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The Federal Copyright Act and Protection Against Copyright Infringement

According to Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, Congress has the power to protect the exclusive rights of “authors and inventors” in order to support scientific and artistic innovation. As such, Congress enacted the Copyright Act under Title 17 of the United States Code outlining the legal framework of copyrights in order to provide legal protection for authors and inventors.

Section 101 of the Copyright Act defines the various terms associated with copyright law. For example, for purposes of the Copyright Act, a “work” constitutes a tangible product when it is initially “fixed in a copy.” Section 102 lists the types of works that the Copyright Act applies to, which include, among others, written, musical, and photographic works. A copyright owner has certain exclusive rights in relation to his or her creation. Under Section 106 of the Copyright Act, copyright owners have the right to reproduce, distribute, perform, and display their works. This implies that non-owners do not have these same rights towards copyrighted material, which generates issues of copyright infringement and unauthorized use of copyrighted material.

Copyright infringement is the violation of a copyright owner’s exclusive rights under the Copyright Act. Sections 501-513 of the Copyright Act outline penalties for copyright infringement, which may include payment for damages, a court order to stop the unauthorized use of copyrighted material (i.e., injunction), and jail time.

Issues involving the unauthorized use of copyrighted material are prominent in the legal community. Earlier this month, the co-founder of Pirate Bay – a file-sharing website – was arrested for perpetuating the unauthorized use of copyrighted material such as movies and music. He now faces fines amounting to over $4 million and possible jail time. There are also cases regarding potential copyright infringement claims involving famous works of art, video games, music, and even the well-known “Hope” poster of President Obama that debuted during the 2008 election.

At the Law Offices of Salar Atrizadeh, we guide California consumers and businesses in matters related to intellectual property by using legal knowledge and skills to create solutions for our clients. Please contact us today online or at (310) 694-3034 to set up a confidential consultation.