Copyright Infringement: Meaning and Remedies

Copyright Infringement refers to the use of a copyrighted work by a third party without the knowledge/permission of the owner. In such a case, the person can seek civil or criminal remedies by filing a lawsuit against the infringer.

Though every creation automatically falls under copyright protection, however; a person can seek for the damages only when the copyright is duly registered.

When does a Copyright gets Infringed? 

A Copyright can be infringed in different ways depending on how the work is used in the market.

  • Making copies of the copyrighted work for sale.
  • Distribution or display of the work through the public exhibition.
  • Importing infringing works in India.
  • Exploitation of the owner’s rights through piracy or reproduction of the work.
  • Any copyrighted work being played or performed in front of the paying public.

But, there are also a few exclusions.

Copyrighted Works which are used for education, research, news reporting, criticism or review, judicial proceedings or legislative pretexts does not count as Infringement. This can be done by giving proper citation or credits to the copyright owner.

Note: In this case, there is no requirement of prior permission of the owner.

How to handle Copyright Infringement?

The Copyright Owner can take the infringer to court and seek damages through civil or criminal remedies. For this,

  • You must possess the proof of ownership of the copyright (Registration Certificate or any other supporting document).
  • There is evidence that the original work was copied or infringed.
  • The reproduction of the work has created confusion for the public.

However; you can also send a notice to the infringer to take down or stop the action before taking legal action. If taken to court, the judge can pass any of the order depending on the proceedings of the case.

Civil Remedies

  • Seizure of the infringing copies under temporary custody for evidence.
  • Destroying all the infringing copies of the work and stop dealing in the same.
  • Allow the plaintiff’s (copyright owner) lawyer(s) to search infringer’s property and confiscate any related work material for safe custody.
  • Call for information from all the parties involved in the infringement along with its customers and suppliers.
  • Financial relief to the copyright owner in the form of compensation for the damage equating the value of the infringed goods or loss of the profits.  
  • Refrain the infringer to stop actions which might result in causing further damage to the copyrighted work.

Criminal Prosecution

As per the provisions of The Copyright Act, the infringer might also face imprisonment of minimum 6 months to 3 years or payment of fine ranging from Rs. 50,000 to 2 Lakh.

The punishment for piracy can also include confiscating the infringing material to deliver to the rightful owner.

Note: In line with the TRIPs agreement, Indian Law follow a mandatory punishment for piracy.

How to prevent Copyright Infringement?

Since all the works fall naturally under the copyright protection, it is necessary to make sure you do not infringe the rights of any other person.

  • The creator is not bound to give a copyright notice which means it does not necessarily mean that the work is not protected.
  • If you are using the work without the author’s permission, make sure that it is within the scope of fair use.
  • Check for licenses and permissions before using the free resources available on the Internet.


Related Articles