In the event someone infringes (violates) the exclusive rights of a copyright owner, the owner is entitled to file a lawsuit in federal court asking the court to:
issue orders (restraining orders and injunctions) to prevent further violations
award money damages if appropriate, and
in some circumstances, award attorney fees.
Whether the lawsuit will be effective and whether damages will be awarded depends on whether the alleged infringer can raise one or more legal defenses to the charge. Common legal defenses to copyright infringement are:
too much time has elapsed between the infringing act and the lawsuit (the statute of limitations defense)
the infringement is allowed under the fair use defense
the infringement was innocent (the infringer had no reason to know the work was protected by copyright)
the infringing work was independently created (that is, it wasn’t copied from the original), or
the copyright owner authorized the use in a license.
Related terms: actual damages for copyright infringement; authorized use of copyrighted material; copyright infringement, defined; credit line; criminal copyright infringement; damages for copyright infringement; defenses to copyright infringement; expedited registration; importing of infringing works; independent creation, defense to infringement action; infringement action, explained; injunctions, copyright infringement; photocopies and copyright law; piracy, defined; plagiarism, defined; profits as damages; statute of limitations; temporary restraining order (TRO).