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If a mall lets a storeowner sell counterfeit copies of CDs/DVDs - who is liable for copyright infringement.

Wilmington, DE |

If someone is selling counterfeit CDs in a mall where they rent space - who is liable for copyright infringement?

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Attorney answers 3


Everyone in the chain of distribution - the manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer, lessor of the retailer, etc.- is liable to the copyright owner.

Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.


Attorney Koslyn is spot on.

One thing - the "lessor of the retailer" is the mall owner which means that that company or person is also liable to the copyright owner [so long as the elements of contributory or vicarious infringement liability are met].


Alot will depend upon what you mean by the mall "letting" a storeowner sell counterfeit CDs/DVDs.

Others in addition to those who directly infringe a copyright can be liable for the infringement as well. They are liable for what is called "indirect infringement." There are two kinds: contributory infringement and vicarious infringement.

To be liable as a contributory infringer, the person (here, mall owner) must have both (i) knowledge of the infringing activity and (ii) induce or materially contribute to the infringement in some way.

To be liable as a vicarious infringer, the person (mall owner) must have (i) the right and ability to control the infringer's actions and (2) receive a financial benefit or profit from the infringement.

Without further facts, it is impossible to know whether these elements could be made out. It is possible, but not certain, that they could.