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Court proceedings

4 min read

What are court proceedings?

Court proceedings mean bringing a dispute to a tribunal.

If you haven't already, we recommend you go back and read our pages on Examples of Dispute Scenarios before you continue reading.

What are court proceedings?

Court proceedings are processes where someone seeks a judicial resolution of a dispute.

Court proceedings are, in principle, always available to or other who consider their rights in the or were infringed. But there are also other avenues to resolve infringement disputes.

Learn more about these options in the previous pages on Voluntary Agreement and Alternative Dispute Resolution, such as , and .

While a rights holder may choose from different mechanisms to solve a dispute, depending on the case and urgency to take action, court proceedings may be the most efficient route. That is the case of provisional measures, which are orders issued by the courts to immediately stop an infringement, to preserve evidence, or both.

Find more information on these procedures below.

How or when might court proceedings be used to resolve disputes?

There are two types of court proceedings: civil and criminal.

In cases where the dispute is between or other parties and is mostly about a business deal or contract , litigation would be through civil court proceedings. Litigation through civil court proceedings is also used in the case of copyright infringement disputes. Rights holders may obtain a court decision ordering the other party to stop the infringing activities and, depending on the case, to pay them compensatory damages for the harms caused by the infringement. The rights holders may also obtain other remedies, such as the disposal of the copyright-infringing goods and the material and equipment used to produce those goods.

The most serious cases of copyright infringement, often referred to as copyright piracy, are also prohibited through criminal laws. Therefore, where the laws of a specific country include criminal penalties, for example, monetary fines or imprisonment, for severe types of copyright infringement, litigation can also happen through criminal court proceedings. This usually starts with filing a complaint with the enforcement authorities, which will investigate the case and initiate and conduct the criminal court proceeding.

In criminal court proceedings, rights holders or their representatives are not directly involved. However, they can still protect their interests and recover compensatory damages and other remedies, either by intervening in the criminal proceedings as a victim in some countries or by initiating a separate civil court proceeding.

Note that in many countries, criminal penalties will be available only in the event of copyright piracy on a commercial scale, that is, when the pirate activity is seen as business. You should look at the laws of the specific country where the infringement is taking place or contact the local to determine if the infringement is considered a criminal offense.

For both criminal and civil cases, courts can also take urgent steps to protect and other right holders from the infringement of their rights through provisional measures until the court makes a final decision. Courts can issue a temporary injunction ordering the alleged infringer to cease infringing the rights in question, to protect evidence, or both.

Creators who have an agreement with a or will usually be represented by their publisher and label, who will take any court action on their behalf. In some cases, creators might also be represented and defended by their or other representative.

As with every resolution method, but especially with court proceedings, creators should consult a lawyer before proceeding with the process. It's important to fully understand the dispute, the court's process, your chance of success, and the amount of time and cost involved.

Image credit: Martin Fabricius Rasmussen