Can copyright infringement lead to criminal prosecution
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Issued on 7th October 2010
The simple answer would be yes as Copyright law in UK allows
for criminal prosecution where there is deliberate intent or
passing-off in a commercial context. In reality it is not a simple as
it may sound.
What a court can order in
The judge have the
power to imprison and place fines on the convicted party, and
infringing goods may also be seized. However even if you succeed in a
criminal prosecution case, you may need to bring a separate civil case
to recover financial losses caused by the infringement.
The difficulty of proving intent and the
higher standard of proof ('beyond reasonable doubt') required for a
criminal prosecution means that copyright infringement is almost always
dealt with as a civil procedure with the aim of recovering damages.
Damages in a civil case are tied to the
provable losses of the plaintiff plus the costs of the legal action.
Civil courts do not act to punish, simply to restore a wrong situation.
In theory damages can be increased to take account of flagrancy of
abuse but generally the courts will award pretty much the fee that
should have been paid for legitimate use.
There is no concept of punitive damages in
UK copyright law, unlike the USA where damages can be very substantial
for registered works. UK law is clearly only a weak deterrent to
infringers as the worst that can happen is that they pay little more
than if they had licensed legitimately. Since much of the time their
infringements will go undetected, on balance it may be seen as sound
business by the infinging party not to obtaining permission.
Although there are criminal prosecution a
victim of copyright infringement can bring, it is rare for criminal
proceedings to be bought against the infringing party, because for the
victim to recover the financial losses he/she would still need to
proceed with a civil action.
Rashidul Islam is a
Trainee at Lawdit
Solicitors and can be contacted by email email@example.com
About the Author
Lawdit Solicitors offer services and
advice for litigation, commercial contracts, Intellectual Property and IT legal
agreements. We are experts in commercial law with a heavy emphasis on
Intellectual Property, Internet and e-commerce law. Lawdit is a member of the
International Trademark Association, the Solicitors' Association of Higher Court
Advocates and we are the appointed Solicitors to the largest webdesign
association in the world, the United Kingdom Website Designers Association.
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2010-11-02 12:08:27 in Legal Articles