Category: United States

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U.S. Supreme Court Decides Two Copyright Cases and Impacts Registration Strategy for Copyright Owners

U.S. Supreme Court Decides Two Copyright Cases and Impacts Registration Strategy for Copyright Owners

March 4, 2019, marked the first time in over 100 years that the Supreme Court of the United States issued two copyright decisions in the same day[1] – both unanimous and both strict interpretations of statutory language.  In the first of these two decisions, the Supreme Court unanimously held in Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation v. Wall-Street.com that copyright owners must obtain a registration from the U.S. Copyright Office prior to filing an infringement action.[2]  The Court, in an opinion authored by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, resolved a long-standing circuit split on whether the “application approach” (merely filing a copyright application) or the “registration approach” (obtaining a copyright registration) is sufficient to file a copyright infringement suit under § 411(a) of the Copyright Act of 1976.  In the second decision, the Court in Rimini Street, Inc. v. Oracle USA, Inc. determined that “full costs” under § 505 of the Copyright Act did not authorize awarding litigation expenses beyond those specified in the general costs statute.

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