Someone accused you of copyright infringement, and you worry the individual may have a case against you. Understanding how parties prove copyright infringement may help you navigate the legal process.
Chron breaks down the elements of proving infringement. Learn how to prepare your defense with helpful insights.
When someone violates a copyright holder’s right to distribute, copy, display or perform a copyrighted work, that may become infringement. Penalties for the crime include statutory and monetary damages, legal fees and injunctions, possibly jail time.
To have grounds for legal action, the copyright holder must show proof of a valid copyright, such as a certificate, and evidence of wrongdoing. Elements of unsanctioned copying include the accused party having access to the original work and ample proof that the two works bear similarities. If the copyright holder does not have sufficient evidence that the accused had access to the protected work, then the accused may claim that she or he independently created the material.
Sometimes, the public has generous access to creative works, which may make it hard for a defendant to claim similar work as independent. Under such circumstances, a court may claim the defendant had access to the material in question.
Defending against infringement
As part of your defense, consider the principle of fair use. With it, you must show that you only used the copyrighted work for educational or non-commercial use and that the copyright allows for such use. You must also show that you did not utilize the full work, and that your use did not impact the copyrighted material’s intended audience.