Copyright infringement occurs when a third party violates one or more of a copyright owner’s exclusive rights:
- To reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords.
- To prepare derivative works based upon the work.
- To distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending.
- To perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works.
- To display the copyrighted work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work.
- In the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.
Copyright infringement may also occur where a party exceeds the grant of rights that the copyright owner has given them. To prove infringement, a copyright holder must demonstrate (1) ownership of a valid copyright and (2) copying by the defendant.
Under the federal Copyright Act—the law governing copyright in the United States—courts may grant temporary and final injunctions to prevent or restrain copyright infringement. Courts may also order the impounding and disposition of infringing articles. A copyright owner is also entitled to his or her actual damages and any additional profits of the infringer, or alternatively, to statutory damages. In certain cases, a copyright owner may also be entitled to additional damages and to costs and attorneys’ fees.