question.jpgIn Copyrights

What are statutory damages?

The Copyright Act provides that a successful plaintiff in a copyright infringement lawsuit can seek statutory damages, rather than trying to prove actual damages, if the work at issue was registered prior to the infringing activity. The Copyright Act currently defines the amount of these statutory damages as being between $750 and $30,000 per infringed work, with the final amount to be determined by the court (i.e., the court will basically decide what amount is just).

While the copyright owner can get separate awards from different works, he cannot get separate awards for each act of infringement. So for each unlawful copying of the same book, the copyright owner is not entitled to a separate $750-$30,000 award.

If the copyright owner can show that infringing action was willful, the court can increase the statutory damages award up to $150,000. Similarly, where the infringing party can argue and prove that he did not know he was infringing the copyright and there was no reason to know he was infringing, the court can decrease the statutory damages to as low as $200.