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When is copyright infringement a criminal case?

The Internet makes searching and sharing information easy, but sharing can lead to copyright infringement. Simple searches reveal music, artistic images, literary work and technical drawings for anyone to see, and unfortunately, even misuse, albeit unknowingly. Many people may not even be aware they are breaking the law because they don’t know what copyright infringement entails.

What is copyright? It is a form of protection offered to the author of a work. It is granted by law to the creator of work fixed in a tangible medium of expression, whether it is published or not. This means that intellectual property law protects original works of authorship from the moment they are created, whether they are registered or not. Some examples of work protected are movies, songs, computer programs, books and poetry.

Many people may think that a work must be registered for protection to take place, but this is not the case. Copyright infringement exists regardless of that. Infringement becomes a criminal offense if the infringement was committed for the purpose of financial gain, by reproducing or distributing a certain number of copies over a certain number of days or by making it available on a computer to members of the public. These actions must be willfully committed to make copyright infringement a criminal case. However, it is important to know that simply providing evidence of reproduction or distribution of a copyrighted work, without additional evidence, is not enough to establish a case.

Those who have been accused of criminal copyright infringement should consider consulting an experienced attorney for guidance as soon as possible. Though white-collar crimes may seem minor in the beginning, their penalties are very serious and have serious repercussions. Thus, preparing a strong criminal defense is your best strategy to overcome such allegations or charges.

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