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Copyright Registration Condition to Suit

January 7, 2020 by in SLG Legal Updates

In a landmark copyright case, the United States Supreme Court has held that copyright infringement suits can only be brought after the U.S. Copyright Office actually issues a registration – not, as some U.S. federal circuit courts had held, as soon as the claimant applies for copyright protection. Fourth Estate Pub. Ben. Corp. v., LLC, 139 S. Ct. 881 (2019).

The U.S. Copyright Act is clear on the basic principle that “no civil action for infringement of the copyright in any United States work shall be instituted until . . . registration of the copyright claim has been made . . .” 17 U. S. C. §411(a). However, federal circuit courts had been split on the question of when registration is deemed to have been made – upon application or upon issuance of a valid registration by the U.S. Copyright Office.

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