We’ve all seen it. Stick a movie in the DVD player, and up pops a scary message from law enforcement: if you infringe copyright, the feds will come after you. Indeed, this threat is so ubiquitous that it has worked its way into popular perception; as any copyright expert knows from cocktail party conversations, laypeople seem to view copyright infringement as mostly a criminal matter.
It’s certainly possible to go to jail for violating copyright law, as long as the violation is willful and involves specific kinds or amounts of infringement. And the good news for copyright owners is that more and more people are in fact facing criminal penalties for their infringement; the number of criminal convictions for intellectual property violations has increased 61% over the last decade. [...]
James Gibson, Will You Go to Jail for Copyright Infringment?, The Media Institute (May 25, 2011), available at http://www.mediainstitute.org/IPI/2011/052511.php.