[Coco] copyright infringement

John R. Hogerhuis jhoger at pobox.com
Fri Jul 8 13:21:56 EDT 2005

Most likely in a case like this there is no significant harm suffered by
the magazine copyright holders. So they won't sue for harm inflicted on

They would sue for statutory damages.

That means between $750 to $30,000 per infringement.

Now with willful infringement the judge will award treble damages, which
means three times whatever would have been awarded otherwise. Plus
attorney's fees ($200+ per hour) So it adds up real quick to millions of

But I ain't got no cash or other assets! I'm judgment proof! Well you
could still face criminal prosecution for criminal copyright
infringement by the State.

Certainly copying whole magazines and distributing them is copyright

Of course we're leaving out the fact that there are exceptions to
copyright called "fair use," That allows limited copying for purposes of
criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research,
and the related four factors test:

     1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use
        is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational
     2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
     3. amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the
        copyrighted work as a whole; and 
     4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of
        the copyrighted work.

Further, works that lack originality are not protected by copyright. An
index with no editorial content, just a recitation without any
creativity of the titles, issues/page numbers, authors, etc. of magazine
articles is not covered by copyright. See the Feist decision noted here

Because of this legal mess, I recommend pushing any new legislation
allowing the expiration of copyright protection or safe harbor for
infringers for "orphaned works" or "abandonware" with your congressman
or the Librarian of Congress every opportunity you get.

-- John.

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