World’s Largest Copy Machine Generates Copyright Damages

The founder of Wired Magazine, Kevin Kelly, observed that “The internet is the world’s largest copy machine.” This giant copy machine is easy to operate and explosively expands copying. In addition, technology such as software apps and camera phones create a constant stream of images and other content. Amid this radical change, the law of copyright in all its severity has not changed much. Copying text, photos, artwork, music, software code or even dance routines from the internet may constitute infringement. We surf freely through almost infinite material that is readily copiable while copyright laws exact heavy monetary penalties for infringement. Conditions are ripe for a perfect copyright infringement storm.

Without getting into the details, copyright registration is a pre-requisite to filing an infringement action. If the registration occurs before the infringement, “statutory damages” may be available which can range from $200 to $150,000 per infringed work depending on a variety of factors. Importantly, the court can also award attorney’s fees if statutory damages are available and this can be a major leverage point in litigation. The alternative to statutory damages is “actual damages” which require a showing of lost profits, usually based on the revenue derived by the infringer. Often, the actual damages are minimal, which is why statutory damages are so attractive to many plaintiffs.

Copyright registration fees are relatively cheap, and registration is a great value because one who has timely registered may qualify for statutory damages and an award of attorney’s fees.

Kennyhertz Perry works with a wide range of creative clients to assure that they have the freedom to create while protecting their hard-earned creative property in a modern and fast-moving world. We help our clients understand how the law aligns with their creative process and provide practical advice as to how they can accelerate and leverage their creative output.

Arthur Chaykin is head of Kennyhertz Perry’s Intellectual Property practice. He was formerly a Vice-President of Law at the Sprint Corporation where he served as, in succession, their chief litigator, the head of the business law department, and Vice President of the first legal department at Sprint supporting marketing and sales in all areas of Sprint’s business: international, wireless, wireline, local and long-distance services. At Sprint, he also served as the head lawyer for Sprint Ethics and Compliance program. He has since served as General Counsel to a major manufacturer and distributor of automotive lifting equipment and automotive accessories and has represented numerous clients on trademark matters, copyright cases, trade secrets disputes, food safety regulatory issues, and consumer product safety issues. has over 35 years of legal experience handling trademark, patent, copyright, and trade secret litigation and arbitration.

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