• Paul Peter Nicolai


In a recent decision, the US Supreme Court ruled that an actual copyright registration from the US copyright office is required to be able to sue for copyright infringement. It also ruled that once the copyright has been issued, the owner is entitled to recover for infringement which occurred both before and after the actual registration.


A number of courts had ruled that a prospective owner could sue for copyright infringement once an application was on file. The Supreme Court noted that even though it now takes several months for a copyright to issue instead of what used to be a two week process, the language of the act was not changed sufficient for pre-issuance litigation to be authorized. Except for certain statutory exemptions, actions to sue for copyright infringement can only be brought after the copyright registration is received. Anyone contemplating that copyright infringement litigation might be necessary to protect a work should be looking at filing for copyright registration as soon as possible.


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