What kind of damages might I receive if someone infringes upon or uses my copyright?
Several types of damages are available if someone infringes upon your copyright.
The first type of damages is called actual damages. This is a claim for you or business’ actual losses. For example, let’s assume that you have a copyrighted book that has generated $500,000 dollars in profits for your business for the last 3 years. If someone improperly copies your book and sells it on their website, causing you to lose $400,000 in annual profits, you can sue that party for the $400,000 in actual losses.
A second type of damages that you may recover is the defendant’s profits that arise from selling the infringing copies. Using the same example as above, this means that if the defendant’s profits are $200,000 from its unauthorized sales of your book, you can recover the defendant’s $200,000 in profits.
A third type of damages is called statutory damages. This type of damages can be quite significant and may range from $750 to $30,000 and may be increased to $150,000 if you can prove the infringement was willful. The key to recovering this type of damages, however, is that the copyright owner must file for a timely registration of the copyright within 90 days of first publication of the copyright.
A fourth type of damages is recovery of attorney’s fees. This recovery is also important in cases where the amount in controversy may be smaller or if only an injunction is at issue. Like recover of statutory damages, recovery of attorney’s fees also depends on a timely copyright registration within 90 days of publication.
In sum, there are varying forms of recovery of damages and attorney’s fees available under the Copyright Act.
Please Note: Rabin Kammerer Johnson provides these FAQ’s for informational purposes only, and you should not interpret this information as legal advice. If you want advice as to how the law might apply to the specific facts and circumstances of your case, please contact one of our attorneys.