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CRM 1500-1999

1845. Copyright Law -- Applicability Of Civil Copyright Law

The criminal law of copyright is often defined by reference to aspects of the civil law of copyright. For criminal copyright infringement to exist, for example, there must first be civil copyright infringement. See 18 U.S.C. § 506(a). Moreover, the provisions of Title 17 relating to the rights secured by copyright, notice and registration requirements, judicial construction and analysis of infringing conduct are all directly applicable to criminal cases. See this Manual at 1848 (existence of a valid copyright). Thus, some understanding of the substantive law of copyright is beneficial to the effective enforcement of the criminal copyright provisions. Prosecutors involved in these cases may wish to consult civil law treatises (such as Nimmer on Copyright), and the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section's Intellectual Property Rights Prosecution Manual. Prosecutors are also encouraged to contact the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section with questions concerning copyright law that could affect criminal investigations or prosecutions.

[cited in JM 9-71.001]