Copyright Infringement Litigation

Knowledgeable representation for plaintiff artists and defendants

No matter how scrupulously an artist tries to protect a created work, infringements happen. Especially today, when there are so many tools for appropriating content, artists must be vigilant and outlets for creative content must exercise due diligence to stay on the right side of the law. However, when an infringement is alleged, it is not good for either party. The creator's work can be devalued even while actual damages are impossible to ascertain, and the alleged infringer of the property could face crippling statutory penalties. Mazzarella & Mazzarella LLP has extensive experience on both sides of the issue, protecting creators' copyrighted work and defending users from allegations of infringement. We implement proven strategies to resolve disputes in our client's favor. Often we are able to negotiate a mutually beneficial licensing agreement. However, when litigation is necessary, we dedicate our skill and resources to protecting our client's interests in state or federal court.

Common defenses to allegations of copyright infringement

As legal representatives for creators and users of creative content, we fully understand how to prosecute a case or defend an alleged infringement. Defenses that are available include:

  • Invalid copyright. The defendant asserts that the work is not original, lacks copyrightable subject matter, or that the plaintiff does not own the copyright.
  • Public domain. If contents of the work are in the public domain, the plaintiff cannot claim copyright.
  • Court has no jurisdiction. The copyright was not properly registered.
  • Independent creation. The alleged infringer created a substantially similar work without any knowledge of the plaintiff's creation.
  • Permissible copying. Use of protected content is de minimis, or the portion that was copied is not protectable material.
  • Fair use. Many uses of copyrighted material are protected, such as quoting sections of a book or visually presenting an artwork as part of a critique or news story.
  • Statute of limitations. An artist cannot bring a civil action after three years from the time of the infringement.
  • Permission. The owner of the copyright may have granted permission or licensed use of the work.

Often there is no valid defense for a user's appropriation of created material. But that doesn't necessarily make the case easier to resolve. Getting the parties to agree on the appropriate remedy, or getting the court to order one, is often difficult. That's where our experience on both sides of the issue is particularly valuable.

Remedies for copyright infringement

The federal Copyright Act provides the following remedies for an infringement of a protected work:

  • Infringer pays the actual dollar amount of damages and profits.
  • The law provides a range from $200 to $150,000 for each work infringed.
  • Infringer pays for all attorney fees and court costs.
  • The court can issue an injunction to stop the infringing acts.
  • The court can impound the illegal works.
  • The infringer can go to jail.

Plaintiff artists often find it difficult to prove actual damages. The wide range of statutory damages makes an adverse court ruling highly probable. Under these circumstances, we have often found that the best resolution is a negotiated licensing agreement that allows the plaintiff to monetize the creation and relieves the defendant from possible harsh statutory penalties.

Contact our experienced San Diego intellectual property attorneys for your copyright dispute

Creators and users of copyrighted materials need strong advocacy. Mazzarella & Mazzarella LLP offers proven strategies for achieving beneficial resolutions for infringement disputes. Call us at 619-238-4900 or contact us online to schedule a consultation at our San Diego, California office.