Damages in Copyright Lawsuits

A copyright plaintiff may recover either (a) its actual damages and Defendant’s profits; or (b) statutory damages. 17 U.S.C. § 504(a). The election of statutory damages is entirely at the copyright owner’s discretion and may be made “regardless of the adequacy of the evidence offered as to his actual damages and the amount of defendant’s profits.” 4 Nimmer on Copyright § 14.04 (2018) “Because the statutory damages rule is designed to deter wrongful conduct, courts have routinely ordered damages well in excess of, and typically around three times the amount the defendant would have paid if the defendant had properly obtained a license.” In cases of willful infringement, the damages awarded can be up to $150,000 per copyrighted work. It is not uncommon to see damages awards at or near the statutory maximum, particularly in a case, where the paper trail establishes that defendant is a multibillion-dollar company that thumbed its nose at paying licensing fees. See e.g., Kennedy v. Gish, Sherwood & Friends, Inc., 143 F. Supp. 3d 898, 915 (E.D. Mo. 2015) (awarding statutory damages for each photograph infringed by the defendant where plaintiff licensed the photographs individually); EMI Christian Music Grp., Inc. v. MP3tunes, LLC, 844 F.3d 79, 101 (2d Cir. 2016) (awarding statutory damages awards for each song the plaintiffs released as a single, even if those songs were also released on an album); Columbia Pictures Indus. v. Krypton Broad. of Birmingham, Inc., 259 F.3d 1186 (9th Cir. 2001) (awarding statutory damages for each episode of two TV series).

In addition, “the prevailing party in a copyright infringement case is presumptively entitled to recovery of its full costs and reasonable attorney’s fees” in the Seventh Circuit. While a fee award may not be “automatic,” federal courts in Chicago routinely grant attorneys’ fees to prevailing copyright owner when the facts warrant it.

Our Chicago Copyright infringement attorneys located in Chicago, Wilmette and Elmhurst have defended or prosecuted many kinds of intellectual property and copyright lawsuits, including winning a summary judgment motion based on cross-examination admission from the plaintiff for the largest Canadian mutual fund company in copyright litigation filed Chicago alleging copyright infringement of software giving rise to millions of dollars in claimed damages. You can see the full summary judgment ruling here. We have also successfully prosecuted and settled a number of copyright infringement lawsuits brought against large national and international corporations. Telephone one of our Chicago Business Litigation Lawyers for a free consultation at our toll-free number 833-306-4933 or locally at 630-333-0333. You can also contact us online.

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