U.S. Legal System
The United States Constitution is the basis of the U.S. legal system. Article 1
Section 8 Clause 8 is the Copyright Clause in the Constitution.
Copyright is a federal law so it is important to understand how federal laws work.
If there is a dispute about a federal law it must be adjudicated in a federal court.
State legal systems are similar in structure to the Federal legal system but can
usually only hear state law claims. Visit the
US Federal Courts website
for more information.
The courts settle disputes between two parties by interpreting the laws.
Once a law suit has been initiated, the parties to the law suit go to
trial. The person who loses at trial can appeal the court’s decision to
the appropriate U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. If they lose there they can
appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court can decide whether or
not to hear the case. If they choose to hear it, then their decision is
the final decision. There is no higher court in the United States than the
The District Courts are the trial courts and each state has at least one.
The trials are either civil or criminal in nature. People who win their
civil case usually are awarded money to compensate for their damage whereas
people found guilty in criminal cases usually go to prison. Copyright
infringement trials are generally civil suits but there can be criminal
charges as well.