Copyright is a form of intellectual property law designed to protect authors of creative work from unauthorized reproduction, copying, and selling. It also gives authors the ability to license and transfer their works to other parties so that they may legally reproduce, copy and sell the product under contractual settings.
A copyright lasts for the entire length of the author’s life, plus 70 years, after which it enters the public domain. Creative work which is protected under copyright infringement usually includes literary works, motion pictures, photographs, sound recordings, and architectural works. If any of these mediums of expressions are used without proper consent, it is called copyright infringement. If copyright infringement occurs, the author is entitled to file a civil lawsuit against the infringing party.
Copyright Infringement Basics
Copyright infringement may be an unauthorized reproduction of a copyrighted work, or it may even involve an author creating another work which is too similar to another work of authorship. Other times, an author may have a copyright infringement case if their work is included in a compilation package without their consent.
When an author of creative work finds that another is benefiting off of his or her work, it is essential for that person to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. After this is done, a civil lawsuit can be filed against the infringing party. The sooner an author reports a copyright infringement, the better chance he or she will have of winning the case and receiving the highest sum of damages possible.
It is up to the plaintiff to prove to the court that his or her work has been infringed upon. If a defendant chooses to fight the lawsuit, there are several defenses that can prove him or her not guilty. Defenses to copyright infringement have been limited, however, due to the looser copyright requirements for works of authorship.
Reporting Copyright Infringement
As mentioned above, the earlier a claim is filed pertaining to copyright infringement, the more time an author will have to remedy the situation. When reporting a copyright, it may be advantageous for the author to have an official copyright registration with the U.S. Copyright Office. This is the most powerful piece of evidence an author can have and will make their claims of infringement much easier to prove.
The first course of action an author should take if his or her work has been copied is to talk to a personal legal representative or an attorney who is experienced with intellectual property laws. Once the attorney explains the complainant’s rights and finds that he or she has a case, a copyright claim can be filed to the local office of the FBI which handles intellectual property claims.
Copyright Infringement Lawsuits
The entire process of filing a civil lawsuit for copyright infringement involves a few steps. First, the author may choose to, with the aid of an attorney, send a cease and desist notice to the offending party. This gives the copyright violator the opportunity to cease production of the infringed work voluntarily. If they comply, the author of the work may choose to drop the idea of a lawsuit, though they may still go ahead with it to receive monetary damages.
Once the lawsuit begins, the judge may issue an injunction against the offending party if they have not yet halted production of the illegal property. In addition, the judge may order that all violating materials and property used to make them be seized in a process known as impounding.
Once the trial is drawing to a close and both parties have stated their cases and evidence, a verdict will be made. Remedies are also given depending on the outcome of the case. If the plaintiff is victorious, he or she will receive damages in a monetary sum and the defendant will not be allowed to infringe on the copyright any longer. If the defendant wins, he or she may continue production and use of their work, and the plaintiff may need to pay for the defendant’s legal fees on the judge’s orders.
Copyright Infringement Attorney
When an individual would like to file a civil copyright lawsuit, he or she should hire a copyright attorney experienced in intellectual property law. Aside from helping with lawsuits, an attorney can also perform the useful function of helping the author submit work to the U.S. Copyright Office so as to provide for an official registration certificate proving original ownership. Registration can be useful if a lawsuit later arises. It also helps the author license their work for another individual or entity to use.
Internet Copyright Infringement
The internet is a valuable tool for helping authors display their work to millions of people without spending a lot of money. It allows for the instantaneous exchange of information through text, photographs, sounds, and motion pictures. This technology, however, is also the very reason why artists are afraid to have their work available on the internet.
There are many ways in which people can steal works of authorship on the internet free of charge, with the most common offenses being committed against musical and visual works. There are many remedies to this problem, though with the rapid pace of the technology, it is still an ongoing battle.
There are several ways in which copyright infringement can take place. A copyright infringement may create a work that bears a close likeness to the original author’s work. An infringer may also use the actual original work for his or her own benefit. When possible, if a person or entity performs a copyright work in public, it is also considered a violation under intellectual property law. Though the criminal acts have taken place, it is up to the author to prove that the violating party committed the acts and that their work is the original work.
If the defendant believes that he or she has committed no violation of intellectual property, there are several defenses that could work in his or her favor. Independent creation, for example, occurs when work is created and coincidentally is similar to the original author’s work. De minimus copying of a work is legal, as long as there are only trivial similarities.
During a copyright infringement case, a judge will usually provide relief to the plaintiff by ordering an injunction against the defendant. This prevents the defendant from continuing production or selling of the alleged copyright infringing work. As the trial proceeds to further stages, the court may also order that all infringing work and materials used to create it be impounded or, in other words, seized.
When the case draws to a close, the court will come to a conclusion and will end in favor of the plaintiff or defendant. In some cases, the case may be dismissed for a lack of evidence in favor of the defendant, though most of the time there will be enough evidence to continue to a conclusion.
If the plaintiff is victorious, he or she will be awarded damages in a monetary sum. This usually depends on how much money the plaintiff lost due to the defendant’s copyright violation, plus any profits the defendant has made off of the copyrighted work. Damages can either be actual or statutory. Actual damages are added up to a sum between money lost on the plaintiff and profits of the defendant. Statutory damages are a fixed cost determined by the judge, though it cannot be less than $750 or above $30,000.
Finally, court and attorney’s fees may also be awarded to whichever party is victorious. In this instance, a judge may decide that one party deserves compensation for having to spend money to go to court because the other party is completely at fault.