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What is copyright infringement?

by | Feb 17, 2021 | Copyright |

If someone has used your copyrighted materials without your permission, there is a possibility that they may have infringed upon your copyright. In order to be protected under copyright law, your work must be ‘original’ and be ‘fixed in a tangible medium of expression.’

As the creator of the copyrighted material, you have five fundamental rights under 17 U.S. Code Sec. 106 with regards to how you use your work. You have the right to:

  • Adapt
  • Publish
  • Reproduce
  • Perform
  • Display
  • Prepare derivative works

While you have the right to do these things, others do not. Anyone who engages in these activities without permission from the copyright owner may be liable for copyright infringement. Common forms of copyright infringement may include:

  • Using another party’s copyrighted images on your personal website
  • Downloading and sharing sound clips created by another party
  • Copying a movie or TV show and uploading it to YouTube

Doctrine of fair use

Many examples of copyright infringement are legally permissible due to the doctrine of fair use. Under the fair use doctrine, there are four factors used to determine whether the infringing work constitutes as fair use. These factors are:

  • The purpose and character of the infringing use
  • Nature of the copyrighted work
  • How much of the copyrighted work was used by the infringing party
  • Whether the market value of the copyrighted piece is affected by the infringing party’s use of it

If you are the owner of a copyright, it can be upsetting to see someone else take advantage of your creativity and hard work. An intellectual property attorney in Houston can review your case and advise you on filing a copyright infringement claim to recover monetary damages.