For an overview of what Copyright law is and how it works in more simplied terms, visit the Law: A Perspective for Consumers.
"Anyone who violates any of the exclusive rights of the copyright owner as provided by sections 106 through 122 or of the author as provided in section 106A(a), or who imports copies or phonorecords into the United States in violation of section 602, is an infringer of the copyright or right of the author, as the case may be."
(1) to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords;
(2) to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;
(3) to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
(4) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicly;
(5) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to display the copyrighted work publicly; and
(6) in the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.
Proof of infringement of one of these rights may allow copyright owners to recieve injunctions, impoundment, actual damages and damages of future profits.
Companies that provide the places for the counterfeiting to take place and allow the counterfeiters to sell their products may also be liable under secondary liability.
For example in Walt Disney Co. v. Video 47, Inc., a video rental store was found to have infringed plaintiff’s copyrights in videocassettes by renting counterfeit tapes without the copyright owner’s authorization to do so. The defendant’s action was a violation of plaintiff’s § 106(1) and (3) rights, listed above.
If successful, a plaintiff may recieve various remedies including injunction, impounding, damages and fees in a suit for secondary liability. See 17 U.S.C. § 502 - 505.
One may be criminally liable for their infringement of copyrights under several statutes.
One who infringes a copyright for purposes of commercial gain during any 180-day period of 1 or more copies or phonorecords of 1 or more copyrighted works, which have a total retail value of more than $ 1,000 and place it online available for the public shall be punished under 18 U.S.C. § 2319.
Punishment can range anywhere from 1 to 10 years depending on the circumstances surrounding the offense.
In U.S. v. Armstead, defendant was found to have violated 17 U.S.C. § 506(a)(1) after having sold 100 movies in DVD format for $ 500 to an undercover agent of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. All of the DVDs were copies of copyrighted movies made using a camcorder to record the films as they played in movie theatres. Although he sold the dvds for a total value not exceeding $1000 as required by § 506, the actual retail value (greater than $25) would make the total far exceed the $1,000. As a result, he was convicted under section § 506. Click here for the full opinion.
For other general criminal sanctions that a counterfeiter may face see here.
17 U.S.C. § 106 (2006), available at http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/106.html.
17 U.S.C. § 501 (2006), available at http://law.cornell.edu/uscode/uscode17/usc_sec_17_00000501----000-.html.
17 U.S.C. § 512 (2006), available at http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/512.html.
18 U.S.C. § 2319 (2006), available at http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/uscode/18/I/113/2319.
U.S. v. Armstead, 524 F.3d 442 (4th Cir. 2008), available at http://pacer.ca4.uscourts.gov/opinion.pdf/055157.P.pdf.
Walt Disney Co. v. Video 47, Inc., 972 F. Supp. 595, 40 U.S.P.Q.2d 1747 (S.D. Fla. 1996).