“Infringement on X’s Rights” or “Infringement of X’s Rights”?

A commenter on an earlier post suggested that “infringement on students’ rights” is mistaken, and should be “infringement of students’ rights.” The answer is a bit complicated, as it often is with prepositions in English, which tend to be partly idiomatic rather than entirely logical (e.g., why do we say “wrote on the site” but “wrote in the magazine”?). It appears that both are standard, but “infringement of” is substantially more common than “infringement on” — I wouldn’t say the latter is wrong, but the former is probably safer and less potentially distracting to readers.

My evidence: A Westlaw SCT query for te(“infringement on” +2 rights) & date(> 1/1/1980) yields 10 results, while “of” yields 30. In the ALLCASES databases, the ratio is even sharper, 533 to 3735. A Google Ngrams infringement of their rights/infringement on their rights search through the American English corpus reveals a similar result, with the “of” usage being about 4 times more common.

I expect, by the way, that “infringement on” is boosted by the now-common phrase “infringe on”: A Google Ngrams infringed on their rights,infringed their rights search reveals that the “on” usage has been more common than the “on”-less one in American English books for the last several decades, though the matter is the opposite in British English.