Copyright is a collection of exclusive rights. Anyone that violates any of the exclusive rights of the copyright owner or who imports copies or phonorecords into the United States in violation of copyright law is an infringer of the copyright.
The exclusive right of a copyright includes the right of the owner to reproduce the copyrighted work; to prepare derivative works based upon the original copyrighted work; to distribute copies by sale or by lending; to perform the work publicly in case of any dance or art forms; to display the work publicly in cases where the work is a sculpture or a piece of art; and in case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.
In any civil action under the copyright law, the available relief for a copyright infringement includes injunction and impounding of the infringing articles. Any court having jurisdiction of a civil action may grant temporary and final injunction on such terms as it may deem reasonable to prevent or restrain infringement of a copyright.
At any time while an action is pending, the court may order the impounding of all copies or phonorecords reproduced or used in violation of the exclusive right of the copyright owner. The records documenting the manufacture, sale, or receipt of things involved in any such violation may be seized and shall be taken into the custody of the court. During impounding of records appropriate procedures shall be taken to ensure that confidential, private, proprietary, or privileged information contained in such records is not improperly disclosed or used.
As part of a final judgment or decree, the court may order the destruction or other reasonable disposition of all copies or phonorecords found to have been made or used in violation of the copyright owner’s exclusive rights. All plates, molds, matrices, master tapes, film negatives, or other articles by means of which such copies or phonorecords may be reproduced may also be disposed.
The court in its discretion may also allow the recovery of full costs by or against any party. The court may also award a reasonable attorney’s fee to the prevailing party as part of the costs.
Although, Copyright protection automatically exists from the moment a work is created, a copyright owner cannot proceed with a copyright infringement lawsuit unless the work is registered. If registration is made before or within five years of publication, it will establish prima facie evidence of the copyright. If registration is made within three months after publication of the work or prior to an infringement of the work, statutory damages and attorney’s fees will be available. Otherwise, only an award of actual damages and profits will be available to the copyright owner in a court action.
Under certain circumstances, the infringement may also constitute a criminal misdemeanor or felony, which would be prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice.