Copyright infringement claims are determined on factual, case-by-case analysis. A copyright owner must prove infringement and, if possible, related damages. In filing a lawsuit against alleged infringers, potential damages may be the owner's actual damages suffered as a result of the infringement (e.g., lost profits, lost sales and the loss of value in the copyright by its use), plus defendant's profits. Actual damages generally require an in-depth valuation, including proving value. In the alternative, certain copyright owners can seek statutory damages.
Statutory damages are available only if the infringement occurs after the copyright owner has registered the work at the U.S. Copyright Office and may be elected at any time before final judgment. The election removes the oftentimes costly process of proving or calculating actual damages and ensures a recovery for infringement when actual damages are nominal.
Subject to circumstances, statutory damages for non-willful copyright infringement may range from $750.00 to $30,000 per violation. Willful infringement statutory damages is up to $150,000 per work. No statutory damages may be awarded where the infringer believes or has reasonable grounds to believe his use fell under the fair use doctrine, and the infringer was: (1) an agent or employee of a non-profit educational institution or library acting in his scope of employment, or (2) a public broadcasting entity. Finally, the court may, in its discretion, award reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party, and costs to either party which are not available with actual damages.
We can assist you with registering copyright material with the U.S. Copyright Office and with copyright violations and related disputes.