Copyright violations lead to lawsuits. There will be a winner and a loser in every lawsuit.

The plaintiff in a copyright infringement lawsuit is a person alleging that he or she had a copyright in a creative work and someone else reproduced that creative work without permission.

The defendant in a copyright infringement lawsuit is the person the plaintiff alleged reproduced the plaintiff’s creative work without permission. A defendant may use any number of defenses, which may or may not be successful.

When a defense is unsuccessful and a plaintiff wins a copyright infringement claim in a lawsuit, the plaintiff is entitled to damages.

Damage Awards

Damages are intended to compensate an injured plaintiff for the harm caused by the defendant. In a copyright infringement lawsuit, damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for any harm caused by the defendant’s reproduction of the plaintiff’s copyrighted creative work. There are several different means of calculating damages in Minnesota. Each looks toward the harm incurred by the plaintiff or the intentions of the defendant, but each is calculated in a different way.

Financial Loss

Damages may be equal to the amount of financial loss the plaintiff suffered due to the defendant’s copyright infringement.

Defendant’s Profits

Damages may be equal to the amount of profit the defendant made from infringing on the plaintiff’s copyright.

License Fee

An alternative result could be that the defendant is ordered to give the plaintiff an amount equal to that which the defendant would have had to pay to the plaintiff to obtain a license to reproduce the copyrighted work in order not to infringe on the plaintiff’s copyright.

Statutory Ranges

Another option for courts in awarding damages looks to Minnesota statutes. Minnesota statutes provide for damages to be given to a successful plaintiff by the defendant in a copyright infringement lawsuit.

Statutory damages have less of an eye toward the harm caused and more of an eye toward the intentions of the infringer. Minnesota statutes prescribe different ranges of damages that may be chosen based upon whether the defendant intended to infringe on the plaintiff’s copyright. Either way, the defendant will be ordered to pay damages to the plaintiff, but the range of damages a court may order differ depending on whether the defendant innocently or willfully infringed on the plaintiff’s copyright.

An amount within the applicable range will be chosen and the defendant will be ordered to pay that amount to the plaintiff. Some factors considered in determining the amount within a range may include:

  • revenues lost by the plaintiff as a result of the defendant’s infringement,
  • expenses saved or profits made by the defendant by infringing,
  • the benefits to the defendant of infringing,
  • the value or nature of the plaintiff’s copyright,
  • the duration and scope of the defendant’s infringement,
  • deterrence of the defendant and others,
  • the defendant’s financial situation,
  • the number of works the defendant infringed upon and the number of awards the plaintiff is receiving, and
  • if the defendant’s infringement was willful, whether to punish the defendant.