When we think about lawsuits, we often think about money. Whenever the media covers a big lawsuit, the media often emphasizes the verdict or the amount of money awarded to a plaintiff after a jury trial. However, to many photographers, musicians and other artists, simply being awarded money after someone has stolen their artistic work seems unsatisfying. Most photographers, musicians, and artists, have an emotional attachment to their work. They want to stop the person who stole their work from ever using their work again. Fortunately, if you are one of these artists, the law can help you.
The Copyright Act of 1976 basically gives you three remedies to stop someone from using your work. The remedies are: 1) injunction; 2) impoundment; and 3) destruction.
In Copyright cases, injunction (or injunctive relief as it is often called in court) is governed by 17 U.S.C. §502(a) which states that a Court may “…grant temporary or permanent injunctions on such terms as it may deem reasonable to prevent or restrain infringement of a copyright.”
In practice this often amounts to the Court ordering an offending party to not use a copyrighted work in the future, or to cease using the work if the offending party has already infringed.
This order can apply to the offending party’s whole work or a part of the work to depending on the extent of the infringement.
Impoundment is governed by 17 U.S.C. §503(a)(1) which states the Court “…may order the impounding…of all copies or phonorecords…[that violate a copyright]…[and the] articles by means of which such copies or phonorecords may be reproduced…[and the]…records documenting the manufacture, sale, or receipt of things involved in any such violation…” The impoundment may be “at any time while an action under [the Copyright Act] is pending…”
In plain English, this means that the Copyright Act of 1976 allows for you to ensure that all infringing copies, and tools used to make such copies, as well as business records of such activities be impounded.
The impoundment usually takes place during the litigation with the ultimate fate of the infringing copies determined after litigation.
Destruction is governed by 17 U.S.C. §503(b) which states that a Court “…may order the destruction…of all copies or phonorecords…and all plates, molds, matrices, masters…or other articles by means of which such copies…may be reproduced.” However, the destruction is usually only “part of a final judgment or decree.”
In plain English, this means that the Copyright Act of 1976 allows for you to ensure that all infringing copies, and tools used to make such copies, be destroyed. However, before the Court will destroy anything on your behalf, you must usually litigate the case until the end or judgment.
Still, for someone who has had their work stolen, this will be a component to any satisfying end of a lawsuit.
These blogposts shall not be constituted as legal advice and are for informational purposes only. Each and every case is different and requires an attorney to examine the specific case in question to arrive at an adequate legal conclusion. In addition, these blogposts are not updated, or edited, after the date of their initial post, and as such, the information contained within them may be outdated. Consult with your own personal attorney for more information on the subject matters.