Copyright infringement and remedies

Infringing acts

What constitutes copyright infringement?

Any use of a protected work which falls within the scope of any economic or moral right, is made without the consent of the author or of the respective rights holder, and does not fall under any exception or limitation provided by law, constitutes a copyright infringement.

A copyright infringement may occur even in case that a party who has entered into a licence or exploitation agreement with the author or the respective rights holder for certain uses or exploitations of a work, acts outside the defined scope of these agreements.

Vicarious and contributory liability

Does secondary liability exist for indirect copyright infringement? What actions incur such liability?

A specific reference to a secondary liability for indirect infringement is made in Greek copyright law in relation to:

  • the intermediaries (eg, internet service providers) whose services are used by a third party to infringe a copyright or related right or the sui generis right of a database maker, where the law states that the rights holders may also apply for an injunction against these intermediaries; and
  • the circumvention of technological measures, where the law states that the manufacture, import, distribution, sale, rental, advertisement for sale or rental, or possession for commercial purposes of devices, products or components or the provision of services which are promoted, advertised or marketed for the purpose of circumvention of, or are primarily designed, produced, adapted or performed for the purpose of enabling or facilitating the circumvention of any effective technological measures are prohibited. The perpetrator has both civil and criminal liability, while administrative penalties may also be imposed.

Furthermore, the general civil law provisions on tort liability also apply for copyright infringements. Thus in case that an infringing act was committed by a person who either works as an employee or is the legal representative of an entity, then both this person as well as the respective entity will be considered liable for this infringement or in case that a person acts under the instructions of another person or for the benefit of this other person, then both these persons may be considered liable for the same infringement.

Available remedies

What remedies are available against a copyright infringer?

The law provides for several remedies against a copyright infringer, including the following.

Preliminary measures

The rights holder may file for preliminary measures (and also obtain a temporary injunction until the issuance of the decision regarding the preliminary measures) requesting, among other things:

  • precautionary seizure of items in the possession of the alleged infringer that constitute means of commission or product or evidence of the infringement;
  • detailed description of such items, including the taking of photographs; or
  • any other measure intended to prevent any imminent infringement of the rights or to forbid, on a provisional basis, continuation of the infringement of that right.

In case of an infringement committed on a commercial scale, court may order the precautionary seizure of the property of the alleged infringer, including the blocking of his or her bank accounts.

Civil action

The rights holder may file a civil action to claim:

  • recognition of his or her rights (being infringed);
  • discontinuation of the infringement and its omission in the future (which may include recall from the channels of commerce of goods that they have found to be infringing rights, definitive removal from the channels of commerce or destruction); and
  • indemnification for moral damages and to seek damages of not less than twice the legally required or normally payable remuneration for the form of exploitation which the infringing party made without licence, in case of an infringement committed by intent or negligence of the infringing party. Instead of seeking damages, and regardless of whether the infringement was committed by intent or negligence, the rights holder may demand either the payment of the sum accrued by the infringing party from the unlicensed exploitation of a work or the profit gained by the infringing party from such an exploitation.

Administrative fines

The law provides also for the imposition of special administration fines to the following categories of persons:

  • persons who reproduce, sell or otherwise distribute to the public or possess with the purpose of distributing a computer program;
  • street vendors or standing persons (outside a shop) caught to distribute to the public by sale or by other means, or to possess with the intention of distributing sound recordings on which a work protected by copyright or related rights law has been recorded; and
  • persons who reproduce phonograms stored on any technical storage media.

The law also provides for an administrative procedure before the Committee for Online Infringement, in cases of copyright infringement on the internet (see question 44).

Criminal sanctions

The law provides also for specific criminal sanctions (see question 43).

Publication of Decisions of civil or criminal courts

Decisions of civil or criminal courts concerning copyright infringement may order the appropriate measures to be taken for the propagation of information relating to the decision, including the posting of the decision, as well as its publication, in summary or in its entirety, in the mass media or the internet.

Application for evidences

The rights holder may request for the court to order that specified evidence which lies in the control of the opposing party to be presented in the court by this opposing party and in case of an infringement committed on a commercial scale, the court may also order the communication of banking, financial or commercial documents under the control of the opposing party. The court may also order information on the origin and distribution networks of the goods or services which infringe a copyright to be provided by the infringer.

Limitation period

Is there a time limit for seeking remedies?

A compensation claim or a claim for moral damages (in case of an infringement committed by intent or negligence) is barred five years after the claimant became aware of the damage and the person liable for the damage. In any case these claims are barred 20 years after the infringing act. The 20-year statute of limitation also applies to claims that are based on unjustified enrichment and to cease-and-desist claims.

Monetary damages

Are monetary damages available for copyright infringement?

Yes. See question 39.

Attorneys’ fees and costs

Can attorneys’ fees and costs be claimed in an action for copyright infringement?

In Greece, the losing party is obliged to reimburse the winning party for certain legal costs of the court proceedings. In case of an action for copyright infringement, such legal costs and other expenses shall obligatorily include any pertinent expenditure, such as witness costs, attorney fees, fees of experts and technical consultants of the parties and expenses made for the discovery of the infringers reasonably incurred by the winning party.

Criminal enforcement

Are there criminal copyright provisions? What are they?

The law provides for specific criminal sanctions for any persons violating copyright, related rights and database rights, circumventing technical measures and make unauthorised use of computer programs.

As far as the violation of copyright is concerned, any person who, in contravention of the provisions of Greek copyright law or of lawfully ratified multilateral international conventions on the protection of copyright, infringes any of the economic or certain of the moral rights of the author, is liable to imprisonment of no less than a year and to a fine from €2,900 to €15,000. If the financial gain sought or the damage caused by the perpetration of an act referred to above, is particularly great, the sanction shall be not less than two years imprisonment and a fine of €6,000 to €30,000.

If the guilty party has perpetrated any of the aforementioned acts by profession or at a commercial scale or if the circumstances in connection with the perpetration of the act indicate that the guilty party poses a serious threat to the protection of copyright, the sanction shall be imprisonment of up to 10 years and a fine of €6,000 to €30,000, together with the withdrawal of the trading licence of the undertaking that served as the vehicle for the act.

Online infringement

Are there any specific liabilities, remedies or defences for online copyright infringement?

In general, all the provisions referring to liabilities, remedies and defences for copyright infringement apply in both the analogue and digital worlds.

The law provides further for a specific administrative procedure before the Committee for Online Infringement in cases of copyright infringement on the internet. In particular, the rights holder may submit to this committee a pro forma application for termination of infringement along with all the relevant evidences, which is admissible only in case that the rights holder has previously made use of the corresponding procedure which the provider had determined, and which was concluded within reasonable time but with no result. Where the committee substantiates that copyright is infringed, it shall notify respectively the involving parties and ask from those that are notified to remove the infringing content from the website where it has been illegally posted or to block access to it. In case of non-compliance with the dictum of the decision, the committee shall impose a fine of €500 to €1,000 for each and every day of non-compliance.

Furthermore, the law grants the rights holders with a right to apply for an injunction against the intermediaries (eg, internet service providers) whose services are used by a third party to infringe a copyright or related right or the sui generis right of database maker.

Prevention measures

How may copyright infringement be prevented?

The law provides for several measures for the prevention of copyright infringement, including:

  • Imposition of technological measures, meaning any technology, device or component that, in the normal course of its operation, is designed to prevent or restrict acts in respect of protected works, which are not authorised by the respective rights holder. The circumvention of these technological measures is prohibited, while the infringer also faces criminal charges.
  • Where there is a clear intention of a third party to offer an unlawful public performance of a theatrical or cinematographic or a musical work, the rights holder may request from the competent local police authority to prohibit the infringing act.
  • In any case of threat of infringement of copyright, the rights holder may file for preliminary measures in order to prevent the infringement or claim the recognition of his or her right and the discontinuation of the threatened infringement and its omission in the future.

The law also provides for several other measures (such as the imposition of certain specifications for the equipment and other materials used in the making of reproductions of works, use of control systems which permit the designation of reproduced or used works and the extent and frequency of the reproduction or use, control labelling in visual or sound recordings) that have not been entered into force yet.