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What damages can you pursue in a music copyright theft?

On Behalf of | Oct 18, 2022 | Entertainment Law |

When you work hard to produce a great work of art, you need to protect it from unlawful use. This is where the Copyright Act of 1976 comes in to grant you exclusive rights to your work. And if someone infringes upon these rights, you can sue them for damages.

Copyright infringement happens when someone unlawfully uses your copyrighted work. An example of this would be a situation where someone unlawfully reproduces and sells your music or alters your work for their benefit. Here are three types of damages you can pursue in a copyright lawsuit.

 Actual damages

Actual damages consist of any provable loss in the dollar amount you suffered following the infringing activity. Some of the actual damages you might pursue include sales that you have potentially lost to the infringer, loss of license revenue as well as any other financial loss that you can directly link to the infringement.

Infringer’s profits

You can also sue for the money the infringer earned as a result of their actions. However, it is important to understand that these damages will only be awarded if they exceed the actual damages lost following the infringement.

Statutory damages

In most copyright cases, proving actual damages and the infringer’s profits is never easy. How do you really tell the number of CD copies you would have sold, or the amount you lost due to the infringer’s actions? The numbers are murky at best. Fortunately, the Copyright Act provides for statutory damages. This is a specific financial compensation set in law. Depending on the circumstances of your case, statutory damages can range from $500-$2000. However, you can only be entitled to statutory damages if you have registered your work with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Copyright infringement costs artists their hard-earned money. Knowing your legal options can help you pursue compensation and protect your work from unlawful use.