I always tell my clients that if they’ve created something, they should copyright it because that can make you money. While it costs just a few hundred dollars to get copyright registration, it could earn you tens of thousands of dollars – cha-ching! This is possible because of statutory damages under the U.S. Copyright Law.
A photographer client sued someone for using his photographs without permission or license, and was recently awarded a ton of money as statutory damages by the court.
So what is statutory damages you may ask? Let’s first look at the meaning of damages. Damages are sums of money awarded to someone by a court as a result of a dispute between two parties. The damaged party as determined by the court, receives compensation for the damage caused. Statutory damages are damages that are prescribed by the statute (law). For example, in tax evasion cases, the tax law has specific amounts of fines that are required to be paid by those convicted of tax evasion.
Similarly, the U.S. Copyright Law awards statutory damages to copyright holders whose works have been stolen or infringed. These damages can range from $750 and go up to $30,000 for each work infringed upon. If the court finds that the infringement was willful, these damages can go up to $150,000 per instance of infringement. Willfulness means that the infringer had notice that they were infringing your work and chose to do it anyway. Of course, you need to have a copyright registration in order to pursue claims of infringement and get statutory damages.
If you’ve created something that is original, artistic or literary, you should get a copyright registration right away.
At Nupur Shah Law, we help business owners secure copyright registrations. Call us at 646-820- 1366 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am happy to have a complimentary conversation with you on how to secure and/or defend your rights.