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Can you be put in jail for copyright infringement?

Internet crimes come in many forms, and violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act can get you into trouble with the law, even though you're not what you think of when you think of a criminal. Many people have been caught off-guard by being arrested for pirating software, music or videos off the Internet, and if you're accused of copyright infringement, you need to work quickly to build a defense.

What are the legal penalties for copyright infringement?

The legal penalties for copyright infringement can be varied, and they are highly relevant to the amount of items you stole and what you used them for. For instance, you might be able to pay the actual dollar amount for the stolen material if you just downloaded and watched a movie, but if you downloaded and sold it, you're going to be in a position where the company wants more from you. You could be fined anywhere from $200 to $150,000 for each instance of copyright infringement. That means if you downloaded five movies off the Internet, you could be looking at $750,000 in fines, maximum. You can also be forced to pay all the attorney fees and court costs.

Is jail time possible if you're arrested and convicted of copyright infringement?

Jail time is a possible penalty, but it generally is reserved for cases where someone can't or is unwilling to pay or has been involved in a particularly heavy case of infringement. If the person has illegal copies of the original work, those copies can also be taken and impounded. Although it's rare, if you are accused of this crime, your attorney will work with you to help prevent imprisonment from being part of your penalty.

Source: Purdue University, "Copyright Infringement Penalties," accessed July 29, 2016

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Law Offices of Frank Jackson
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Toll Free: 866-542-2346
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