In The News

Senators Tillis and Coons Express Concerns with Fourth Estate in Letter to Copyright Office


26 Mar 2019

Morrison & Foerster partner James E. Hough discusses the impact the Supreme Court’s decision in Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v., LLC. decision in the IPWatchdog article, “Senators Tillis and Coons Express Concerns with Fourth Estate in Letter to Copyright Office.”  

Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Chris Coons (D-DE) expressed concern over the decision. In Fourth Estate, the nation’s highest court held that the Copyright Office must complete the review of an application for copyright registration before the copyright owner can file an infringement lawsuit in U.S. district court pursuant to Section 411(a) of the Copyright Act. The Supreme Court’s decision solved a split among circuit courts.

Hough said, “whether Fourth Estate will result in a substantial uptick in the pace of copyright registrations remains to be seen, but many have predicted that it will, and I think it is sensible for Congress to be concerned about whether the Copyright Office has plans to deal with the fallout.” Hough also noted that Congress has a number of tools at its disposal if it does indeed conclude that the Fourth Estate decision will have an adverse impact on copyright owners’ ability to protect their rights:

“Congress can fix the problem easily by either increasing the Copyright Office budget to reduce processing times, or by amending 411(a) to clarify that a copyright owner may commence litigation upon delivering an application for copyright registration to the Copyright Office. Since the latter fix would not cost any money, I suspect that may be more appealing than the former.”



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