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Copyright infringement is the reproduction, distribution, performance, public display, or derivation of a copyrighted work without the explicit authorization of the copyright owner. Infringement is a serious offense that violates any one or more of the exclusive rights granted to copyright owners.
Copyright infringement comes in three forms - direct, vicarious and contributory.
... violate a copyright owner's exclusive rights.
... may have the right to control infringing activities.
... may expect to profit or benefit from the infringement.
... may actively operate or supervise a place where infringement occurs.
... may control the content of the infringing program.
... are aware that infringement is taking place.
... encourage, cause or contribute to infringement.
All copyright owners have the right to seek recovery of actual damages and lost profits when infringement takes place. Infringement disputes are heard in federal court, and when the plaintiff prevails, the court may:
If the violated work has been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, the courts may also:
In cases where the defendant proves that he was unaware that he was infringing on copyright, the court has the option of reducing statutory damages to an award of not less than $200.
Copyright law further limits remedies that may awarded in the event of unintentional infringement on the part of employees of non-profit public broadcasters or educational institutions (i.e. colleges, universities, libraries, archives). A court shall remit statutory damages as long as the employee is acting within the scope of his job and believes that his use of the copyrighted material was protected by fair use.