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Standing on Copyright Lawsuits

The U.S. Supreme Court finally resolved the issue of whether a Copyright litigant needs to have a Copyright Registration issued to have standing. Prior to the Court's decision, there was a circuit split between the various Federal Districts. In some Districts a Plaintiff would have standing once a Copyright Application was filed and in other Districts standing did not exist until a Copyright Registration was issued. In its unanimous decision, the Supreme Court resolved the longstanding circuit split deciding that it is not sufficient for the copyright owner to merely file an application before bringing a lawsuit. Copyright owners must now have a Copyright Registration in hand before filing suit. The argument that waiting for a copyright registration to issue would prejudice the rights of copyright owners, failed. The Supreme Court reasons that particularly in light of the Copyright Office’s seventh month average processing time, there was no significant prejudice.

Content creators should take note and make an effort to proactively seek copyright protection when a work is created rather than waiting to seek a registration when faced with an infringement issue. The case is Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com LLC et al., case number 17-571.

Written by
Dan Cotman
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