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Worth the money?

Worth the money?

Posted Jun 2, 2005 21:12 UTC (Thu) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954)
Parent article: IP Software Compliance Tools -- Who Needs Them and Why?

I wonder how much copyright you could infringe for the $50K cost of this assurance?

People act like accidentally infringing copyright will bring down your company. With GPL, some say it forces you to give away all your own source code. But all it does is make you pay the copyright owner the value of the stolen code. Where the copyright owner isn't selling the code for money, the most value the law would assign it is probably what it would cost someone to recreate it.


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Worth the money?

Posted Jun 3, 2005 2:23 UTC (Fri) by brouhaha (subscriber, #1698) [Link]

I wonder how much copyright you could infringe for the $50K cost of this assurance?
Possibly as little as one or two copies of a single work.

Statutory damages are between $750 and $30K per count, unless the act of infringement is found to have been willful, in which case it can be up to $150K per count. Suppose you sold twenty thousand copies of a program then got sued for infringement. Assuming that it wasn't found to have been willful infringment, you could potentially be liable for $600M. As I understand it, statutory damage awards are more commonly in the $2500 per count range, but it's at the discretion of the court.

Worth the money?

Posted Jun 3, 2005 3:43 UTC (Fri) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954) [Link]

Thanks. I was unaware there were statutory damages for copyright in US law. And these are particularly weird statutory damages, since the amount within that range is up to the discretion of the court. Statutory damages I know of are specifically designed to remove the discretion of the court -- the statute tells you exactly what the formula is. The idea is to save litigation expense and substitute the judgment of legislators for that of judges.

Anyway, there's one flaw in your arithmetic. There are no "counts" of infringement, since we're not talking about crimes here. The statutory damage clause says the $30K limit is for each work, not each copy. Where you see it multiply into the millions is where you have something like Napster that involves thousands of works.

Worth the money?

Posted Jun 3, 2005 4:35 UTC (Fri) by brouhaha (subscriber, #1698) [Link]

In the US, copyright infringement actually can be a criminal offense. This came about as part of the No Electronic Theft Act of 1997. The criminal charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250K fine, or twice the gross gain to any defendant or twice the gross loss to any victim, whichever is greater. On top of that, there is mandatory restitution.

However, the hypothetical case was presumably not a criminal case.


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