Statute of Limitations on Copyright Infringement in a Nutshell 

Copyright infringement is one of the problems authors often encounter. If you create some work, you should learn how to copyright to protect it from misuse. It’s always good to be familiar with copyright laws, such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, to be prepared for taking action in case someone steals your work. 

If someone used your work without your permission, you can file a lawsuit against that person. In case you decide to take your copyright case to court, know that you should do it within a certain time limit. To learn more about it, check out what the statute of limitations on copyright infringement means.

Copyright Infringement—Statute of Limitations 


Statute of limitations defines the time limit for filing a copyright lawsuit, and you can find it in Section 507 of the Copyright Act. According to this statute, you can bring a civil lawsuit for copyright infringement within three years. In the case of criminal proceedings, this period is longer—five years. 

Statute of limitations on copyright infringement is open to different interpretations, so judges usually use two rules when deciding when it begins:

  1. The discovery rule
  2. The injury rule

The Discovery Rule

Most judges will follow the discovery rule to decide when the statute of limitations starts. This rule allows you to file a copyright lawsuit within three years after you discover that somebody stole your copyright-protected work. 

This means that you can bring a copyright lawsuit even if the infringement happened more than three years before you discovered it. The judges use this rule because it is often difficult to find out about your work being copied since infringers can conceal it well. They will also take into account whether you could have found out about the infringement sooner than you did, in case it was committed more than three years before your lawsuit.

To make sure you file a lawsuit on time, get in touch with your lawyer as soon as you notice someone stole your work.

The Injury Rule

A smaller number of federal courts—such as those in the Second Circuit—will use the injury rule to determine when the statute of limitations begins. By this rule, you can bring a lawsuit against the copyright infringer up to three years after the infringement happened. It follows that if you don’t notice that someone copied your work on time, you won’t be able to claim your copyrights. 

What if the Statute of Limitation Expires Before You File a Lawsuit?

In some cases, judges may allow you to recover your monetary damages for the copyright infringement that happened more than three years before you discovered it. Some courts will offer you full recovery of the damages. Other courts will give you only the recovery of damages for the copyright infringement that happened within the three-year time frame before your lawsuit.

How To Protect Your Work From Copyright Infringement

If you want to make sure your copyrights don’t get violated but don’t want to file a lawsuit, you can write a copyright notice and get DMCA protection. Making a copyright claim based on the DMCA means you can stop infringers from using your work since they will need to delete the content that damages your copyrights. If you want to file a lawsuit against a copycat, you should hire a lawyer.

What is DMCA?

DMCA, or Digital Millennium Copyright Act, is a U.S. law that guarantees copyrights to authors and establishes obligations of copyright holders. This act allows digital users to file a takedown notice if they find out someone stole their work. 

Ways To Make a DMCA Copyright Claim

In case you recognize a copyright infringement of your digital work, you can file a DMCA notice and request the infringing material to be taken down. There are two ways you can do this:

DMCA Takedown Option Features

On Your Own

  • Write a takedown notice and send it to the website host

Using DoNotPay

  • Let DoNotPay deal with the takedown notices and communication with the hosts

DoNotPay—The Easiest Way To File a DMCA Notice

If you think someone copied your work, get your revenge by using DoNotPay to file a takedown notice against that person. With DoNotPay, you won’t need to spend a fortune on hiring a lawyer to protect your copyrights or waste time on creating a copyright claim by yourself. We have helped many people to solve their small legal issues, and this was recognized by the American Bar Association, which honored us with the Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access in 2020.

Our app allows you to create a DMCA takedown notice in a simple and quick way! Here is how to do it:

  1. Set up your DoNotPay account in any web browser
  2. Select the DMCA Takedown option
  3. Provide the name of the content that was infringed
  4. Give us links to your original work and the infringing content
  5. Confirm your contact details
  6. Tap Sign and Submit
  7. Click on the My Disputes tab to see the results

DoNotPay can file a takedown notice for you even if you don’t have your work registered or don’t possess any proof of ownership.

What To Consider Before Making a Copyright Claim

Before you make a copyright claim, analyze the content you believe is infringing to see whether their usage of your material falls under the domain of fair use. Fair use is a doctrine that grants protection if someone uses copyrighted work without the copyright owner’s permission for the purpose of:

  1. Education
  2. Research
  3. Commentary
  4. Criticism
  5. News reporting

If you bring a lawsuit against the infringer, you might lose the case if the usage of your material falls under some of the above. In case someone gives a new meaning to your work, uses only bits of it to convey its message, or makes a parody of it, you are also unlikely to win the lawsuit since these cases also belong to the fair use domain. Before making any decision about bringing your case to court, consult with your lawyer.

DoNotPay—Your Salvation From Bureaucracy

You can use DoNotPay to find out more about how copyright works! If your content on YouTube gets copied, learn how to make a copyright claim. Not sure how long copyright lasts? Get more information about it on our website!

In case you want to know how copyright functions on different social media, learn about the copyright disclaimer on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.

Use any web browser to access DoNotPay, and check out all the other tasks and issues we can assist you with: