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Assume a person, who has a net worth of ₹1 billion; pirates and resells software worth ₹2 billion. A lawsuit is filed against that person and about ₹1 billion can be recovered. Is it possible to ask for an investigation in to, and compensation from, all who those received the pirated software for one more billion?

Will the lawsuit continue or end at that person, or will it continue to the recipients?

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I am not sure about the law of India, so I will give an answer for the , which may be of interest to some, and can be compared against an answer regarding India when someone is able to provide that.

Those who make or distribute (including sell) infringing copies are liable for damages under US law; those who receive or purchase infringing copies are not, as long as they do not make or distribute such copies, or otherwise violate a copyright.

Under US law, if a person makes and/or distributes copies of a protected work without permission or authority from the copyright holder, this is copyright infringement. See 17 USC 106.

17 USC 501 provides that:

Anyone who violates any of the exclusive rights of the copyright owner as provided by sections 106 through 122 or of the author as provided in section 106A(a), or who imports copies or phonorecords into the United States in violation of section 602, is an infringer of the copyright or right of the author, as the case may be.

The person or business that does such a thing may be sued, and damages awarded. 17 USC 504 provides that

The copyright owner is entitled to recover the actual damages suffered by him or her as a result of the infringement, and any profits of the infringer that are attributable to the infringement and are not taken into account in computing the actual damages. In establishing the infringer’s profits, the copyright owner is required to present proof only of the infringer’s gross revenue, and the infringer is required to prove his or her deductible expenses and the elements of profit attributable to factors other than the copyrighted work.

Statutory damages may also be awarded under this section, but that will hardly apply if provable damages are anything close to $1 billion. Costs and legal fees can be awarded as additional damages.

Under other sections of chapter 5 of 17 USC, injunctions against further infringement may be issued, and infringing copies may be seized from importers or other infringers, and destroyed or handed over to the copyright owner. So may type, dies, or other mechanisms for reproducing infringing copies.

Any business or person knowingly participating in making, distributing, or importing infringing copies is an infringer, and may be included in the suit and so in any assessment of damages. This could include subsidiaries, affiliated businesses, and wholesale and retail sellers. It could also include the officers or employees of such businesses, if they acted knowing that they were dealing in infringing copies.

In some cases, particularly large commercial cases, infringement can also be a crime under US law, punishable by fine and imprisonment.

However, nothing in 17 USC makes receiving or purchasing an infringing copy of a work infringement, or any other tort or crime. One who merely acquires an infringing copy, but does not resell it, not make additional copies, has no liability under US law for reviving the infringing copy.

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