Example of Copyright Infringement

Example of Copyright Infringement

Copyright infringement is a common sight, especially in this online world where copying someone else’s work is easy. Therefore, it’s essential to protect your work from copyright infringement. Let’s look at an example of copyright infringement, along with some actionable tips to avoid it.

What Is Copyright Infringement?

Copyright infringement refers to the act of using someone’s copyrighted material and showing it as your own without the owner’s permission. In the simplest language, copyright infringement is associated with stealing, making it a civil offense.

Let’s understand this concept with an example of copyright infringement.

Suppose a musician releases a music video on YouTube. The video is copyright material of the musician, and they monetize it to make money from it. You use the same video and share it as your own property without asking for the musician’s permission. This is, in a nutshell, an example of copyright infringement. If you do that, the musician will be well within their rights to take the matter to civil court.

Example of Copyright Infringement: Top 5 Cases

To help you better understand the concept of copyright infringement, let’s look at five real-world examples. These cases have happened for real, and the chances are that you have heard of them at least once in your life.

Let’s look at five famous cases of copyright infringement.

Example of Copyright Infringement: The Associated Press vs. Fairey

Example of Copyright Infringement
Example of Copyright Infringement

During the 2008 presidential election, street artist Shepherd Fairey used a picture of Barack Obama to create the Hope posted, which later became the face of the campaign. A year later, Associated Press revealed that the image was taken by an AP freelancer and demanded Fairey to compensate for its use. In response, Fairey said that his use of the picture hadn’t reduced its original value.

Example of Copyright Infringement: Modern Dog Design vs. Target Corporation

Modern Dog, a Seattle-based design firm, created an artwork having a series of sketches of dog faces. The firm filed a lawsuit against Target/Disney, alleging that the company used their design on their t-shirt. The case is still going on, and there has been no verdict yet.

However, the case holds significant importance. Modern Dog Design is a small firm and is struggling to financially support its claim. This raises the question of what small firms can do if a larger organization with more resources utilizes their work for a profit.

Example of Copyright Infringement: Cariou vs. Prince

If you follow the art industry, you must’ve heard of Richard Prince, an appropriation artist who modifies other people’s art and gives it a new meaning. He organized an exhibition in Gagosian Gallery where he displayed 41 images of a photographer named Patrick Cariou.

Richard claimed that he had transformed the art to create a new meaning out of it, whereas Patrick accused Prince of copyright infringement.

Example of Copyright Infringement: Vanilla Ice vs. David Bowie/Freddie Mercury

This is a hilarious one. If you belong to the GenX, you might’ve been a fan of Vanilla Ice. In 1991, they released a hit song, Ice Ice Baby. The music included a snippet from the song Under Pressure by David Bowie and Queen; however, Vanilla Ice didn’t credit them.

David moved to the court, and Vanilla Ice later confessed to sampling David’s work, stating it was a joke. The case has been settled now. David paid an undeclared amount of money to David and Freddie, along with crediting them in the song.

Example of Copyright Infringement: Rogers vs. Koons

Let’s end this list with the copyright infringement case when the famous photographer Art Rogers sued a renowned artist Jeff Koons for creating an exhibit using his photograph. Rogers clicked a photograph of a couple holding eight German Shepherd puppies in their hands. Later, Jeff Koons built exhibit statues based on that image and various copies.

When Roger found this, he sued Jeff for copyright infringement. Jeff claimed that what he did was “fair use by parody.” The case received a lot of media attraction and became one of the top copyright infringement cases in the art industry.

Is Copyright Infringement a Crime?

Yes, using someone else’s copyrighted property for profit is a civil matter, and the copyright owner can take the issue to the federal court. The punishment for copyright infringement varies from country to country. In the US, the penalty for copyright infringement is $200-$150,000 for each piece of infringed work. In the UK, the maximum penalty is an unlimited fine or up to ten years’ imprisonment.

How to Protect Your Work from Copyright Infringement?

Copyright infringement is on the rise, especially in this online era when copying someone’s work is as easy as taking a screenshot. How can you protect your original work? Here are a few tips to follow.

Example of Copyright Infringement
Example of Copyright Infringement

Mark Your Work Properly

Sometimes, people copy work unintentionally because they don’t see a mark on it. A mark suggests that this work is owned and protected under law. Though original work is subject to copyright infringement by default, you can show a copyright notice to prevent any such instances.

Register Your Work

Sometimes, you may create original work, and someone else may sue you for copyright infringement. Therefore, it’s essential to register your work as soon as you make it. Copyright registration services provide verifiable proof of when the work was registered. If the matter goes to court, the authorities can easily find whose work was registered first.

Create Agreement if Working with Partners

Co-ownership is on the rise in this start-up-driven world. People come with ideas, find a co-founder, and launch a company. The problem arises when one of the co-founders decides to leave. Therefore, it’s essential to create an agreement between co-founders in the business plan that clearly state which person owns what rights. This way, you can avoid problems in the future when a company splits, or a co-founder decides to part ways.


The examples of copyright infringement discussed above give a clear insight into how stealing other people’s work happens. If you are creating original work, be sure to take the steps needed to protect your work from copyright infringement.

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