What remedies are available for copyright infringement?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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In a copyright infringement case, you may get actual damages (the amount of money from lost business), the amount the infringer gained (what he or she made from your work), or the statutory amounts and attorneys fees if you registered the copyright within 90 days of publication.

Actual Damages in Copyright Infringement Cases

If the infringement has caused substantial damage to you as the copyright holder, then you are entitled to collect your actual damages. Examples of damages that can be caused by someone infringing on your copyright could include loss in sales, loss of business contracts, and additional harm such as emotional distress due to discovering your copyright has been infringed upon. In order to show actual damages, you have the burden of presenting evidence of exact figures. For instance, if you had a loss of sales beginning on the day the copyright infringement happened, you must present the actual percentage and monetary drop amounts to the judge.

Unjust Enrichment in Copyright Infringement Cases 

One of the original goals of the court system was to prevent others from gaining wealth at the expense of another. This is modernly known as unjust enrichment. In the case of copyright infringement, this could mean the amount of money made from posting your copyrighted work on their website, the amount in sales from them selling your book as their own, or even the amount made through business contracts that the infringer gained claiming your work as their own.

Statutory Damages in Copyright Infringement Cases

If you filed your copyright with the United States Copyright Office within 90 days of it being published, then you can simply seek the statutory damages for the infringement. The current statutory damages include between $750 up to $30,000 per infringed upon work without proof of intent. If you can prove intent, then you can get up to $150,000 per infringed upon work. If the defendant can prove they acted unknowingly when he or she violated copyright laws, then the damages are reduced to $200. Attorney’s fees in copyright infringement cases may be awarded upon request.






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