PHONE: 410-295-3000

Home » What Is Copyright Infringement?

What Is Copyright Infringement?

Our Annapolis Business Attorneys at Oliveri & Larsen Can Protect Your Business

Understanding the intricacies of copyright law is paramount for business owners. Copyright infringement can have severe legal and financial ramifications. This blog aims to shed light on crucial facts about copyright infringement that every business owner in Maryland should be aware of. The information provided here is direct and intended to guide you towards safeguarding your creative works and ensuring your business practices comply with the law.

Understanding Copyright Infringement

Copyright infringement occurs when copyrighted material is used, reproduced, distributed, or performed without the copyright holder’s authorization. This can include anything from written works, music, films, and video games to software. It is essential to understand that copyright protects the expression of ideas, not the ideas themselves. Hence, how an idea is expressed in a work is safeguarded against unauthorized use.

Automatic Protection

As soon as a work is created and fixed in a tangible form that is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device, it is protected by copyright. This means that creative works are automatically protected from the moment of their creation without the need for registration. However, registering a copyright can provide significant legal benefits in case of infringement.

Exceptions Exist

Not all use of copyrighted material is considered infringement. The doctrine of fair use allows for limited use of copyrighted material without permission for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research. Determining fair use involves a balance of factors and is often complex.

Penalties Can Be Severe

Penalties for copyright infringement can range from civil lawsuits to criminal charges, leading to hefty fines and even imprisonment. Statutory damages can be costly enough, and if willful infringement is proven, this amount can increase substantially.

Infringement Is Not Always Obvious

Infringement does not only occur through direct copying. Substantial similarities between works can also lead to infringement claims. Businesses must exercise caution when deriving inspiration from existing works.

Global Protection

Copyright laws vary by country, but international treaties extend protection across borders, offering security for works distributed globally.

Protecting Your Business

For business owners, the stakes are high. The digital age offers immense opportunities for distributing and monetizing creative works, but it also presents risks of unintentional infringement. Here are steps you can take to protect your business:

  • Conduct due diligence: Before using any material not originally yours, ensure thorough research to determine its copyright status. Seek permission when in doubt.
  • Educate your team: Ensure your employees know copyright laws and the importance of respecting intellectual property rights.
  • Leverage copyright registration: While not mandatory, registering your copyrights provides legal advantages, including the ability to sue for statutory damages and attorney’s fees.
  • Implement policies and procedures: Develop clear policies for handling copyrighted material and procedures for addressing potential infringements.

Our Annapolis Business Attorneys at Oliveri & Larsen Can Protect Your Business

Copyright infringement is a serious issue that can have lasting implications for your business. Ignorance of the law is not a defense, and business owners are responsible for ensuring compliance. Speak with our Annapolis business attorneys at Oliveri & Larsen today. Contact us online or call us at 410-295-3000 to schedule a consultation. Located in Annapolis, we serve clients in Ocean City, Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Baltimore City, Calvert County, Harford County, Howard County, Queen Anne’s County, St. Mary’s County, Worcester County, Kent County, and the upper and lower Eastern Shores of Maryland.

Contact Us

Call Us: 410-295-3000

We are determined to provide expert legal counsel as well as the highest level of service and attention to each client. Our clients are our barometers of success as a team and law firm.