The world of copyright law can be difficult to navigate. What is copyright law? Do I need a copyright? How do I apply for a copyright? While there are many questions to consider, one of the most crucial ones is, “What are the consequences of violating copyright law?”
In this article, the business law attorneys at Xander Law Group explain everything you need to know about copyright law violations and their consequences.
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Copyright Law Basics
One of the most confusing things about copyright law is understanding exactly what it covers. According to the U.S. Copyright Office, “Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed.”
So, how do you know if your work is copyrightable? Copyrights can be granted if your work exists in a physical form, is original, and shows a modicum of creativity. If your work is reproduced in any sort of way without your permission, it is considered copyright infringement.
What Are The Consequences Of Violating Copyright Law?
The U.S. Copyright Office takes copyright law and violations very seriously. Depending on the severity of the violation, the guilty party can face a variety of civil or even criminal consequences.
While there is no defense against unknowingly violating copyright law, more strict penalties are often given to those who knowingly violate the laws. Some of the consequences violators may face include:
If you have registered your product with the U.S. Copyright Office and someone infringes on that copyright, you can file a civil suit to protect your property. If the court finds that there is an infringement, they will owe you damages.
The damages you receive depend on specifics such as the amount of evidence and level of violation. For cases where significant financial harm has occurred, the infringer will most often have to pay the amount they have received from using the work. These are called actual damages.
Statutory damages, on the other hand, do not have to be proven. Compensation for these damages is determined by the court and can range from $750 to $30,000 per work.
Other penalties include having to pay for court costs and attorney’s fees. The court can also rule with an injunction to stop the violator from using the copyrighted work. Further violations will result in more compensation.
Though rarer, courts can also decide to file criminal charges against violators. For the court to prove they can legally file criminal charges, they must prove that there is a legal copyright on the work, the defendant did not have permission to use the work, they did it with the knowledge there was a copyright, and it was done to the benefit of the defendant.
To become a felony charge, there must be at least 10 copies of the work reproduced or distributed. Compensation for criminal violation charges often results in large settlements. The defendant can also face several years in jail depending on the severity of the case.
Not all consequences of violating copyright law are settled in court. Possibly even more detrimental careers, violators also face the fact that they have tarnished their reputation. When the public and colleagues discover the deceit of copyright violation, they are less likely to support the violator.
Business Litigation Law Firm In Miami
At Xander Law Group, we believe in passion, integrity, and results. Our high standards have helped residents of South Florida with their copyright disputes for over 10 years!
We are here to walk you through the legal process and counsel you every step of the way. If you have any questions or would like to seek consequences against someone violating your copyright, call Xander Law Group at 1-305-767-2001 or contact us online today!