According to this answer, criminal copyright requires at least $1,000 of copied work within a 6 months period:

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.

If one copies $500 worth of work from 20 different copyright owners, do we add up all work to the total (= $10,000) or does it mean $1,000 per owner?

1 Answer 1


Criminal copyright infringement is defined at 17 U.S.C. § 506(a)(1). It is established when the infringement was committed:

(A) for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain;

(B) by the reproduction or distribution, including by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of 1 or more copies or phonorecords of 1 or more copyrighted works, which have a total retail value of more than $1,000; or

(C) by the distribution of a work being prepared for commercial distribution, by making it available on a computer network accessible to members of the public, if such person knew or should have known that the work was intended for commercial distribution.

So, there is no monetary threshold required. If there is $1000 worth of infringement, that just gets around the requirement to demonstrate the purpose under (A).

The amount is an aggregate of all infringements included in the charge. The wording is "1 or more copies... of 1 or more copyrighted works, which have a total retail value of more than $1,000".

And this becomes a felony under if the total comes to more than $2,500 (18 U.S.C. § 2319).

The Department of Justice describes this offence and the felony variant here, but it's a pretty straightforward reading of the text. See also Lydia Pallas Loren, "Digitization, Commodification, Criminalization: The Evolution of Criminal Copyright Infringement and the Importance of the Willfulness Requirement" (1999):

This Act criminalizes the reproduction or distribution of one or more copies of copyrighted works that have an aggregate retail value of over $1,000 during any 180 day period."

You can see an real indictment making these felony charges against Kim Dotcom and others here. Note how they break the charges down into different 180-day blocks of time, each alleging infringement of works having a total retail value of more than $2,500.

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