A copyright, under intellectual property law, protects works of authorship from being used by other parties other than the owner of the work. If an owner discovers that another party has used or sold his or her work without obtaining a proper license or permission, the owner has the right to file a lawsuit in court if:
They have ownership of the copyrighted material;
The actual copying took place by the defendant;
The areas of the copyrighted material are protected by intellectual law.
Once these are established, the author may secure a victory in the case.
The Process of a Copyright Infringement Lawsuit
When an owner of a creative work has discovered a copyright infringement upon their work, he or she should contact an experienced intellectual property attorney. That attorney will be experienced with handling copyright infringement claims and is likely to help reach a satisfying outcome in the case. With the help of the attorney, the copyright infringement lawsuit is set into motion by filing a claim at the local chapter of the Federal Bureau of Investigation specializing in intellectual property crimes.
Cease and Desist Notice
Following the initial claim, a cease and desist notice is sent to the violating party. The function of the cease and desist notice is to order or request the immediate stoppage of all activity which is involved with the infringement or face legal action. A cease and desist order will be issued by a judge or court, while a cease and desist letter can be sent by anyone, usually with the aid of a qualified attorney.
In the case of copyright infringement, the illegal activity which prompted retaliatory action has already done damage to the owner of creative work. As a result, the cease and desist letter functions as a “damage control” option, in which illegal activity is halted so that no further damage can be done to the owner’s work pending the outcome of the copyright infringement lawsuit. In some copyright disputes, an owner of creative work may drop the civil lawsuit if the infringing party immediately complies with the cease and desist letter.
Copyright Infringement Lawsuits
As soon as the legal activity is halted by the infringing party, the owner of the creative work may go ahead with the civil lawsuit. The grounds for the lawsuit are sent to both parties and the amount of damages sought by the plaintiff is outlined. If the defendant believes that he or she did not infringe on copyrights held by the plaintiff because of “fair use” or due to a lack of awareness of the copyright due to the plaintiff’s negligence, he or she will fight to minimize or eradicate the possible damages of a verdict. If the defendant is successful in the case, the lawsuit may even be dismissed.
During the copyright infringement trial, an injunction is usually placed on the violating party. An injunction is a court order which requires a party to do or refrain from doing a certain act. In the case of copyright infringement lawsuits, the defendant is ordered to stop actions which violate the copyright of the plaintiff. For example, if a defendant is producing and selling music that the plaintiff claims is a copyright violation, the defendant will be forced to cease production and the selling of that music.
After the trial proceedings finish, the court comes to a verdict. A judge may find the claims of the plaintiff to be accurate and award monetary damages to the plaintiff from the defendant, often including additional money for payment of their legal fees. If the infringement is serious enough, the defendant may also face criminal charges.
A judge may also agree that the defendant has violated copyright law and disagree with the monetary damage claims. In this case, the judge may alter the final monetary sum. The judge may also dismiss a case in favor of the defendant if the judge believes there was no infringement or if there is not enough evidence to support the plaintiff’s claim.