Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman

What you should know about electronic subscriptions and copyright law: a best-practices guide

By Carolyn S Toto and Mark R Kendrick

Increasingly, printed matter is being made available via the internet in electronic form, and both publishers and readers alike are starting to prefer an online format over the printed hardcopy format. One example is electronic newsletters or reports offered through online subscriptions. These can be emailed to the subscriber on a daily, weekly or monthly basis just as the printed hardcopy formats would have been mailed. Unlike the hardcopy formats, however, the electronic counterparts can be easily printed out or forwarded to large groups of people. Since these newsletters and reports are generally protected by copyrights, an unauthorised mass distribution can raise a host of risks and liabilities, including copyright infringement. If the subscriber has obtained the subscription as part of his or her employment for use by the employer, these risks and liabilities can be imputed to the employer.

A large part of the risks and liabilities relates to the amount of damages that can be claimed for copyright infringement for these types of works. The Copyright Act provides that a copyright owner may elect to recover, instead of actual damages and profits, an award of statutory damages of not less than $750 (£480) but not more than $30,000 per copyright infringed. This amount may be enhanced up to $150,000 per copyright infringed based on a finding of wilful infringement. When each daily or weekly newsletter or report is deemed a separate copyrighted work, the statutory damages can add up quickly over the years…

If you are registered and logged in to the site, click on the link below to read the rest of the Pillsbury briefing. If not, please register or sign in with your details below.

Sign in or Register to continue reading this article

Sign in


It's quick, easy and free!

It takes just 5 minutes to register. Answer a few simple questions and once completed you’ll have instant access.

Register now

Why register to The Lawyer


Industry insight

In-depth, expert analysis into the stories behind the headlines from our leading team of journalists.


Market intelligence

Identify the major players and business opportunities within a particular region through our series of free, special reports.


Email newsletters

Receive your pick of The Lawyer's daily and weekly email newsletters, tailored by practice area, region and job function.

More relevant to you

To continue providing the best analysis, insight and news across the legal market we are collecting some information about who you are, what you do and where you work to improve The Lawyer and make it more relevant to you.


Tower 42, Level 23
25 Old Broad Street