CDPA defines copying as an infringing act if it is a reproduction in any material form (Great Britain 1988). Since most basic operation of a computer involves making copies (Doctorow 2008 p.27), this potentially covers the basics of what a computer is capable of doing, as well as the computer itself. This has led to a number of amendments to the Law in the early years of the 21st Century.
If an infringement has taken place, the copyright holder is the only one that can take action. Under the DMCA in the U.S. and CRRR in U.K., the copyright holder simply needs to contact the publisher with specific details of the infringement to have the work removed. This can lead to abuse (Doctorow, 2008, p.56) and there are some cases of these ‘take down’ notices being used inappropriately.
Under UK Civil law the burden for proof is in the alleged infringer (U.K.C.S., 2010b). In the US, the potential cost of fighting a litigation is prohibitive to most people, although there have been a number of cases where the rights holder has been punished for erroneous or incomplete claims of infringement (Pinsent Masons LLP 2008)
If an infringement case is taken to court, the copyright holder can sue for damages based on loss of earnings and the benefit to the defendant of the infringement. This can lead to a $150,000 per track fine under US law (Lessig 2004 p.180), to a mere £350 compensation (Brignall 2010).
Current U.K. and U.S. laws are recognising the shift from copyright infringement by traditional pirates to infringement in private homes. The “Digital Economy Act 2010” (DEA) has been specifically enacted to increase protection against online and digital infringement (Korn 2010). There have been legal challenges to higher levels of fines imposed, and representatives of copyright holders are looking towards blocking infringers’ access rather than expensive court action (Kravets 2010).