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Copyright 101: Penalties for Copyright Infringement (USA Only)

If you or your church is found guilty of copyright infringement, what are the penalties?

  1. The copyright holder can calculate the actual amount of financial loss resulting from your infringement and sue you for that amount, and the copyright holder may add other punitive damages to the suit.
  2. Rather than calculating and proving actual damages, the copyright owner may opt for statutory damages. These statutory damages have already been set by the US government and range from $750 to $30,000 per infringement.
  3. Statutory damages may go up to $150,000 per infringement if determined to be "willful."

Copyright owners have discovered over time that it is often to their advantage to claim willful infringement for every claim and then settle for a lesser amount once the copyright offender has been frightened by the charge.

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