: Online Copyright Protection
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Penalties for Copyright Violation or Infringement
by Brian Scott
If you are like
most people who attend movies, watch television or read books, you have at
least noticed the copyright notice found at the start of these materials.
Generally speaking, the copyright notice includes language something to the
"Federal law provides severe civil and criminal penalties
for the unauthorized reproduction, distribution, or exhibition of copyrighted
materials. Criminal copyright infringement is investigated by the FBI. "
With that said, you may wonder what the penalties associated with
infringing a copyright. As you reed this article, please keep in mind this
article is not designed to give you legal advice. Rather, this article has been
prepared for informational purposes only. If you find you have specific
questions about copyright law and copyright infringement, you would be better
served by contacting an attorney who specializes in copyright law. That
attorney can answer your questions and provide to you assistance with copyright
When it comes to the penalties with violating or infringing a
copyright, the penalties come in two forms: civil and criminal.
The civil penalties for copyright infringement not
registered with the Library of Congress include actual losses sustained by the
copyright owner as the result of the infringement. When it comes to a
registered copyright filed with the Library of Congress, the copyright owner
can also obtain triple damages above and beyond actual damages, together with
attorney fees in a copyright infringement case.
In reality, criminal prosecutions involving violations of copyright
law are not common in this day and age. Some experts in the field believe in
the not too distant future we will see an increase in criminal prosecutions
associated with copyright infringement.
Many people scoff at the idea
of criminal prosecutions for copyright infringement. Because these types of
prosecutions have not been common historically, some people are willing to
breach or infringe upon a copyright interest with little regard for possible
One area in which criminal prosecutions have become
frequent is in cases in which people have been charged with wholesale pirating
or copyrighted materials. In other words, people who have reproduced
copyrighted materials -- primarily CDs and DVDs on a large (commercial) scale
face criminal prosecution.
In fact, as the FBI warning notice set
forth previously in this article indicates, the possible criminal penalty for
copyright infringement is significant. If you were convicted of criminal
copyright infringement you face a possible maximum penalty of up to five years
in prison and up to a $250,000 monetary fine.
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