Your intellectual property may be just as valuable to your business as your real estate and equipment, or perhaps even more. However, many people continue to show no regard for copyright law or the impact of their behavior.
If you have concerns about the misuse of your copyrighted work, review the prevalence of copyright violations and prepare to stand up for your legal rights in the event that someone uses your material without permission.
Annual copyright violation cases
According to the United States Sentencing Commission, the fiscal year 2017 saw more than 66,000 copyright and trademark infringement cases. During this period, there were 80 cases involving criminal infringement.
Although the USSC notes that these figures represent a decline in the number of cases between 2012 and 2017, it is still a high number of copyright violation cases. Moreover, many offenders do not face charges for illegal activity.
Characteristics of copyright offenders
The USSC reports that during the fiscal year 2017, the average age of offenders was 43 years old, 81% were male and 81% were U.S. citizens. The median infringement amount with these cases was more than $266,000. Furthermore, 43% of offenders received prison sentences with an average term of 25 months.
Actions for restitution
In addition to criminal consequences, there are financial consequences for those who steal intellectual property. You have the right to hold infringers accountable for their actions. Copyright law allows you to obtain actual or statutory damages to cover the losses to your business that the infringement caused. Willful infringement may result in a more significant award.