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Copyrights Entertainment and Sports Law Litigation

Ninth Circuit Says Copyright Plaintiffs Can Reach Back More Than Three Years In Seeking Infringement Damages

How far back from accrual of a claim may a plaintiff reach for copyright damages?


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Under Section 507(b) of the U.S. Copyright Act, an infringement claim isn’t timely filed “unless it is commenced within three years after the claim accrued.” In its recent decision in Starz Entertainment LLC v. MGM Domestic Television Distribution LLC, 21-55379 (9th Cir. 2022), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit noted: “Generally, the claim ‘accrues’ when the infringement or violation of one of the copyright holder’s exclusive rights occurs, known as the ‘incident of injury rule.’ In our circuit, and every other circuit to have reached the question, an exception to that infringement rule has developed. Known as the ‘discovery rule,’ a claim alternatively accrues when the copyright holder knows or reasonably should know that an infringement occurred.”

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