Learn From the Best—Famous Copyright Infringement Cases
In a world where we constantly share and consume music, videos, photos, and other creative content, cases of copyright infringement abound. No wonder that increasing volumes of legislation focus on this issue, including the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998 and other copyright laws.
Since copyright infringement can happen unintentionally, you should learn how copyright works, how long copyright lasts, and what the difference between terms like copyright claim and copyright notice is.
Those who want to secure themselves in cases of copyright infringement should research how to copyright their work, especially if they share it publicly.
Where Do People File Copyright Infringement Cases?
While the United States Copyright Office (USCO) deals with copyright registrations, this institution serves as an office of record and doesn’t enforce any laws. If you experience copyright infringement first hand, you will be able to take your case to court, but only if you registered your work at the USCO.
Even if you obtained a registration certificate, lawsuits might not be the best solution. Filing a lawsuit in most cases requires paid legal help, and it is recommended in situations where potential statutory damages outweigh the costs of lawsuits.
If you want to proceed with filing a copyright infringement lawsuit for any reason, you can reach out to the Intellectual Property (IP) Program of the Financial Institution Fraud Unit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Complaints to the FBI can be made using these three methods:
- Contact the local FBI field office
- File the complaint online at the Internet Crime Complaint Center
- Report any suspected criminal actions on the FBI Tips website
Since copyright infringement is a civil matter, most related lawsuits are handled by a federal court. In certain cases, copyright infringement can include elements of a felony or criminal misdemeanor. If that happens, the prosecution is handled by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Biggest Music Copyright Infringement Judgments
The line between being inspired by the work of predecessors and stealing someone’s original content might be difficult to establish. The proof is in numerous copyright infringement cases from the world of music where financial losses can be enormous.
Some of the most famous cases include:
- Marvin Gaye Estate v. Robin Thicke, Pharrell, and T.I. (2015)—Because parts of the popular song Blurred Lines by Thicke, Pharrell, and T.I. sound identical to Gaye’s Gotta Give It Up from 1977, they had to pay $7.3 million in damages to Gaye’s estate. The initial ruling went down in history as the biggest payout for copyright infringement in music, but the court later reduced it to $5.3 million
- Vanilla Ice v. Queen and David Bowie (1990)—The problem doesn’t have to be a full or partial melody—infringement can also rise from bass lines if they’re as famous as that one from Ice Ice Baby and Under Pressure. The case was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum, and it entered popular culture because of Vanilla Ice’s unsuccessful defense from plagiarism
- Metallica v. Napster (2000)—When the Internet proved it’s here to stay, the music industry had to adapt. One of the cases that shows how this relationship developed was when Metallica sued the then-popular peer-to-peer music file-sharing service Napster for $10 million. While they didn’t get the money, Napster was forced to terminate 230,142 accounts and shut down
Famous Copyright Infringement Cases in Cinema
Music is not the only part of the entertainment industry suffering from copyright infringement. Many famous movies were the target of plagiarism lawsuits, as the following table shows:
|Movie||Copyright Infringement Accusations||Status|
|The Fifth Element||Alejandro Jodorowsky, a Chilean-French filmmaker, took the director Luc Besson to court because he found The Fifth Element a bit too similar to his comic book The Incal||Dismissed|
|Avatar||William Roger Dean sued James Cameron for plagiarizing his artwork to create the planet Pandora landscapes in his record-breaking movie for $50 million in damages||Dismissed|
|The Hangover Part II||S. Victor Whitmill, a tattoo artist, sued Warner Bros for the use of his design that was made for Mike Tyson||Settled at undisclosed terms|
|Coming to America||Art Buchwald sued Paramount Studios for using his ideas for an abandoned project in the screenplay for this comedic hit||Settled in favor of the plaintiff|
Most Famous Copyright Infringement Case Judgements in Business
The more exposure your brand gets, the higher the chances that someone might find significant similarities to their brand. Some of the biggest lawsuits for copyright infringement involved the most famous brands:
- Apple vs. Microsoft—These two biggest rivals got into a six-year-long lawsuit in 1988 over the graphical user interface (GUI) and related licenses. Microsoft came out on top, but the animosity remained and became popular around the world
- Gucci vs. Guess—Gucci sued Guess in 2009 for using a similar logo and several other trademarks. The high-fashion brand initially asked for $221 million in damages, but they received only $4.7 million after winning the case
- Starbucks vs. Freddoccino—In 2016, Starbucks filed a lawsuit against Obsidian Group for marketing a drink called the Freddoccino stating similarities to its trademarked term frappuccino. Even though the name of the drink was changed to Freddo, Starbucks is not giving up, and the verdict is pending at the moment
- Apple vs. Google—The world of cell phones and related technology went on fire in the early 2010s when Apple sued Samsung and Google while simultaneously being sued by Motorola over several patent infringements. The fighting came to a halt when Google bought Motorola, and in 2014, Apple and Google decided to settle patent disputes outside of court
How Can DoNotPay Help You Fight Copyright Infringement?
Big copyright infringement cases are not so rare among huge brands and corporations, and the damages often reach preposterous amounts. The odds are that you won’t have to deal with expensive lawyers and drawn-out lawsuits, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on your copyrights easily, especially if we’re talking about the content under the DMCA protection.
If you notice someone infringing your copyrights, serve them with a highly efficient DMCA notice written by your new AI assistant—DoNotPay. You won’t have to waste your time on legal research or your money on attorney fees when you can create a takedown notice in a matter of minutes.
The process involves these easy steps:
- Set up your DoNotPay account in a web browser of your choice
- Choose the DMCA Takedown option from the homepage
- Tell us briefly about your original content and the infringement
- Verify your identity and contact details for additional safety
- Click on Sign and Submit
Having proof of ownership is great, but DoNotPay understands that most people don’t register copyrights for content like personal photographs or similar creative work. Our takedown notices will do the job regardless of the evidence!
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