Penalties for Violating Copyright Law

Written by lisa sefcik
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A violation of copyright law is known as "infringement." Many copyright holders file suit against accused infringers in federal court simply to cease the infringing activity. However, if infringement is proved, the copyright holder can also receive monetary damages.

Injuctive Relief

If an accused infringer makes available for public sale an unauthorised work, such as a bootlegged music CD, the court may issue an injunction ordering the infringer to stop selling unauthorised copies.

Seizure of Infringing Copies

A court can also order the bootlegged CDs to be impounded to prevent the accused infringer of selling them pending the outcome of a trial. If a final judgment is rendered in favour of the copyright holder, the court may order the CDs to be destroyed.

Compenatory (Actual) Damages

A copyright holder can sue an alleged infringer for compensatory damages, which is the actual amount of money the copyright holder lost as a result of the infringement through sales or other revenue. To prove actual damages, a copyright holder must show the court that the infringement resulted in a loss of gross income.

Statutory Damages

Instead of suing for actual damages, a copyright holder can sue for statutory damages. Under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, these are limited to no less than £487 and no more than £19,500 per infringement of one creative work.

Statutory Damages for Willful Infringement

If the bootlegger continues to sell unauthorised copies of the CD after receiving an order not to do so, this is considered wilful infringement. If it can be proved, statutory damages may be awarded to the copyright holder, not to exceed £97,500.

Other Monetary Awards

The court, at its discretion, may award a prevailing copyright holder costs for reasonable attorney's fees, as well as reimbursement for other court costs, such as filing fees and fees for expert witness testimony.

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