Criminal Copyright Infringement— 17 U.S.C. § 506 and 18 U.S.C. § 2319 (continuation)

Relevance of Civil Cases to Criminal Prosecutions  In applying the criminal copyright statutes, civil precedents are often helpful. The vast majority of copyright case law is civil, rather than criminal, and often civil cases provide the only judicial authority available in criminal prosecutions. See United States v. Wise, 550 F.2d 1180, 1189 n.14 (9th Cir. 1977) (noting "general principle in copyright law of looking to civil authority for guidance in criminal cases"); United States v. Manzer, 69 F.3d 222, 227 (8th Cir. 1995) (same); United States v. Cross, 816 F.2d 297, 303 (7th Cir. 1987) (same, with respect to jury instructions); Kelly v. L.L. Cool J., 145 F.R.D. 32, 39 (S.D.N.Y. 1992) (noting that conduct that does not support a civil action for infringement cannot constitute criminal infringement); 4 Nimmer on Copyright § 15.01. But what makes a good civil case does not necessarily make a good criminal case. Civil and criminal copyright law sometimes differ sharply. For example, a defendant can be civilly liable for copyright infringement as a matter of strict liability, with no intent to copy. See Bright Tunes Music Corp. v. Harrisongs Music, Ltd., 420 F.Supp. 177 (S.D.N.Y. 1976) (finding infringement where composer "subconsciously" copied earlier song). By contrast, a criminal copyright defendant can be convicted only if he infringed willfully.  To be continued.  Source: web-site of U.S. Department of Justice. Prosecuting Intellectual Property Crimes, Third Edition. September 2006: