Civil and Criminal Penalties for Violation of Federal Copyright Laws

Anyone who is found to be liable for copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or “statutory” damages between $750 and $30,000 per work infringed.  In the case of a “willful” infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. Courts also have discretion to award costs and attorneys’ fees to the prevailing party.  (See 17 U.S.C. §§504 and 505.)  Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense.   (See 17 U.S.C. §506 and 18 U.S.C. §2319.)