Definition of copyright infringement
copyright infringement (plural copyright infringements)
- (copyright law) The unauthorized use of copyrighted material in a manner that violates one of the copyright owner's exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works that build upon it.
Copyright infringement (or copyright violation) is the unauthorized or prohibited use of works covered by copyright law, in a way that violates one of the copyright owner's exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works.
For electronic and audio-visual media, unauthorized reproduction and distribution is also commonly referred to as piracy (an early reference was made by Daniel Defoe in 1703 when he said of his novel True-born Englishman : "Its being Printed again and again, by Pyrates"). The practice of labeling the act of infringement as "piracy" actually predates copyright itself. Even prior to the 1709 enactment of the Statute of Anne, generally recognized as the first copyright law, the Stationers' Company of London in 1557 received a Royal Charter giving the company a monopoly on publication and tasking it with enforcing the charter. Those who violated the charter were labeled pirates as early as 1603.
The legal basis for this usage dates from the same era, and has been consistently applied until the present time. Critics of the use of the term "piracy" to describe such practices contend that it is pejorative and unfairly equates copyright infringement with more sinister activity, though courts often hold that under law the two terms are interchangeable.
Copyright infringement is the unauthorized or prohibited use of works under copyright, infringing the copyright holder's exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works.
The practice of labelling the infringement of exclusive rights in creative works as "piracy" predates statutory copyright law. Prior to the Statute of Anne 1709, the Stationers' Company of London in 1557 received a Royal Charter giving the company a monopoly on publication and tasking it with enforcing the charter. Those who violated the charter were labelled pirates as early as 1603. After the establishment of copyright law with the 1709 Statute of Anne in Britain, the term "piracy" has been used to refer to the unauthorized manufacturing and selling of works in copyright. Article 12 of the 1886 Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works uses the term "piracy" in relation to copyright infringement, stating "Pirated works may be seized on importation into those countries of the Union where the original work enjoys legal protection." Article 61 of the 1994 Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) requires criminal procedures and penalties in cases of "wilful trademark counterfeiting or copyright piracy on a commercial scale". Piracy traditionally refers to acts intentionally committed for financial gain, though more recently, copyright holders have described online copyright infringement, particularly in relation to peer-to-peer file sharing networks, as "piracy."
An unskippable anti-piracy film included on movie DVDs equates copyright infringement with theft.
Copyright holders frequently refer to copyright infringement as "theft". In law copyright infringement does not refer to actual theft, but an instance where a person exercises one of the exclusive rights of the copyright holder without authorization. Courts have distinguished between copyright infringement and theft, holding, for instance, in the United States Supreme Court case Dowling v. United States (1985) that bootleg phonorecords did not constitute stolen property and that "...interference with copyright does not easily equate with theft, conversion, or fraud. The Copyright Act even employs a separate term of art to define one who misappropriates a copyright... 'an infringer of the copyright.'" In the case of copyright infringement the province guaranteed to the copyright holder by copyright law is invaded, i.e. exclusive rights, but no control, physical or otherwise, is taken over the copyright, nor is the copyright holder wholly deprived of using the copyrighted work or exercising the exclusive rights held.
The enforcement of copyright is the responsibility of the copyright holder. Article 50 of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) requires that signatory countries enable courts to remedy copyright infringement with injunctions and the destruction of infringing products, and award damages. More recently copyright holders have demanded that states act to defend copyright holders' rights and enforce copyright law through active policing of copyright infringement. It has been demanded that states provide criminal sanctions for all types of copyright infringement and pursue copyright infringement through administrative procedures, rather than the judicial due process required by TRIPs.
Article 61 of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) requires that signatory countries establish criminal procedures and penalties in cases of "willful trademark counterfeiting or copyright piracy on a commercial scale". Copyright holders have demanded that states provide criminal sanctions for all types of copyright infringement.
Source: Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.