Copyrighted works are protected so that nobody can take someone else’s work and profit from it. Finding out about copyrights is an important step to take for any business or individual before using anything that they didn’t create on their own.

When there are issues that come up related to copyrights, there are specific steps that must be taken. Depending on the severity of the infringement, there is a chance that a person who violates a copyright might face very serious penalties.

Steps when a copyright is violated

One of the first things that a copyright holder must do when they discover a violation is to notify the violator that the work is being used illegally. This will usually include a request to take the work down or stop using it. If a person refuses to do this, a cease and desist letter might be forthcoming. It is also possible that the work might be removed by a web-hosting company or internet service provider.

Types of infringement

The extent of infringement matters when a penalty is being assessed. It is possible that a person can face time in prison or a monetary penalty for each work. If there is one isolated incident, it is unlikely that the person will face a severe penalty. The exception to this is if the work had a clear copyright notice, but it will be up to the copyright holder to decide what action to take.

Legal action

A person who holds the copyright can opt to sue a person who is in violation. This civil lawsuit can seek damages for the lost sales. It is also possible for a person to seek up to $150,000 in statutory damages and legal fees if the work has a registration with the U.S. Copyright Office. It is possible that a person can also seek the profits made from the works used without their permission.

On top of a civil case, it is also possible that a criminal case can arise. Typically, these cases are reserved for very serious copyright infringement cases, such as those that have multiple violations and are meant for personal or commercial gain. If a criminal case is successful, the person could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up $250,000.

Before bringing legal action in an infringement case, you have to make sure that you’ve done your investigative work. A well-prepared case can go a long way to bring resolution to the matter.