Morrison & Foerster partner James E. Hough discusses the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com in the Law360 article entitled, “Key Takeaways From Copyright Registration Ruling.”
In the article, Hough outlines the Court’s resolution of a long-standing circuit split by unanimously holding a copyright owner of a United States work may not file an infringement lawsuit until after the U.S. Copyright Office has completed its review of the copyright owner’s application and has issued (or definitively declined to issue) a certificate of registration. In so holding, the court recognized that delays in the registration process mean “the statutory [registration] scheme has not worked as Congress likely intended.” Those delays may increase as copyright owners react to this recent ruling, because some commentators reacted to this holding by urging companies to ensure prompt registration of all of their copyrightable works. This may be warranted in some cases, but several reasons should temper any rush to change existing practices.