A copyright is an exclusive legal right. It is one among other types of intellectual property that allows an original work to be protected. It allows the author as well as anyone else who has permission to use the copyrighted work in any manner they deem fit. This mostly includes the right to circulate or adapt, copy, and typically for a prescribed period. For example: Adapting a novel or manga into a movie or series /anime. This right for obvious reasons has its limitations and advantages.
Let us learn more about what infringement is with the help of examples. We will also discuss copyright infringement laws and how you can best to protect your work or what you can do if something like this happens to you.
What is infringement? “An infringement is a minor offense that involves breaking a rule or a law. If your sister takes a chapter from your book and publishes it as her own, you could sue her for copyright infringement.” Now, copyright infringement is also known as piracy and is “governed by federal statute, namely the Copyright Act of 1976. However, it is important to note that the copying of the work is prohibited–anyone may copy the ideas contained within a work. For example, a copyright could cover a written description of a machine, but the actual machine itself is not covered. Thus, no one could copy the written description, while anyone could use the description to build the described machine. Copyrights can be registered in the Copyright Office in the Library of Congress, but newly created works do not need to be registered. It is no longer necessary to even place a copyright notice on a work for it to be protected by copyright law. However, the Copyright Act does provide additional benefits to those who register with the Copyright Office. Consequently, copyright registration and the use of a copyright notice is recommended.”
HOW CAN ONE GO ABOUT COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT?
- The first & foremost important aspect is to prove that you own the copyrighted product.
- You also need to show proof that someone copied it from you.
Every so often, “proof of copying is accomplished through circumstantial evidence when a plaintiff demonstrates that the defendant had access to the original work and that there is a substantial similarity between both works. Courts determine substantial similarity by looking for similarities between the two works, including their formats, appearance, sound or words, and sequence. While owners do not need to put a notice on their work or register it with the Copyright Office, taking these steps in a timely fashion makes it easier to establish a copyright infringement case later.”
17 U.S. Code § 501 – Infringement of copyright: “(a) Anyone who violates any of the exclusive rights of the copyright owner as provided by sections 106 through 122 or of the author as provided in section 106A(a), or who imports copies or phonorecords into the United States in violation of section 602, is an infringer of the copyright or right of the author, as the case may be. For purposes of this chapter (other than section 506), any reference to copyright shall be deemed to include the rights conferred by section 106A(a). As used in this subsection, the term “anyone” includes any State, any instrumentality of a State, and any officer or employee of a State or instrumentality of a State acting in his or her official capacity. Any State, and any such instrumentality, officer, or employee, shall be subject to the provisions of this title in the same manner and to the same extent as any nongovernmental entity.
(b) The legal or beneficial owner of an exclusive right under a copyright is entitled, subject to the requirements of section 411, to institute an action for any infringement of that particular right committed while he or she is the owner of it. The court may require the such owner to serve written notice of the action with a copy of the complaint upon any person shown, by the records of the Copyright Office or otherwise, to have or claim an interest in the copyright, and shall require that such notice be served upon any person whose interest is likely to be affected by a decision in the case. The court may require the joinder and shall permit the intervention, of any person having or claiming an interest in the copyright.
(c) For any secondary transmission by a cable system that embodies a performance or a display of a work that is actionable as an act of infringement under subsection (c) of section 111, a television broadcast station holding a copyright or other license to transmit or perform the same version of that work shall, for purposes of subsection (b) of this section, be treated as a legal or beneficial owner if such secondary transmission occurs within the local service area of that television station.
(d) For any secondary transmission by a cable system that is actionable as an act of infringement under section 111(c)(3), the following shall also have standing to sue: (i) the primary transmitter whose transmission has been altered by the cable system; and (ii) any broadcast station within whose local service area the secondary transmission occurs.
(e) Concerning any secondary transmission that is made by a satellite carrier of a performance or display of a work embodied in a primary transmission and is actionable as an act of infringement under section 119(a)(5), a network station holding a copyright or other license to transmit or perform the same version of that work shall, for purposes of subsection (b) of this section, be treated as a legal or beneficial owner if such secondary transmission occurs within the local service area of that station.
(f)(1) Concerning any secondary transmission that is made by a satellite carrier of a performance or display of a work embodied in a primary transmission and is actionable as an act of infringement under section 122, a television broadcast station holding a copyright or other license to transmit or perform the same version of that work shall, for purposes of subsection (b) of this section, be treated as a legal or beneficial owner if such secondary transmission occurs within the local market of that station.
(2) A television broadcast station may file a civil action against any satellite carrier that has refused to carry television broadcast signals, as required under section 122(a)(2), to enforce that television broadcast station’s rights under section 338(a) of the Communications Act of 1934.”
17 U.S. Code § 503 – Remedies for infringement: Impounding and disposition of infringing articles: “(a) At any time while an action under this title is pending, the court may order the impounding, on such terms as it may deem reasonable, of all copies or phonorecords claimed to have been made or used in violation of the copyright owner’s exclusive rights, and of all plates, molds, matrices, masters, tapes, film negatives, or other articles using which such copies or phonorecords may be reproduced.
(b) As part of a final judgment or decree, the court may order the destruction or other reasonable disposition of all copies or phonorecords found to have been made or used in violation of the copyright owner’s exclusive rights, and of all plates, molds, matrices, masters, tapes, film negatives, or other articles using which such copies or phonorecords may be reproduced.”
Derivative Works: “Under § 106, the owner of a copyright has the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, perform, display, license, and prepare derivative works based on the copyrighted work.”
Fair Works: “Under § 107, the exclusive rights of the copyright owner are subject to limitation by the doctrine of “fair use.” Fair use of a copyrighted work for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research is not copyright infringement. To determine whether a particular use qualifies as fair use, courts apply the multi-factor balancing test from § 107.”
In the case of Cobbett v. Woodward, the Plaintiff “was a claim to copyright in a catalog of furniture which the publisher had on sale in his establishment, illustrated with many drawings of furniture and decorations. The defendants, being dealers in the same business, published a similar book, and copied many of the plaintiff’s drawings, though it was shown that they had for sale the articles represented thereby. The court held that these drawings were not subjects of copyright. Lord Romilly, M.R., said:
“This is a mere advertisement for the sale of particular articles which anyone might imitate, and anyone might advertise for sale. If a man not being a vendor of any of the articles in question were to publish a work for the purpose of informing the public of what was the most convenient species of articles for household furniture, or the most graceful species of decorations for articles of home furniture, what they ought to cost, and where they might be bought, and were to illustrate his work with designs of each article he described — such a work as this could not be pirated with impunity, and the attempt to do so would be stopped by the injunction of the Court of Chancery; yet if it were done with no such object, but solely for the purpose of advertising particular articles for sale, and promoting the private trade of the publisher by the sale of articles which any other person might sell as well as the first advertiser, and if in fact it contained little more than an illustrated inventory of the contents of a warehouse, I know of no law which, while it would not prevent the second advertiser from selling the same articles, would prevent him from using the same advertisement, provided he did not in such advertisement by any device suggest that he was selling the works and designs of the first advertiser.”
This article provides general information on the subject matter and is not intended to provide legal advice.
 Infringement - Definition, Meaning & Synonyms | Vocabulary.com  Copyright Law in the United States (bitlaw.com)  Copyright Infringement Under U.S. Copyright Law | Justia  17 U.S. Code § 501 - Infringement of copyright | U.S. Code | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute (cornell.edu)  Chapter 5. Copyright Infringement and Remedies - Stanford Copyright and Fair Use Center  copyright | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute (cornell.edu)  Ibid.  Baker v. Selden :: 101 U.S. 99 (1879) :: Justia US Supreme Court Center