Copyright Infringement Penalties Explained

Copyright Protection Copyright Infringement Penalties Explained

Everything You Should Know About Copyright Infringement Penalties

Copyright infringement is a common issue most intellectual property owners face. With the development of technology and easier access to creative content such as video games, books, music, and movies, it has become harder to save your intellectual property from copycats. Various copyright laws, such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and Copyright Act, offer you protection in case of copyright infringement of your work.

If you want to avoid violating copyright laws, you should get familiar with how copyright works. You might commit copyright infringement without being aware of it and still suffer consequences and face penalties. It’s always good to learn what to expect if you get accused of copyright infringement.  

The Essentials of Copyright

When you finish creating your work and put it in a tangible form, you automatically own the copyright to it. Here are some of the original works you can copyright:


Type Example
Audio Works Songs, sound recordings, musical compositions
Visual Works Movies, TV shows, photos, paintings, animation
Digital Content Video games, databases, blogs, websites
Literary Works Articles, fiction, non-fiction, scripts, books

What you can’t copyright are facts and ideas. Other people may use the same facts as you and come up with the same ideas. 

Having copyright on some content means that you are the only one who has permission to make copies, display, perform publicly, change some parts, or make derivatives of your work.

Copyright lasts as long as the author is alive and an additional 70 years after the author’s death. You should be careful when using some old works because you might be violating someone’s copyright.

What Is Copyright Infringement?

If you are using copyright-protected works without the permission of the copyright owner, you are committing infringement. You are not allowed to copy, distribute, or perform other people’s work. You are probably violating somebody’s copyrights if you:

  1. Record movies in the cinema or theater 
  2. Make derivatives, such as prequels or sequels, of copyright-protected works
  3. Share someone’s music or photos on social media without the copyright owner’s permission, even if you give credits to that person
  4. Download copyrighted work, such as music or movies, without paying for it or getting permission of the copyright owner to download it for free

In case you used someone’s copyrighted work for education, comment, criticism, or news reporting purposes, your actions might qualify as fair use and not copyright infringement.

What Happens if You Break Copyright Law?

In case you are the one who infringed on someone’s copyright, you can expect the copyright owner to:

  1. Contact you to solve the issue amicably
  2. File a DMCA takedown notice
  3. Sue you in court

What To Do if the Copyright Owner Contacts You About Infringement

Sometimes, the copyright owner will decide to contact the person who infringed on their copyright directly. If someone tries to get in touch with you and claims that they own the copyright to the content you used, you should:

  • Check whether it’s a scam first
  • Explain that you used the content in the domain of fair use in case you used it for teaching, comment, criticism, or news reporting
  • Delete the content if it’s truly infringing someone’s copyright

In case you can’t reach a deal with the copyright owner, you can expect that person to take further actions, such as taking you to court. 

What To Do if You Get a DMCA Takedown Notice?

The copyright owner can also seek DMCA protection and file a copyright claim. In case you receive a DMCA takedown notice, it is important not to ignore it. You should respond immediately because you might face a copyright infringement lawsuit otherwise. Once you see that someone filed a DMCA notice against you, you have these options:

  1. Takedown the infringing material
  2. File a counter-notice to dispute the case

What Are Court Punishments for Breaking Copyright Law?

The copyright holder may decide to escalate the issue and sue you. Federal courts are in charge of dealing with copyright infringement. If the court finds you guilty of violating copyright laws, you may face these penalties:

  • Getting the infringing content impounded by the court
  • Getting an order to delete and destroy the infringing content 
  • Paying for statutory damages that range from $750 to $30,000 for one infringing work
  • Paying for extra damages up to $150,000 if you commit the infringement willfully
  • Covering the copyright owner’s court costs and attorney’s fees
  • Paying a fine up to $250,000 in case of a criminal offense
  • Going to jail for up to five years or ten years for a repeated offense

How Can You Protect Your Work From Copycats?

Learning how to copyright is crucial if you want to protect your work from misuse. 

If you want to indicate that you own the copyright to a work, you can write a copyright notice. In case you want to have more benefits, such as being able to file a lawsuit against a person who infringes on your copyright, you should register your work at the U.S. Copyright Office.

Your works in digital form also have DMCA protection, and you can file a DMCA notice if you see that someone stole your work.

File a DMCA Notice With DoNotPay and Protect Your Work From Copyright Infringement

Have you found out that someone is using your creative content without your permission? Get help from our award-winning app—DoNotPay! 

With DoNotPay, you can file a DMCA takedown notice in a matter of minutes and get back at infringers! All you need to do is follow a few easy steps:

  1. Access DoNotPay through any web browser
  2. Select the DMCA Takedown option
  3. Give us the name of your copyright-protected work
  4. Provide the links to your original work and the content that infringes on your copyrights
  5. Tap Sign and Submit

If you want to check the results of your requests, open the My Disputes tab. You don’t need proof of ownership to file a DMCA notice with DoNotPay! 

If you choose DoNotPay to help you with filing a takedown notice, you will save money on hiring lawyers. You will also save time since you won’t have to deal with any DMCA agents!

DoNotPay—The Quickest Way to Solving Your Administrative Issues

Do you want to find out more about copyright? Use DoNotPay to learn about Instagram or Facebook copyright policy. You can also see how copyright claims function on YouTube to get more protection from copyright infringement. 

DoNotPay can help you deal with a bunch of other issues besides copyright. You can get rid of your unnecessary memberships, get chargebacks from airlines, or schedule a DMV appointment in no time!

Use any web browser to access DoNotPay, and check out other tasks we can assist you in:


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