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Let's say,

The plaintiff, lives in the UK and published a literary work (e.g. A Book)

The defendant, a corporation headquartered in the US, wilfully infringing plaintiff's copyright worldwide.

Criminal copyright infringement involves 4 elements.

  1. that a valid copyright;
  2. was infringed by the defendant;
  3. willfully; and
  4. for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain

According to this answer, only prosecutors can settle criminal claims.

The Berne Convention, which deals with Copyright laws, has 179 contracting parties. So it raises a few questions in a multinational dispute like this.

  1. Which country prosecutors have jurisdiction to settle criminal claim like this? UK, US or Both?
  2. Since each country has jurisdiction on the infringement happen within their country, does the mean the criminal case to be settled in each 179 countries? If that is the case, then don't you think this increases the paperwork?
  3. Can matters like this only be settled from only one country (plaintiff or defendant)?
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    The answer to 2&3. might found here
    – Trish
    Aug 20, 2022 at 17:21

1 Answer 1

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You forgot an element of criminal copyright infringement, a minimum amount of copying. I believe the US statute specifies at least $1,000 worth of copied works within a 6-month period, but by policy the DOJ does not prosecute unless the matter is much bigger than that.

A matter of terminology: criminal charges are not "settled". They are prosecuted, leading either to a trial or a plea-bargain. If not prosecuted, charges are dropped.

Any country where infringing products are produced or distributed may choose to prosecute criminal infringement. However, the country where the products are produced and thus where the criminals, or some of them, are located, has an advantage in arresting them and bringing them to trial. Thus the country of production is often the one to do any prosecuting that gets done.

However, often such criminals choose a country with a relatively weak law-enforcement system, or one that does not much care about enforcing foreign (to it) copyrights, to operate in. Thus the the country that could arrest the criminals doesn't, and the country that might want to, can't get hold of them. International criminal copyright prosecutions are, I believe, rather rare.

As a practical matter, almost all copyright enforcement is by private suit, not criminal prosecution.

Since each country has jurisdiction on the infringement happen within their country, does the mean the criminal case to be settled in each 179 countries? If that is the case, then don't you think this increases the paperwork?

There is no need to "settle" the case in every, or indeed in any, jurisdiction. Any country where a criminal act occurred may prosecute if it chooses. In practice, few if any will choose to do so.

Can matters like this only be settled from only one country (plaintiff or defendant)?

No, several countries can bring cases if they so choose. There is no such thing as double jeopardy between separate countries, unless an agreement specifies that there is, and that is not common. Such countries may need to negotiate over possession of individual defendants - If country A has arrested Joe Thug, country B may not be able to try Joe without the cooperation of country A. Corporate defendants are, of course, always available. But unless they have an agreement not to do so, multiple countries may legally try Joe or Infringements inc for copyright infringement. Whether they will do so is another matter.

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    In theory, multiple sovereign states can sue the same party for the very same copyright infringement actions, because the default between two countries is that res iudicata and double jeopardy do not apply between different sovereigns. It takes a positive affirmation for such between two countries to prevent a country from starting a trial for the very same thing, if it tangents their country.
    – Trish
    Aug 20, 2022 at 17:11
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    @Trish, I was just adding something about this to my answer above. Aug 20, 2022 at 17:17
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    @Trish crimes are prosecuted, not sued
    – Dale M
    Aug 20, 2022 at 22:46
  • FWIW I believe private prosecutions are still possible in the UK, or at least in England-and-Wales.
    – phoog
    Aug 21, 2022 at 12:03

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