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17.36 Copyright—Damages—Innocent Infringement (17 U.S.C. § 504(c)(2))

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17.36 Copyright—Damages—Innocent Infringement
(17 U.S.C. § 504(c)(2)) 

        An infringement is considered innocent when the defendant has proved both of the following elements by a preponderance of the evidence:

        First, the defendant was not aware that [his] [her] [other pronoun] acts constituted infringement of the copyright; and

        Second, the defendant had no reason to believe that [his] [her] [other pronoun] acts constituted an infringement of the copyright.


        The statutory damage minimum for innocent infringement is $200.  17 U.S.C.§504(c)(2).

        “Whether the defendants’infringement was innocent is a factual determination.”See L.A. News Serv. v. Reuters Television Int’l, Ltd.149 F. 3d 987, 995 (9th Cir. 1998). But even if the trier of fact finds that an infringement was innocent, this finding does not mandate a reduction in the statutory damages.See L.A. News Serv. v. Tullo, 973 F.2d 791, 800 (9th Cir. 1992).


Revised Dec. 2023