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The details of copyright law

One does not have to be business-minded to know the dangers of copyright infringement. When any intellectual property is at stake, enormous consequences could ensue. While most Californians are familiar with the term, many do not understand copyright infringement in depth. The following information delves into the basic definition of this crime, as well as the penalties that can follow.

In sum, the U.S. Copyright Office explains that copyright infringement is included under the category of exclusive rights. There are many different actions that constitute copyright infringement, as the office mentions the following:

  • Reproducing the work in copies
  • Displaying the copyrighted work in public
  • Performing the work in public
  • Preparing derivative works based on the work
  • Distributing copies of the work 

A person could be liable for infringement when he or she commits any of the above acts. The Copyright Office maintains an online catalog that contains all registrations, recorded transfers of ownership and other important documents, dating as early as 1978. 


After better understanding the definition of copyright infringement, those facing possible charges can learn about other steps in the process. The Copyright Alliance explains that anyone charged with such crimes may face thousands in charges per work infringed. However, there are always multiple sides to a story: the alliance shares that a person may use the defense of innocent infringement when he or she unknowingly committed the crime. Those taking this angle may also want to consider that this defense may not pass when the copyrighted work contained a copyright notice. The alliance adds that courts usually award statutory damages on a per-work basis. Discovering that a copyright infringement charge is looming ahead is certainly no light matter, but getting acquainted with the law itself can make the process more manageable.   



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