Opinion analysis: Court limits fee awards in copyright cases
Art Law

Opinion analysis: Court limits fee awards in copyright cases

The desultory argument in Rimini Street v. Oracle USA (discussed in my earlier post ) suggested a consensus hostile to the broad fee award approved by the lower court, so nothing in today’s unanimous opinion reversing the court of appeals comes as a surprise. The case involves the problem of litigation expenses in copyright litigation. Specifically, it calls for interpretation of Section 505 of the Copyright Act , which defines the expenses that a prevailing party in copyright litigation can obtain as including “full costs.” All agree that “costs” in Section 505 include the six narrow categories of “taxable costs” defined in the general provisions of the Judicial Code ( 28 U.S.C. § 1920 ). The question is whether an award of “full” costs can include costs beyond the costs that are “taxable” under Section 1920. In this case, for example, when respondent Oracle prevailed in its claim that petitioner Rimini Street had infringed Oracle’s copyright, the lower courts awarded Oracle $36 million in copyright-related damages, $29 million in attorney’s fees, $3.4 million in taxable costs and $13 million in additional nontaxable costs (covering expert witnesses, e-discovery, jury consulting and the like). The court held yesterday that the $13 […]

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