Copyright Infringement

Copyright infringement, also known as copyright violation, is a serious crime in the United States. It occurs when someone violates copyright laws that protect an individual’s intellectual or creative property.

The popular conception–or, more accurately, misconception–that copyright infringement involves piracy of only movies or music is false. Copyrights for various things can be violated. For example, the copyright of a book can be violated if someone photocopies an entire book and sells the photocopied book. Similarly, even toys’ copyrights can be violated. How? If someone designs a toy so that it looks exactly like a toy made by some other company or individual and then markets or sells that toy as if it were made by that other individual or company, then that too is copyright infringement.

Like the act itself, the penalties for copyright infringement are wide-ranging and various. Copyright violators can be prosecuted by public officials because they violated the law. Most copyright infringement cases, however, are pursued through private lawsuits in which the party negatively affected by the copyright violation, say the record company of a CD being pirated by an individual, sues that individual for heavy monetary damages as well restrictions on future usage rights. For example, when college students are found to be conducting practices that violate copyright law by downloading music, the record label(s) will send a letter asking the student to stop and to pay a fine of an amount of $3000 or so. If the students refuses either, then the label(s) will pursue litigation and the cost to settle the case will jump to $100,000 or so.

There a number of reasons people use to justify their copyright violation. Some are as follows:

  • People only download stuff that they otherwise would not buy, so a company’s profits are not affected.
  • Downloading material allows people to “taste” something before they buy it. If they like it, they buy it; if they don’t like it, they don’t buy it and supposedly delete the downloaded item.
  • Downloading something allows people to boycott a product or person whom they disagree with.

These are only some of the argument made by people who violate copyright law. People or businesses whose copyrights are violated, however, will not agree with any copyright laws. And more importantly, none of these arguments will hold up in a court of law.

If you have been charged with copyright infringement, contact the Milwaukee criminal defense attorneys of Kohler and Hart by visiting their website or by calling 888-565-7595.