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The Consequences of Copyright Infringement

Copyright infringement is the infringement of the exclusive rights of a copyright owner’s rights without legal authority. The violator can face dire consequences, which could cost them thousands of dollars.

Even worse, it can lead to several criminal charges or a lawsuit filed in a federal court. Payment of damages can be made to the owner and possibly the attorney’s fees.

Criminal Consequences

Criminal charges impounded on a copyright violator can be massive. Regardless of whether it’s a first-time defendant, they can still end up losing a significant amount of money in penalties. In some cases, they can be imprisoned for at least 180 days.

A federal court can raise criminal charges against a violator as well. It happens if there is a willful infringement of copyrighted work with a minimum value as per the law within a given timeframe. Further, if an infringer tries to get around digital tools protecting works, they might also face criminal charges.

Civil Consequences

If a person infringes on registered copyrights, you can file a civil lawsuit against them. The court will then listen to the evidence and decide if there was a copyright violation. The court will also assess the number of damages depending on the case. The owner can show evidence to prove the financial harm they underwent to receive compensation for actual damages. The defendant should pay a particular amount, usually measured per the financial gain they accrued.

If the infringement involved statutory damages, the owner is not required to prove any financial loss. As a result, it can cost the defendant hundreds or thousands of dollars. The owner could get up to $150,000 on willful infringement even if the infringement didn’t cause monetary harm. If the violator is found liable for infringement, they may have to pay the intellectual property lawyer fees and the court costs.

Other legal penalties can include:

  • The federal court can decide to impound illegal acts
  • An issuance of an injunction to stop the infringing works

Damage to Reputation

Most copyright violators only seem to consider legal consequences and forget about the reputational harm to their business or career. When your clients learn about your infringement on someone’s copyrights, they may see you or your enterprise as an unfair competitor. It can lead to significant damage to your profession or personal well-being.

Considering the harsh consequences you will have to endure, especially on your enterprise, you need to avoid copyright infringement. Businesses can decide to use in-house staff to create original content, graphics, and more. They can also hire third parties but ensure that all material made belongs to the company.

Still, if you want to use registered material, you can approach the copyright holders to get the necessary licenses. This way, they won’t seek legal procedures since you acted with their consent. You can also opt for royalty-free media since it’s not subjected to similar restrictions. It can be freely used, but you can also credit the owner whenever you use their content.

Additionally, consider registering your works so that you have a full scope of the available remedies of infringement. Alternatively, you can get assistance from an intellectual property lawyer to guide you through the legal issues relating to such violations.

Lack of adherence to copyrights can result in steep penalties for you and your business. Not only can it lead to financial burdens but also reputational damages, especially if it leads to repetitive lawsuits.

In the worst scenario, copyright violation can also lead to criminal charges or even jail time. To avoid these penalties, you can check the database of the US Patent and Trademark office. This way, you have the assurance that your logo, brand, design, or product name is not already registered.

 

 

About the author

Alice Instone-Brewer

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