Innocent Infringer Defense

Full Question: If I didn’t know that what I was doing violated the copyright law, isn’t that a good defense or could I still be found guilty of infringement?

Answer: Copyright law does not require the person committing the violation, or responsible for the violation, to be aware that their actions violate the law. Although people who knowingly and willfully violate copyright may be penalized more severely, the law does not excuse copyright infringements that were undertaken inadvertently or unknowingly. However, if an infringer can show that they were not aware and had no reason to believe that the activity constituted an infringement, the court may reduce the amount of statutory damages awarded to the copyright owner to as low as $200 per work infringed. Notably, there can be no finding of innocent infringement where the copyrighted work contains a proper copyright notice.

Last updated: 05/2022