Infringement of copyright
Infringement occurs when one has not obtained consent from the copyright owner to do something that only the copyright owner has the exclusive right to do. For example, a person infringes copyright if he photocopies an article without the consent of the copyright owner.
It is important to note that one does not need to have reproduced the entire copyright work before infringement takes place. It is an infringement as long as a substantial amount of the original work, quality wise, has been copied.
In an infringement dispute, a substantial amount is not measured merely in terms of the quantity that has been copied. The Court also takes into account the nature of the portion that has been copied or reproduced. If the portion copied constitutes the primary part or essence of the copyright work, the Court may construe that a substantial amount has been copied.
Infringement also occurs when one deals commercially with infringing copies, e.g., if a person:
The copyright owner may take legal action against a person who infringes his copyright.
Please refer to Exceptions to Copyright Infringement.
Remedies available to copyright owners
Remedies are the measures of relief that the Court can grant to a person whose rights are infringed. In civil lawsuits, remedies for copyright owners include injunctions (to stop someone from doing something), damages (whether actual damages, as proved, or statutory damages), and account of profits. Where it is proper to do so, considering the flagrancy of the infringement, the Court may also order additional damages to be paid by the infringing party to the copyright owner.
An award of statutory damages is a remedy (instead of damages) that the Court may order against the infringing party without the need for the copyright owner to prove the loss he has suffered as a result of the infringement. This is subject to a per-work ceiling of $10,000 and to an aggregate ceiling of $200,000 for a particular action.
Factors in determining statutory damages
In determining the amount of statutory damages, the Court is to consider these factors:
In Singapore, criminal offences under copyright law include the following:
In any of the instances above, it must be proved that the infringing party knows or ought reasonably to know that the copies are infringing copies.
The law provides that where a person is found to have five or more infringing copies of any work, unless otherwise proven, it is presumed that the possession of the infringing copies was not for the purpose of private or domestic use; or that such possession was for the purpose of sale.
The penalties for manufacture for sale; sale of infringing copies; and possession or importation of infringing copies for the purposes described above are:
The penalties for distribution of infringing copies for trade or for other purposes to such an extent as to affect the copyright owner prejudicially are:
The making or possession of an article specifically designed for making infringing copies, e.g. machinery for manufacturing infringing copies, is also an offence attracting the following penalties:
Criminal liability for wilful infringement
It is also a criminal offence if a person wilfully infringes copyright for the purpose of obtaining a commercial advantage and/or to an extent that is significant.
Commercial advantage means any direct advantage, benefit or financial gain for a business or trade. As to whether the infringement is to an extent that is significant, this is judged based on the volume and value of infringing copies, whether the infringement has a substantial prejudicial impact on the copyright owner and all other relevant matters.
The penalties for such wilful copyright infringement are:
Other acts that have civil and criminal liabilities include: