What Is Copyright Infringement?

Copyright Infringement

Copyright is a form of legal protection that protects works that are original, like music, writing, or photography. Similar to patents and trademarks, copyrights are a form of property that has particular rights. Only the person who owns copyrights is able to reproduce the work, market it, or publically display it. If someone infringes on the rights of copyright, also called copyright infringement you may bring a suit against them, or opt for an alternative, more efficient process.

Definition and Examples of Copyright Infringement

Copyright infringement infringes on rights of intellectual property rights of the copyright holder. The owner of the copyright has the sole right to make use of their work, for example:

  • Copying the work
  • Translating, adapting, or transforming or creating different works from the original
  • Distribution of works to the general public through sales or other means
  • Conducting the work in public, such as the transmission of digital audio
  • The work can be displayed publicly

The owner of the copyright can permit others to make use of their work. If you’re not the copyright holder, and you don’t have permission from them to perform any of the above actions You could be guilty of copyright violation.

Copyrights are protected under the U.S. copyright law ( Chapter 37 in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations) which is managed through the U.S. Copyright Office.

  • Alternative name Copyright violation

Why Kinds of Work Are Eligible for Copyright Protection?

To be protected from Infringement, the work must meet the following requirements:

  • An “original work of authorship” independently written by a human
  • “Fixed” in a published or distributed form
  • At a minimum, at least creative

Examples of copyrighted works include music, books films, plays, photographs, web content, and sound recordings.

Examples of Copyright Violation Lawsuits

The case of Rogers in Rogers. Koons (1992), Art Rogers owned a copyrighted photograph that was titled “Puppies.” Inspired by the image, Jeff Koons created a sculpture titled “String of Puppies,” which he exhibited at an art gallery. The artist also sold copies of the sculpture to collectors. In the event that Rogers was suing Koons for copyright infringement, Koons said that his work didn’t violate copyright rights because the work was parody as well as social commentary. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the defense, stating that the copies were created with “bad faith, primarily for profit-making motives.”

In the case, Fairey v. Associated Press (AP) was based on a photograph of the former president Barack Obama. The artist Shepard Fairey created the ubiquitous “HOPE” poster for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. The AP stated that an employee of their freelancers captured the image Fairey used to make the poster and that the organization wanted to be compensated for the use of the image. Fairey claimed fair use. The matter was settled privately by the two parties, sharing the proceeds.

In a major musical controversy Marvin Gaye’s heirs believed the song he released in 1977 “Got To Give It Up,” and Robin Thicke’s 2013 smash “Blurred Lines” sounded suspiciously similar. In 2018 an apex court of federal judges backed the decision of a U.S. District Court jury which found that “Blurred Lines” infringed on Gaye’s copyright.

How Does Copyright Infringement Work?

If you feel that your rights to copyrighted work are being breached, register the copyright. Registering gives you some advantage when you go to court, and also proves your rights.

To assert copyright infringement, you must demonstrate that:

  • You own the copyright that is valid.
  • The defendant did copy the work either through direct evidence or simply because the work bears a striking resemblance to your work.
  • The copied parts that are copied from the original work are protected under copyright.

New Copyright Claims Process

Making a claim for copyright infringement generally requires a person to go to federal court. It’s which is a long and expensive procedure. However, there is a new way to file infringement claims. Copyright Office has a new small-claims process that is in the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act (2019-2020). A Copyright Claims Board (CCB) is currently being created to decide “low financial valued” disputes and is scheduled to be operational before 2021’s end. The CCB process is only applied to cases in which damages are monetary. losses are not more than $3,000.

Defenses Against a Claim of Copyright Infringement

Three common defenses are employed to stop the copyright infringement claim:

  • The work isn’t protected under copyright law, typically due to the fact that it’s a factual work without any creative or expressive aspect.
  • The work was developed independently and any resemblance to the work of the plaintiff is purely coincidental.
  • The work is governed through fair use. Fair use permits someone to make use of a small portion of a piece of work for news reports or commentary or even scholarly research. The question of whether something is fair use is determined by a court on a case-by-case basis.

Penalties for Copyright Infringement

When a copyright infringement complaint is accepted by a judge, the copyright infringement holder could be subject to one or more of these penalties.

  • The actual dollar value of the damages and profits
  • Between $200 and $150,000 per work that is infringed, and higher penalties for willful infringement.
  • All attorney fees must be paid and court costs
  • A court order to stop violating an act (sometimes at the start or the beginning of the procedure)
  • The confiscation of the work infringing

Criminal penalties can include imprisonment for up to 5 years, as well as fines of up to $250,000 for each offense.

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