U.S. Supreme Court adopts “registration approach” for copyright infringement actions
Art Law

U.S. Supreme Court adopts “registration approach” for copyright infringement actions

The U.S. Supreme Court has announced in Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com, LLC that copyright owners must wait for the Copyright Office to formally grant, or refuse to grant, a copyright registration before filing an infringement lawsuit. This decision settles a longstanding circuit split over when copyright owners can bring suit, with some circuits following the “registration approach,” now confirmed by the Supreme Court, and others following the “application approach;” allowing infringement suits to proceed upon the copyright owner’s filing of an application to register a copyright with the Copyright Office. Writing for the unanimous Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stated that while the “the statutory scheme has not worked as Congress likely envisioned,” the registration approach adopted by the Court “reflects the only satisfactory reading” of the Copyright Act. In the decision, the Court eschewed concerns that in some instances the Copyright Office’s delay may be so long that the statute of limitations for filing an infringement action may expire before the registration is issued by the Copyright Office. The Court pointed out that the average time for the Copyright Office to issue a registration is only around seven months, and that copyright owners can still […]

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