What Happens When You're Accused Of Copyright Infringement

Posted on: 9 May 2016

When you've been charged with copyright infringement, you might initially feel worried about the kind of sentence you might get. After all, you've seen the serious FBI warnings that come before a movie threatening thousands of dollars in fines and years in prison. Here is what you need to know about legal penalties for copyright violations and what you can expect when you've been accused. 

Your case probably will probably deal with civil instead of criminal law.

Even though copyright laws do extend into criminal court, most copyright cases will be handled as civil suits. After all, the producer of the original material is trying to protect their property, and sending you to jail will not do much to help recover any lost income. Instead, they could sue for damages and put other stops in place, like a gag order or an injunction, to prevent you from producing any more borrowed material. 

If you are accused, your lawyer will do everything he or she can to keep your case in civil court, because it will mean no jail time and no fines. Most importantly, it will also mean that after the case is settled, you won't have a criminal record. It is also easier to fight a civil case because you can argue whether or not copyright was actually violated and whether the regular rules applied to you and your circumstances. Civil law can be more accommodating than criminal statutes. 

If criminal charges are pursued, you can still avoid jail time.

Unfortunately, copyright infringement is a crime that is committed by millions of people across the United States. Pictures are used without permission, songs are downloaded without payment, and videos are watched and uploaded to YouTube and other streaming sites without permission. Because it is such a widespread crime, it is unlikely that you will spend the full amount of time in prison unless your infringement of the law was blatant and large in scale. For example, if you ran a site similar to YouTube that profited off of pirated content, you could face time in jail. However, smaller incidents do not demand the same severe punishment simply because those committing the same crime are contributing, generally law-abiding citizens who are taking advantage of a world where policing intellectual property is difficult. Your criminal attorney, like those at Alejandro Rivera PA - A Law Firm or a similar location, can argue for a relaxed sentence (a small fine or community service), especially if this is your first offense.

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