Supreme Court Issues Two Unanimous Decisions in Copyright Litigation Cases
Art Law

Supreme Court Issues Two Unanimous Decisions in Copyright Litigation Cases

On March 4, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court issued two unanimous opinions interpreting provisions of the Copyright Act. In the first case, the Court decided that the Copyright Office must register a copyright before a copyright owner can file suit. In the second case, the Court clarified what costs are available to a party in copyright litigation. Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com, LLC Under the Copyright Act, “[N]o civil action for infringement of the copyright in any United States work shall be instituted until…registration of the copyright claim has been made….” Two competing approaches developed to determine when a work is “registered.” Under the first approach, a copyright owner could file a copyright infringement lawsuit after the Copyright Office received a completed application and the owner paid the required fee and deposited the work. Under the second approach, a copyright owner could only file a copyright infringement lawsuit after the Copyright Office either approved or rejected the application. Fourth Estate sued Wall-Street.com for making available Fourth Estate’s news articles after the parties’ license agreement ended. When Fourth Estate commenced the case, it had only filed applications to register its articles. The district court dismissed the case, and […]

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