November 5, 2018

Copyright Infringement and Copyright Litigation


Copyright infringement occurs when someone violates one of your exclusive rights of an artist.  Typically, an artist creates a work of art which are protected once a tangible work of art is created.  The works of art which are protected include things like books, movies, paintings, music, lyrics, sculptural works, movies and computer software.  If you create an original work of art, your work is automatically protected by providing the artist with exclusive rights.

The exclusive rights to an artist include:

Copyright Infringement can be expensive

Unauthorized use of a copyrighted work can be the subject of a copyright claim.

  • The right to reproduce your work;
  • The right to distribute your work;
  • The right to make adaptations or derivatives of your work;
  • The right to publicly perform certain works;
  • The right to publicly display certain works; and
  • The right to electronically transmit your sound recording.

In some cases, an artist can also have what are sometimes referred to as Moral Rights, which gives some artists rights related to attribution and to prevent their work from being positioned in a way which they would consider derogatory.  It may also be used to prevent destruction of their artwork.

Copyright infringement may also occur where a person or group uses a work of art without permission from the artist or exceeds their rights as provided for in an agreement.

When a claim of infringement has been made, an artist may sue for:

  • a preliminary or permanent injunction to prevent further harm;
  • impounding and destruction of the infringing goods; and/or
  • monetary damages which may include actual or statutory damages, attorney’s fees and costs.

The amount of money someone can claim in a copyright infringement action can be very high.  In fact, in some cases, the copyright owner can claim up to $150,000 if the use of the work was intentional.  In certain cases, the government may bring a criminal lawsuit against an infringer.

There are exceptions and defenses against a claim of copyright infringement, including a fair use exception, an independent creation defense and a claim that the person claiming infringement does not hold a valid copyright.

You can read more about copyright claims on the copyright section of our website.  If you believe someone has violated your rights or if someone has challenged your copyrights, you should contact one of our litigation attorneys at your earliest convenience.