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Can I sue a foreign website owner under the U.S. jurisdiction for a copyright infringement?

Orland, CA |

If I found my infringed content is posted on a foreign website, can I sue the website owner and bring him/her under the U.S. jurisdiction? Or I can only sue him/her under his/her country jurisdiction?

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Attorney answers 5


Whether the US would have jurisdiction over this person really depends. Depending on which country, however, you may be able to use those courts to seek a remedy as many are a party to the Berne treaty regards to the application of copyright laws. It is also entirely possible that the ISP hosting the content may respect a DMCA Take Down notice even if they are not located in the US or its territories, so that is worth exploring as well.

It might be helpful to have a copyright lawyer near to where the defendent is located send a Cease & Desist letter so they know that they may be sued where they sleep.

Most of us here, including myself, offer a free phone consult.

Best regards,
Natoli-Lapin, LLC
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If the copyright infringement occurs wholly outside the U.S. then a U.S. court would have no subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate the infringement claim [because, in general, U.S. copyright law does not have extraterritorial effect].

However, if the alleged infringer (1) has sufficient contacts with the U.S. such that a federal court's exercise of jurisdiction over the person or company would comport with our notion of fair play and substantial justice or (2) is engaged in the allegedly infringing conduct within the U.S. then the alleged infringer could be sued here.

Only your own attorney can evaluate the facts relevant to the question and whether it makes any economic sense to file suit. Good luck.

The above is general information ONLY and is not legal advice, does not form an attorney-client relationship, and should NOT be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. I am not your attorney. You should seek the advice of competent counsel before taking any action related to your inquiry.



What did you mean by "has sufficient contacts with the U.S."? Like the alleged infringer has the U.S. Visa or enters U.S.? What if the website uses a .com domain or the website owner has a PayPal account? Are these considered has sufficient contacts with the U.S.?

Daniel Nathan Ballard

Daniel Nathan Ballard


All good questions to ask your own copyright attorney.


When it comes to transnational litigation, the options are many as well the results. In order to have the US applicable you need to have personal or SM jurisdiction, at least. Sometime however, the US jurisdiction seems not the best one because you do not have D assets to seize. You need to hire an international firm dealing with international litigation with a previous assessment of your damages. Best.

This reply is offered for educational purpose only. You should seek the advice of an attorney. The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than an educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the undisclosed individual asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in the State of New York. Responses are based solely on New York Law unless stated otherwise. Pursuant to Internal Revenue Service guidance, be advised that any federal tax advice contained in this written or electronic communication is not intended or written to be used and it cannot be used by any person or entity for the purpose of (i) avoiding any tax penalties that may be imposed by the Internal Revenue Service or any other U.S. Federal taxing authority or agency or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein.


There is a legal test and a practical test. Attorney Ballard has given you the legal test, so i won't repeat that here. The practical test is, once you gota judgment here could you collect either here on the US, or somewhere. If you can't collect, the economics may not allow you to sure, as then finances say you are going to lose money suing.

I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.

Bruce E. Burdick

Bruce E. Burdick


Please excuse the smartphone typos. gota--> get a on--> in sure--> sue

Daniel Nathan Ballard

Daniel Nathan Ballard


There is no "legal test and a practical test." There are only the questions whether you can sue in the U.S. and whether you can collect if you win. Which is why I wrote that "[o]nly your own attorney can evaluate the facts relevant to the question and whether it makes any economic sense to file suit." The answers, for you, to the two questions that you need answered will be neither "legal" nor "practical" -- they will be the end result of applying law to fact to approximate what's best for you.


As a California Attorney I Generally agree with my colleagues for the U.S law. BUT as a real international attorney (former lawyer of the Supreme Court of Greece ,Court of Justice (Brussels) And Certified Fraud Examiner, I will add that there are many ways to skin the cat that unfortunately my U.S colleagues don't know. Before you dismiss any form of action or reaction to your problem think that If you leave the issue without doing anything you better kiss off your web site !
I am sure I can help u.

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