Enforcing and Protecting Copyrighted Material Throughout the United StatesAnyone who violates the exclusive rights of a copyright owner is an infringer of the copyright owner (see section 501 of the U.S. Copyright Act). In order to bring an infringement claim of a copyright against another party to be litigated in the United States, the copyright must be filed with the United States Copyright Office, a service unit of the Library of Congress.
An infringer of a copyright may be both civilly and criminally liable. Civilly, an infringer may be liable for actual damages and lost profits or statutory damages. Statutory damages, dependent on the circumstances of the infringement, may range between $250 and $150,000. In some circumstances an infringer may be liable for the back payment of licensing fees. Due to these potential risks of financial loss, it is important to consult an attorney to perform a thorough copyright search using the Catalog of Copyright Entries (CCE) and other search instruments to determine the existence and legality of any filed copyright.
Lastly, as is typical with many claims under the law, there is a statute of limitations that specifies the time limit that a claim for copyright infringement must be brought or risk being barred from bringing the claim altogether. For civil cases the statute of limitations is 3 years after the claim accrued while criminal actions have a statute of limitations for 5 years after the cause of action arose.
- Copyright Assignment, Licensing, and Royalties
- Copyright Registration
- Intellectual Property