Copyright infringement happens more often than you think, although the person who violates copyright law frequently gets away with it.
However, serious penalties exist for anyone found guilty of this crime, and those penalties may include time behind bars.
Copyright infringement explained
Copyright infringement refers to the unauthorized use of certain types of works, including, but not limited to, literary, musical, audiovisual, dramatic works and motion pictures, and even architectural works. While copyright protection covers an author’s latest paperback novel, for example, it also extends to the activity of internet piracy, which refers to unlawfully copying software, digital music, movies or video games.
The rights of an owner
Here is a list of rights that belong to a copyright owner:
- Right to reproduce the work through copying, duplicating or transcribing it in fixed form. Copyright infringement occurs if someone other than the owner copies a work and resells it.
- Right to derivative work, which means to modify a work so as to create a new work. An example of infringement here is if a copyright owner writes a song and someone remixes and sells it without the owner’s consent.
- Right to distribute the work to the public. There are lawsuits in the music industry that target file-sharing on the web.
- Right to public display, which refers to displaying a copy of the work by posting it online, putting it on film or showing it to the public in any other way.
- Right to public performance. An example of copyright infringement here would involve someone performing a copyrighted play without permission from the owner.
Several federal laws apply to copyright infringement, including the U.S. No Electronic Theft Act along with Title 17 of the United States Code. Those who report violation of their copyright ownership can sue not only for damages but also for profits from the infringement activity. Furthermore, it is not necessary to prove actual damages. For statutory damages, the owner may realize recovery of up to $30,000. If the violation was intentional, the copyright owner could collect up to $150,000, and the guilty party could spend one to 10 years in prison.