Register Before You Sue: SCOTUS Affirms Registration by Copyright Office as a Prerequisite to Infringement Litigation ?
Art Law

Register Before You Sue: SCOTUS Affirms Registration by Copyright Office as a Prerequisite to Infringement Litigation ?

Someone has infringed your copyright. Can you immediately file a copyright infringement ‎lawsuit? Well, that depends. Specifically, it depends on whether you have registered your ‎copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office. Under Section 411(a) of the Copyright Act (with ‎limited exceptions) “no civil action for infringement of the copyright in any United States work ‎shall be instituted until preregistration or registration of the copyright claim has been made in ‎accordance with this title.” 17 U.S.C. § 411(a) (Emphasis added). In Reed Elsevier, Inc. v. ‎Muchnick , the Supreme Court held that Section 411(a) is a precondition, but not a jurisdictional ‎requirement. 559 U.S. 154 (2010).‎ What, however, does it mean to “register” your work? What if you’ve applied for copyright ‎registration, and you’re waiting—often for six months or more—for the Copyright Office to act? ‎Is that enough? Can you file suit while you await the Copyright Office’s decision? Until this ‎month, that depended on where you filed suit. Circuit Courts interpreted the “registration” ‎requirement differently. The Circuit Courts’ approaches fell into one of three categories: (1) the ‎‎“registration” approach, under which a plaintiff must have obtained a registration prior to filing ‎suit; (2) the “application” approach, under which a […]

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