Bigger Stakes (And a Bigger Stick) for Publishers Who Sue Copyright Infringers

April 2000
by Jonathan Kirsch

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Jonathan KirschJonathan Kirsch, a publishing attorney based in Los Angeles, is general counsel of the Independent Book Publishers Association and a recipient of its Benjamin Franklin Award for excellence in publishing.


Among the many recent changes in the US Copyright Act is one that offers a crucial benefit to publishers and other copyright owners—an increase in the dollar amount of “statutory” or “in lieu” damages that are available to copyright owners who sue for infringement of a registered work of authorship.

Thanks to a recent amendment to the Copyright Act, the range of statutory damages has been enhanced, and the maximum award of statutory damages is now $150,000, a 50% increase over the previous limit. And the availability of such damages may make a crucial difference to the publisher who is trying to decide whether or not to sue a copyright infringer.

“Actual” vs. “Statutory” Damages

The key consideration in many copyright infringement cases is whether the publisher is entitled to recover only “actual damages and profits,” which must be proven in a specific amount by a showing of evidence, or “statutory damages,” which may be imposed by the court without any proof of actual damages. Statutory damages are sometimes called “in lieu” damages…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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