We May Finally Learn When You Can Sue For Copyright Infringement
The U.S. Copyright Act permits, but does not require, registration of copyright-protected works with the U.S. Copyright Office. Nevertheless, under the U.S. Copyright Act, registration by the Copyright Office (or ruling by the Copyright Office refusing to register) is, among other things, a prerequisite to bringing a copyright infringement action. The federal courts have long disagreed about whether an application for registration satisfies the rule. In other words, does the copyright owner have to wait for the Copyright Office to rule on the registration application before suing?
The United States Supreme Court has now agreed to hear a case that could resolve this long-disputed issue. Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation v. Wall-Street.com, LLC., Case No. 17-571. The appeal is from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which held – recognizing the disagreement among the courts – that a registration application is insufficient to sue.
Whichever way the Supreme Court rules, early registration has distinct advantages for the copyright owner. Advantages includes easier proofs at trial on liability and damages and the possibility of collecting attorneys’ fees for registration applications filed before infringement begins or, for published works, within three months of publication.
As the law continues to evolve on these matters, please note that this article is current as of date and time of publication and may not reflect subsequent developments. The content and interpretation of the issues addressed herein is subject to change. Cole Schotz P.C. disclaims any and all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this publication to the fullest extent permitted by law. This is for general informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Do not act or refrain from acting upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining legal, financial and tax advice. For further information, please do not hesitate to reach out to your firm contact or to any of the attorneys listed in this publication.
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