What are the penalties for copyright infringement?

When PIXSY identifies unlicensed photo use, we see it as an opportunity to build customer relationships and educate users about proper licensing practices. Legal action isn’t fun for anyone involved, and our goal at PIXSY is to avoid it if possible.

However, photographers always have the option to pursue legal action and unfortunately, it is sometimes necessary. Penalties for copyright infringement vary but keep in mind that the costs of resolving a copyright infringement dispute extend far beyond the damages awarded. Lost time, attorneys’ fees, court expenses, travel costs, expert fees, and other expenses are often more expensive than the photo itself.

Below is an overview of copyright infringement penalties by country. Note that this table is not a substitute for legal advice.

Copyright Infringement Penalties in the US

Statutory damages for a work registered with the US Copyright Office range from $750 – $30,000 plus attorney’s fees, but in especially egregious cases of willful infringement, courts may award up to $150,000. Photographers also have the option of recovering lost profits.

Removal or falsification of copyright management information (CMI) may give rise to additional statutory damages of $2,500 to $25,000 under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Examples of removing copyright management information include removing watermarks in Photoshop, republishing a work without the author name, removing information about license terms, or placing your company’s watermark on another photographer’s work.

Copyright Infringement Penalties in Canada

For commercial copyright infringement in Canada, statutory damages range from $500 to $20,000 per unauthorised use. Artists may also accept profits earned as a result of the infringement instead.

Copyright Infringement Penalties in the UK

In the UK, copyright holders are entitled to receive their lost license fees or the infringer’s profits from the use of the work. The courts may also award additional damages for flagrant acts of copyright infringement. In general, the prevailing party must also pay the other party’s costs.