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Copyright Violations

Where are most copyright violations tried - state or federal court?

Copyright violations are overwhelming a matter of federal law; therefore, most copyright violations are tried in federal court.

What must the government prove in a criminal copyright infringement case?

To prove criminal copyright infringement, the government must show (1) that there was an infringement of a valid copyright; (2) that the infringement was done willfully; and (3) that the infringement was carried out for commercial advantage or financial gain.

What constitutes a valid copyright?

For a copyright to be valid, it must be registered. To register a copyright, you must register your work with our office. Registration is not a condition for copyright protection; however, before an infringement suit can be filed, works of U.S. origin must be registered.

What actions constitute a copyright infringement?

Copyright infringement can take place a number of ways. For example, one way to infringe a copyright is to import copyrighted items into the country without the copyright owner's permission.

A distinction must be made between the type of infringement mentioned above and criminal copyright infringement. For copyright infringement to be criminal, it has to be done for commercial advantage or private financial gain.

What is the first sale doctrine?

Under the first sale doctrine, for an infringement prosecution to be successful, there has to be proof that no first sale of a copyrighted work took place. To understand the first sale doctrine, you must understand the difference between a copyright owner and a copyright holder. For example, a copyright owner might be an author, and a copyright holder might be a publisher to which the author sold the rights of his book. The first sale doctrine allows a legitimate copyright owner to sell copies before the copyright holder starts selling. The proceedings are usually in a court that adheres to the first sale doctrine, the burden of proof is on the government to show that no first sale took place.

What else does the government have to prove to make a case of copyright infringement?

To make a case of copyright infringement, the government must also show that the infringement was carried out for commercial advantage or commercial gain. The government doesn't have to show that the defendant actually profited--all it has to prove is that the defendant hoped or expected to realize a profit by infringing the copyright.

What other things do the copyright laws cover?

The copyright laws have criminalized a wide variety of conduct relating to copyrights, including:

  • Violating jukebox licensing requirements.
  • Fraudulently placing false copyrights on articles and publicly distributing or importing them.
  • Removing or altering valid copyright notices.
  • Knowingly making a false representation of a material fact in a copyright application or any written statement filed in connection with such an application.

What could happen if I'm convicted of a copyright violation?

Both a fine and five years in prison could result if the offense involved at least 1,000 recordings or 65 copies of a motion pictures in a 180-day period, or if the violation was a second offense.

For a consultation with Lorandos Joshi, call 734-545-2919 or send the firm an e-mail.