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How to respond if you admit to the copyright infringement

This advice applies to Scotland

This page tells you what to do if you admit to copyright infringement. We refer to copyright owner but claims for compensation may also come from an exclusive licensee or solicitor working on behalf of a copyright owner or exclusive licensee.

You should only admit to the claim if you are personally responsible for the copyright infringement. If someone else in your household has infringed the copyright even though you pay the bill for the internet connection, they should admit responsibility to the copyright owner. If you authorised someone else to infringe copyright on your internet connection, you are both liable for what is termed a joint infringement.

If you are personally responsible for the infringement you will be liable to pay damages to compensate the copyright owner or exclusive licensee for the infringement. You will usually also have to give a written undertaking to say that you will not repeat the acts of copyright infringement in the future.

If you are responsible together with someone else for a joint infringement because you have authorised the infringement, you are both liable to pay compensation for the infringement. However, the copyright owner only has the right to be compensated for the infringement once. A joint infringement does not mean that the copyright owner can claim compensation for the same infringement twice, in other words, from each of you.

If one of your children or someone for whom you are a legal guardian has committed the copyright infringement, you are in principle not liable for the copyright infringement. However, you should not ignore the letter. You can choose to respond to the claim as the guardian of the young person. You can then say whether you wish to settle the claim to avoid going to court.

Responding to the claim

When you respond to the copyright owner, your full response should state that you admit responsibility for the copyright infringement. You should also say whether you would like to settle the claim to avoid going to court.

If you admit the claim, the copyright owner will usually respond to your letter by proposing a sum of money which they want you to pay to settle the claim out of court. If the copyright owner is asking for compensation for financial loss, they must provide an explanation of how they have calculated the amount.

This figure is open to negotiation but the amount must be reasonable and proportionate to the copyright infringement you have admitted to. If necessary, they would need to justify to court the amount of damages they are claiming.

You don’t have to accept the sum proposed by the copyright owner if you feel it is disproportionate or doesn’t bear any relation to the copyright infringement you have committed.

However, if you admit to copyright infringement, you should always make a genuine attempt to settle out of court.

If you try to settle out of court but negotiations break down because the copyright owner or exclusive licensee demands a disproportionate sum, they may be penalised at a later stage if the case goes to court.

When you have admitted infringing copyright and you refuse to consider a settlement at all, the court may view your behaviour as unhelpful if the case later comes to court.

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