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Encyclopedia > Statutory damages for copyright infringement

Statutory damages for copyright infringement are available under some countries' copyright laws. They allow copyright holders who succeed with claims of infringement to receive a certain amount of compensation per work (as opposed to compensation for losses, an account of profits or damages per infringing copy). Statutory damages can in some cases be significantly more than the actual damages suffered by the rights holder or the profits of the infringer. The copyright symbol is used to give notice that a work is covered by copyright. ... In law, damages refers either to the harm suffered by a plaintiff in a civil action, or to the money paid or awarded to the plaintiff in compensation for such harm. ...

At least in America, the original rationale for statutory damages was that it would often be difficult to establish the number of copies that had been made by an underground pirate business; awards of statutory damages would save rights holders from having to do so.

With the advent of litigation against individual P2P file sharers, statutory damages have become a spectacular threat which copyright industries can use against private individuals. The typical American file sharer would face statutory damages larger than all of their assets. File sharing is the activity of making files available to other users for download over the Internet, but also over smaller networks. ...

Statutory Damages in the United States

In the United States, statutory damages are set out in Title 17, Section 504 of the U.S. Code. The basic level of damages is between $750 and $30,000 per work, at the discretion of the court. The United States Code (U.S.C.) is the general and permanent federal Law of the United States. ...

Plaintiffs who can show willfull infringement may be entitled to damages up to $150,000 per work. Defendants who can show that they were "not aware and had no reason to believe" they were infringing copyright may have the damages reduced to $200 per work. A plaintiff, also known as a claimant or complainant, is the party who initiates a lawsuit (also known as an action) before a court. ... A defendant or defender is any party who is required to answer the complaint of a plaintiff or pursuer in a civil lawsuit before a court, or any party who has been formally charged or accused of violating a criminal statute. ...

Under 17 USC 412, statutory damages are only available in the United States for works that were registered with the Copyright Office prior to infringement, or within three months of publication. In some forms of copyright laws, only a copyright registration makes a creative work eligible for protection. ... The United States Copyright Office, a part of the Library of Congress, is the official U.S. government body that maintains records of copyright registration in the United States. ...

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