Copyright Damages – Domain Name Registration Information Affects the Willful Infringement Evaluation


Relating to claims of cybersquatting, it is comparatively understood that providing false Whois contact information is relevant to the bad faith determination under the Anti-cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA). Nevertheless, it could be less well-known that providing false contact information can also be relevant to a copyright infringement lawsuit. Particularly, under the Copyright Act, namely 17 U.S.C. § 504(c)(3)(A), “it shall be a rebuttable presumption that the infringement was committed willfully for purposes of determining relief if the violator, or an individual acting in concert with the violator, knowingly provided or knowingly caused to be provided materially false contact information to a website name registrar, domain name registry, or other domain name registration authority in registering, maintaining, or renewing a website name utilized in reference to the infringement.”

Put one other way, this provision makes clear that an alleged infringer that’s infringing the copyright of one other through technique of an internet site could also be subject to statutory damages for willful infringement if the Whois information for the domain name pertaining to that website is inaccurate. This is incredibly necessary and should provide additional leverage against an alleged infringer, especially since willful infringement subjects a copyright infringer to $150,000.00 in monetary damages. It is necessary to acknowledge that the prerequisites for a copyright infringement lawsuit, and the flexibility to recuperate statutory damages, still apply. Namely, a copyright have to be registered with the US Copyright Office prior to the infringement or inside three months of publication, and the infringement have to be willful. This particular provision, assuming that the copyright was properly registered in a timely fashion, creates a rebuttable presumption that the infringement is willful.

Thus, it will be significant that any online copyright infringement include an evaluation of the domain name Whois information. Conversely, copyright attorneys should advise their clients that, once more, maintaining accurate and up-to-date contact information is incredibly necessary for multiple causes of motion, including copyright infringement. Ultimately, understanding that provisions like this exist are critical for any web lawyer who usually deals with online copyright infringement and related issues. Understanding that an identical provision doesn’t yet exist for trademark infringement claims can also be helpful and value lobbying or argument on the identical.


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