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Copyrights Entertainment and Sports Law Litigation United States Supreme Court

How Judges Are Interpreting Supreme Court’s Copyright ‘Registration’ Ruling

In Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com LLC, the U.S. Supreme Court held that, under 17 U.S.C. §411(a), “registration occurs, and a copyright claimant may commence an infringement suit, when the Copyright Office registers a copyright” — that is, acts on a registration application, rather than when an applicant delivers the registration materials to the Copyright Office.

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In March 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court held that, under 17 U.S.C. §411(a), “registration occurs, and a copyright claimant may commence an infringement suit, when the Copyright Office registers a copyright” — that is, acts on a registration application, rather than when an applicant delivers the registration materials to the Copyright Office. Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com LLC, 139 S. Ct. 881 (2019). The 9-0 Supreme Court majority opinion, by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, affirmed a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and helped clarify the U.S. Copyright Act’s use of the word “registration” that had split the federal circuits. But even with Fourth Estate, some questions remain.

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