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Is copyright infringement a white collar crime?

The short answer is yes, copyright infringement is considered a white collar crime. The term, "white-collar crime" was formed in 1939 and refers to crimes associated with a number of fraudulent activities carried out by individuals working in both private-sector businesses and government positions. The Federal Bureau of Investigation considers lying, cheating and stealing as principal elements to most white-collar crimes.

Copyright infringement occurs when an individual copies original works which were created by another person. In the United States, anytime an author or a creator completes a created work, that item is automatically considered copyrighted. These include original items involving literary works like novels, dramatic plays, musicals, audio recordings, video games, software and other similar artistic work. Copyright protection can also extend to less obvious examples of original work such as pantomimes, dance routines and architectural work.

Copyrights are protected under U.S.C. Title 17 section 501. Because copyright protection is a federal statute copyright violators are prosecuted by the U. S. Department of Justice. In larger instances of copyright infringement, such as piracy or intellectual property theft, the FBI is sometimes called on to investigate those cases.

Florida residents accused of the white-collar crime known as copyright infringement should know that a conviction of such crimes can carry heavy penalties and may require restitution to the prevailing party for their attorney's fees and other financial damages they may have suffered as a result of the intellectual theft. However, every criminal defendant has a right to a fair trial where he or she can challenge the plaintiff's case against him or her.

In some instances, the testimony of expert witnesses and other crucial evidence may be sufficient to rebut a plaintiff's claims of infringement. In other cases, the government prosecutor may be willing to negotiate a plea settlement to bring an end to litigation. A consultation with an experienced white-collar criminal defense attorney will help to identify the key strengths and weaknesses of any case.

Source: The U.S. Copyright Office, "Copyright Law of the United States of America" Sep. 09, 2014

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Is copyright infringement a white collar crime? | Frank A. Rubino, Esq.