Copyright Infringement Cases
Copyright infringement cases tend to be high profile lawsuits either because of the extent of the damages awarded, or because the nature of the infractions is so large. Given the fact that judges can award as much as thirty thousand dollars per copyright infringement and increase that amount to one-hundred and fifty thousand dollars in the case of willful infringement, educators, the media, lawyers, companies and the general public want to hear about the outcomes of copyright infringement cases.
To better understand the enormity of these cases both in monetary terms, and the scope in which individuals will infringe upon others under the guise of running a legitimate business, let's look at a few general examples. The music industry is the first to come to mind, as they have been successful in suing both online companies and individuals they deem to have infringed upon their copyrights. Judges have awarded millions of dollars to conglomerates who went after everyday people utilizing peer-peer networks (P2P file sharing). And while the individuals who downloaded the music have said that the number of downloads was nominal or that they didn't know the files included copyrighted material, judges chose to make examples out of those individuals. It remains to be seen, though, whether they will even have the capabilities of honoring those judgments in their lifetimes.
Further, specific online businesses have been shut down for making songs available before first putting a deal in place with the music groups. And while some have defended themselves saying that they only provided snippets, which should be considered fair use, judges have felt the motives were willful. In other words, maybe the site did not profit directly from the sale of the music, but by creating the site and making the material available, it profited from advertising dollars that would not have been there solely on the basis of the website.
Other copyright infringement cases have included newspapers who sued search engines for providing their articles in search results, thereby giving users free access to the material and causing the publishers to lose revenues. By copying and distributing the exact titles of the articles as well as excerpts, the newspapers felt the search engines were not in fact helping them, but were actually a detriment to their business models.
Freelance authors have also sought court judgments for having their works exploited by online newspapers and magazines. Once digitization was possible, some publishers felt that because copyrights refered to be printed material, they could reproduce works by independent authors. They were actually compiling the works and charging users pay-per-use fees or membership dues to read the material. The authors who owned the copyrights on the articles did not receive a penny in compensation. Consequently, they went to court and won a settlement, since distributing their works and receiving payment was a copyright infringement.
Lastly, another example of copyright infringement cases involves the reproduction of new books such as memoirs. Publishers have chosen to quote excerpts or whole chapters from books that they have received prior to public launches. As a result, courts have found that the publisher decreased the marketability of the books by giving away explicit sections of the book. Consequently, the authors would have lost revenues.
There are plenty of cases in all areas of copyright infringement that have gone to court. And as the internet gets bigger and faster, there is no doubt that there will be many more to come.