In copyright litigation, the owner of a registered copyright must prove copying of constituent elements of the copyrighted work that are original. Absent evidence of direct copying, proof of infringement involves fact-based showings that the defendant had access to the plaintiff's work and that the two works are substantially similar.
The remedies in a copyright infringement action can include plaintiff's damages and defendant's profits. In certain circumstances, the copyright owner can elect to recover statutory damages of $750 to $30,000 (non-willful) and up to $150,000 (willful) instead of damages/profits. In certain cases, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA"), 17 U.S.C. §512, can limit a copyright owner's remedies.
We have litigated a variety of copyright infringement actions, including actions in federal court, involving 2-dimensional artwork, photographs, books, movies and infomercials.
The United States Copyright Office explains that "Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. . ." www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-general.html#what. Common examples of copyright include 2-dimensional artwork, websites, photographs, books, movies and software code.
"Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed." Id.
"Copyright exists from the moment the work is created." Id. A copyright must be registered to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work.