Q.What are the penalties for copyright infringement?
A.If the copyright owner has registered his copyright before any infringement takes place, he may be able to recover damages in a multitude of ways. He may ask the court for actual damages, statutory damages, the infringer's profits, attorney's fees, an injunction, impoundment of the illegal copies, and / or destruction of the illegal copies.
Under the copyright act, so long as the copyright was registered with the U.S. Copyright Office before the infringement occurs, the copyright owner is entitled to choose whether to seek actual damages or statutory damages.
Where actual damages are hard to prove or negligible, statutory damages often are the better alternative. Statutory damages range from a minimum of $200 (for innocent infringement) to a maximum of $30,000 per copyrighted work infringed, but if the copyright owner can prove the infringement was willful (intentional and knowing) the court may award up to $150,000.
However, it should be noted that the damages to be awarded are at the discretion of the judge and can be as low as $200 where the judge or jury finds the infringer acted innocently, and can be significantly higher where the judge or jury finds the defendant acted willfully (in which case the judge will be predisposed to also award attorneys fees and costs).
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