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What is copyright infringement?

The federal government recognizes the value of the creation of artistic works, which is why copyright laws have been put into place. However, these laws are often violated, many times unintentionally. Yet, copyright infringement is treated very seriously under the law, and those who are accused of violating these laws can be confronted with serious penalties.

So, what exactly is copyright infringement? Copyright infringement occurs when another violates an individual's rights under the law, whether it is another individual, a company or the state. The laws that are protected under copyright law include the right to reproduce and distribute a work, create derivative works and perform the work publicly. By protecting these rights, the government seeks to ensure a creator's artistic and financial interests are held intact. Although many instances of copyright infringement result in civil litigation, in some cases it can rise to the level of criminal activity.

When an individual willfully violates an individual's copyright rights, then he or she may face criminal charges if certain circumstances exist. For example, if the infringement was for the purpose of one's financial gain, then criminal charges may be brought. Additionally, disseminating a protected work that was intended for commercial distribution can be considered a crime if the infringer either knew or should have known that the work was meant to be used in a commercial nature.

A criminal conviction for copyright infringement can lead to prison and fines that are disastrous to one's financial stability. For this reason, those who are accused of committing copyright infringement need to ensure they do everything they can to protect themselves. This means diligently assessing the facts of the case, applicable statutory and case law,and crafting compelling criminal defense arguments. To learn more about how to do this, accused individuals can discuss the matter with a qualified attorney.

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