How Much Is Enough?

Lion Stance-Copyright Carolyn E. Wright

Development of new technology has created additional incentive for copyright thieves to steal protected works. The advent of DVDs, for example, has enabled infringers to produce perfect secondhand copies. Many computer users are either ignorant that copyright laws apply to their Internet activity or they think that they will not be caught or prosecuted for their conduct.

Many infringers also do not consider the current copyright infringement penalties a real threat and continue to infringe, even after a copyright owner puts them on notice that their actions constitute infringement and that they should stop the activity or face legal action.

Sound familiar? Have you experienced this with your photographs?

These thoughts aren’t new. They come from H.R. 1761 (106th Congress): entitled, the “Copyright Damages Improvement Act of 1999.” Statutory damages have been available as a federal remedy for copyright infringement since the Copyright Act of 1790. The 1999 amendments, which increased penalties for willful infringement, were expressly designed “to have a significant deterrent effect on copyright infringement.”

The only way that you can get statutory damages for an infringement is by timely registering your copyrights. Check this chart for what an infringement is worth. The maximum available statutory damages per work (photograph) now is $150,000. But is that enough? Seems not to be, as people continue to infringe, even when sued multiple times. So, how much is enough?


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