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Copyright Infringement Lawyer

Is a creative workpiece of yours being circulated without your permission? Or was your painting displayed at a public event without your consent? If your literary, creative, or artistic work is being used by a third-party for their benefit you may have become the victim of copyright infringement. However, as a citizen of the United States, you have the right to hold the responsible party accountable and recover the damages you incurred due to the misuse of your work. The best way to go about the process is to hire a copyright infringement attorney who understands the intricacies of the system.

What Is Copyright Infringement?

Copyright is a part of the intellectual property laws. These laws automatically come into existence once you create and publish an original intellectual workpiece. Some examples of work that can be copyrighted are:

  • Poetry
  • Movies
  • Books
  • Lyrics of a song
  • Paintings
  • Sculptures
  • Drawings
  • Software
  • Scripts
  • Online content

Copyright laws give you exclusive rights over the way you use your work. When a person encroaches on one of the exclusive rights granted under the copyright laws, it is known as copyright infringement. The encroachment of the following rights is considered to be copyright infringement:

  • Infringement of the Right of Reproduction: You own and control the exclusive rights to reproducing your work. If a person reproduces your work by copying it and sells it, then it is considered to be an infringement of the right of reproduction. For instance, if a person copies the composition of your song and sells it rights then it is considered an infringement of your right of reproduction.
  • Infringement of the Right of Performance: Copyright owners reserve the right to performing their work publicly. If a person publicly performs their work that has been protected, it is considered to be an infringement of the right of performance.
  • Infringement of the Right of Distribution: Only you have the right to distribute your work. If someone else sells an unlicensed copy of your work it is illegal and an infringement of the right of distribution under copyright laws
  • Infringement of the Right to Derivative Works: A copyright owner is the sole owner of their work and anything that is derived from it. If a person tries to create new work based on your intellectual property or in other words, creates a derivative out of your work, it is termed as an infringement of the right to derivative works. Unlicensed movies based on books are a common example of infringement of the right to derivative works.
  • Infringement to the Right of Public Display: You as the copyright owner have the liberty to post, display, and publish your work on any platform that you seem fit including social media and other internet platforms. If someone else publishes or displays your work without your consent or a license, it is considered to be an infringement of the right of public display.

What Does Not Classify as Copyright Infringement?

Fair Usage

If your intellectual property is being used for research, reporting, news, criticism, teaching, or scholarship it is considered to fall under the category of fair usage. This type of use of your work is legally permitted and does not classify as copyright infringement.

Use of Generic Ideas and Non-original Elements

The general elements and ideas in your work cannot be considered to be exclusive and can be used by people. For instance, the element of showing cowboys in your movie plot based in Texas will be a non-original element that can be used by another producer or director. Similarly, the idea of creating a movie about a superhero will not be protected under copyright laws.

Types of Copyright Infringement

Copyright infringement can be broadly divided into two categories:

1. Primary Infringement

When the accused infringer is directly involved in copyright infringement, it is termed as a primary infringement. If a person knowingly or unknowingly has displayed, distributed, or performed your work without your prior consent, they are considered to be primary infringers.

2. Secondary Infringement

Secondary infringement occurs when a person or party facilitates another person or a group in copyright infringement. There are three types of secondary infringement:

  • Vicarious Infringement: The type of infringement happens when a person of authority supports or supervises the direct infringer and benefits from it financially
  • Contributory Infringement: Contributory infringement happens when a person knows or has a reason to know about the infringement but still contributes, induces, or authorizes it
  • Inducement: This term was introduced after the Supreme Court’s Grokster decision. It recognizes a person who promotes an act of copyright infringement through clear affirmative steps or expression.

How Do You Prove Copyright Infringement in Court?

If you have been a victim of copyright infringement, your main objective is to prove the infringer’s liability in the damages you sustained. The first thing that you should know is that the statute of limitations for bringing a civil copyright infringement lawsuit to the court is three years and five years in case of criminal cases. The statute of limitations is measured based on the accrual of claims which refers to the day on which the copyright infringement caused an alleged liability. To prove a primary infringement, you need to prove that you own the copyright and the infringer copied or infringed upon one of the exclusive rights that you are granted under the copyright laws. More than often, the proof is established using circumstantial evidence that demonstrates that the infringer’s work has substantial similarities to your work and the infringer had easy access to your original work. Courts compare the two works simultaneously looking for similarities in words, appearance, formatting, sounds, and sequences. Although your exclusive rights come into force when you create and publish your work, having a copyright certificate will make it easier for you to establish your claim in court.

Copyright Infringement Damages

You can recover copyright infringement damages if you can successfully prove infringement in court. The damages you can recover are:

1. Actual Damages: These are the damages that you suffer due to infringement. Loss of sales, lost licensing revenue, loss of profits or any other monetary loss caused due to the infringement falls in this category. However, measuring actual damages can be difficult. You need to have an exact measure of the monetary losses you incurred and an estimation of the loss won’t be enough. This means to prove your losses in court you would require a subject matter expert to testify in your favor.

2. Profits from Infringement: Besides actual damages, you can also demand the infringer to pay the profits made from selling your copyrighted work. Like actual damages, evaluation of the profits made due to infringement is complex. Because the profits depend on the calculation of actual damages, proving them in court would again require the testimony of a subject matter expert.

3. Statutory Damages: This is an alternative to actual damages and profits from infringements. As the name implies, statutory damages are exact ranges of compensation defined in the Copyrights act. Because proving actual damages can be difficult, you can opt for demanding statutory damages for your losses. However, to be eligible for demanding statutory damages you need to have a copyright that was registered before or within three months of the publication of your work. The Copyright act specifies the damages as:

  • You can receive US$750 to US$30,000 for every copyrighted work infringed upon
  • If the infringement is proven to be willful, you can receive statutory damages of up to US$150,000 for every copyrighted work infringed upon
  • In case the infringer was unaware of the violation or had no reason of believing that his actions constituted an infringement, the damages can be reduced to as low as US$200

The damages are awarded per copyrighted work infringement. For instance, an infringing book would be considered to be one infringement and will be entitled to one award. The statutory damages you will receive would be decided by the judge or jury in charge.

Besides demanding damages, you can also demand a court order to restrict further infringement of work, destruction or confiscation of infringed items, and the fees you are required to pay your attorney.

Why Hire a Copyright Infringement Attorney?

Hiring a copyright infringement attorney will benefit you in the following ways:

  • Proving your copyright has been violated can be tricky. A copyright infringement lawyer has the experience and the knowledge required to help you build a strong case and persuade the jury or judge in your favor.
  • Bringing a copyright infringement lawsuit in court without a formal registration can hurt your chances of winning the case. With a copyright infringement attorney, you can file and get a formal registration before bringing the case to the court
  • A copyright infringement attorney will help you evaluate the damages you incurred due to infringement and aid you in recovering the maximum amount
  • With a copyright infringement attorney, you can rest assured and leave the responsibility of the paperwork to the legal professional
  • A copyright infringement lawyer will work with your best interests in mind and represent you in court if required
  • You can hire an expert copyright infringement attorney virtually free of cost as there is a provision that allows you to demand your lawyer’s fees from the infringer.

Are you looking for an expert copyright infringement attorney for your case? Fill in the form alongside and we will find you the best copyright infringement attorney near you.