Criminal Copyright Infringement : A Comparative Study in India and the US


The use or production of protected materials without the copyright holder’s permission is copyright infringement. Copyright infringement occurs when the rights granted to the copyright holder are being violated by a third party. Many forms of media, such as movies and music, suffer from copyright infringement. If a case of infringement is filed, the amount of money that the copyright holder might have to set aside for legal fees can be significant.

Copyright Infringement USA

[Image Source : Shutterstock]

New works are often created by companies and individuals who are hoping to make a profit from their efforts. They do so by registering for copyright protection and allowing other parties to use or purchase their works. However, there are many factors that can lead to copyright infringement. One of these is the high price that the authorized work fetches.

According to the WIPO, copyright is a legal term that refers to the rights that creators and authors have when it comes to their works. Works can range from paintings and sculptures to computer programs and maps.

Copyright infringement under the Indian Copyrights act, 1957.

Under copyright laws, the rights granted to the holder include the right to make derivative works, display, reproduce, and distribute the protected work. The unauthorized use of such works, without the permission granted by the copyright owner, is copyright infringement. If a copy of a work is labeled as the work of a particular author or publisher, it is presumed that the author or the publisher is the one who wrote it.

Remedies available

If a copyright owner is not happy with the actions of an individual or entity that infringes their rights, they can file a civil case against them. This type of case can be filed in a court that has jurisdiction over the issue. The court can also provide the copyright owner with various types of remedies such as damages and accounts.

If a copyright owner is not happy with the actions of an individual or entity that infringes their rights, they can file a civil case against them. This type of case can be filed against a company or an artificial joint venture. The person who was in charge at the time of the infringement was also liable for the company’s actions.

The goal of copyright is to provide adequate safeguards to protect the rights of authors to their creations. It also aims to encourage creativity and prevent unauthorized uses of their works. The Act protects the works of dramatic, musical, and literary artists from being exploited for commercial purposes. The term “literary,” “dramatic,” and “media” copyright period is 60 years following the death of the author.

If a person knowingly violates the copyright in a work, then that person’s actions are considered a criminal offense. For instance, if a person is convicted of copyright infringement, they can expect to get a sentence of up to six months in prison and a fine of up to Rs. 50,000/-. For repeat offenders, the minimum sentence is one year in prison and a fine of Rs.1 lakh/-.

Copyright in joint authorship refers to the death of the author. It provides a broadcasting right to every broadcaster for 25 years from the start of the year following the broadcast’s completion. The Act provides that the government can establish a copyright board to resolve disputes and grant licenses. Punishment for infringement is also available for up to three years.

In a case involving Knit Pro International v. the State of NCT[1] the Supreme Court ruled that copyright infringement is a non-bailable offense that can be punished with a sentence of up to seven years in prison. This means that the accused will no longer be able to post a bail bond. The court also said that the courts will now have the power to determine the appropriate punishment for this crime.

In a case involving Krishika Lulla and Ors. Vs. Shyam Devkatta & Another[2], the court ruled that copyright infringement can be brought against those who copy and reproduce a plotline or title from a film. The plaintiff in the case, who was also the screenwriter of the story titled “Desi Boys,” had registered the synopsis of the film with the Film Writers Association. After seeing the synopsis of the film, he forwarded it to his acquaintances. However, since he was not able to bring a case against the producers or the distributors of the film due to copyright law, he filed a complaint against them. He was also granted an exemption from filing a case under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and Section 63 of the Act. The issue that the court addressed was whether the title of a book or a film, on its own, is considered a copyright work that can be infringed. The court ruled that a film’s title does not have to be a “work” in order to be eligible for copyright infringement.

Criminal copyright infringement in the US

In most cases, copyright infringement can be brought against the individual in a civil court, while in some cases, the person is prosecuted for the same offense. However, the three-year limitation on filing a civil case ends after the filing of a criminal case has already occurred.

If the prosecutor can prove that the defendant committed copyright infringement, he or she will have to show that they were aware that the work they were distributing was for commercial purposes. They will also have to show that they intentionally made the work available on a computer network so that others could access it.

When it comes to deciding what conduct is enough to be considered willfulness, courts usually look into a defendant’s actions after they have been given legal notice that their conduct was illegal or after they have received a cease and desist letter from a film studio. For instance, if you repeatedly take photos and record content before a movie’s release, then disregarding the cease and desist letters sent by a studio is likely to be regarded as willful.[3]


If you received a cease and desist notice warning you about your illegal activities, you might be wondering how the government decides on criminal charges related to copyright infringement. The policy of the federal government is that all cases that are considered to be meritorious should be prosecuted. Federal prosecutors have two main factors that they consider when it comes to deciding on whether or not to prosecute copyright infringement cases.

One of the most important factors that they consider is the number of copies that are involved in the offense. They also consider the legal issues surrounding the issue and whether or not they can successfully argue the case against the accused.

Copyright infringement can be punished by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. A first-time offender who distributes at least 10 phonorecords or copies of unauthorized works within a 180-day period could also be fined up to $250,000. If you have been convicted of copyright infringement once, you can expect to receive a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, as well as a fine of up to $250,000. For repeat offenders, those found guilty of a misdemeanor can be imprisoned for up to a year, and they can also be fined up to $100,000. Those found guilty of trafficking in technology or circumventing access controls to get around copyright restrictions could be fined up to $500,000. For subsequent offenses, they can be fined up to a million dollars.[4]


The Supreme Court has stated that unless the law is changed to provide a clear distinction between the various types of copyright infringement, then it will not be able to effectively investigate and prosecute cases. This ruling has been regarded as a threat to free speech and civil liberties. The provisions of the Act, which include the criminal sanctions and the criminal liability, are a step in the right direction. The goal of these laws is to punish those who commit copyright infringement in a way that is both effective and fair. In addition to these, the legislation also provides for the seizure of illegally copied copies and the delivery of these to the rightful owners. The provisions of the Act are also aimed at preventing copyright infringement. They provide for the punishment of those who commit this crime, as well as the seizure of illegally copied copies.

Author: P Rama Kalyan, SLS Nagpur, 4th Year, in case of any queries please contact/write back to us via email to or at IIPRD. 

[1] Knit Pro International v. State (NCT of Delhi), (2022) 10 SCC 221

[2] MANU/SC/1174/2015


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

one + fourteen =


  • January 2023
  • December 2022
  • November 2022
  • October 2022
  • September 2022
  • August 2022
  • July 2022
  • June 2022
  • May 2022
  • April 2022
  • March 2022
  • February 2022
  • January 2022
  • December 2021
  • November 2021
  • October 2021
  • September 2021
  • August 2021
  • July 2021
  • June 2021
  • May 2021
  • April 2021
  • March 2021
  • February 2021
  • January 2021
  • December 2020
  • November 2020
  • October 2020
  • September 2020
  • August 2020
  • July 2020
  • June 2020
  • May 2020
  • April 2020
  • March 2020
  • February 2020
  • January 2020
  • December 2019
  • November 2019
  • October 2019
  • September 2019
  • August 2019
  • July 2019
  • June 2019
  • May 2019
  • April 2019
  • March 2019
  • February 2019
  • January 2019
  • December 2018
  • November 2018
  • October 2018
  • September 2018
  • August 2018
  • July 2018
  • June 2018
  • May 2018
  • April 2018
  • March 2018
  • February 2018
  • January 2018
  • December 2017
  • November 2017
  • October 2017
  • September 2017
  • August 2017
  • July 2017
  • June 2017
  • May 2017
  • April 2017
  • March 2017
  • February 2017
  • January 2017
  • December 2016
  • November 2016
  • October 2016
  • September 2016
  • August 2016
  • July 2016
  • June 2016
  • May 2016
  • April 2016
  • March 2016
  • February 2016
  • January 2016
  • December 2015
  • November 2015
  • October 2015
  • September 2015
  • August 2015
  • July 2015
  • June 2015
  • May 2015
  • April 2015
  • March 2015
  • February 2015
  • January 2015
  • December 2014
  • November 2014
  • October 2014
  • September 2014
  • August 2014
  • July 2014
  • June 2014
  • May 2014
  • April 2014
  • March 2014
  • February 2014
  • January 2014
  • December 2013
  • November 2013
  • October 2013
  • September 2013
  • August 2013
  • July 2013
  • June 2013
  • May 2013
  • April 2013
  • March 2013
  • February 2013
  • January 2013
  • December 2012
  • November 2012
  • September 2012
  • August 2012
  • July 2012
  • June 2012
  • May 2012
  • April 2012
  • March 2012
  • February 2012
  • January 2012
  • December 2011
  • November 2011
  • October 2011
  • September 2011
  • August 2011
  • July 2011
  • June 2011
  • May 2011
  • April 2011
  • March 2011
  • February 2011
  • January 2011
  • December 2010
  • September 2010
  • July 2010
  • June 2010
  • May 2010
  • April 2010