This article is the second in a series, analyzing the Supreme Court’s decision in Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com, LLC., issued on March 4, 2019.
In the briefing submitted to the Supreme Court in connection with the Fourth Estate case, the petitioner argued that a determination that the registration certificates were required before filing suit would dramatically constrict a copyright owner’s ability to stop infringements and enforce its rights in court, given the statutory time limit in which to file suit. Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com, LLC, No. 17-571, 2019 WL 1005829 at ¶ 20 (U.S. Mar. 4, 2019). The Court dismissed this concern as “overstated,” noting that “the average processing time for registration applications is currently seven months.” Id.
However, the presence of a three-year statute of limitations on filing copyright infringement actions should instruct copyright owners to be diligent in policing their rights and seeking registration as soon as possible – or at least as soon as possible after infringement has occurred (if the infringed work was not already registered), so that the owner is not precluded from recovering its actual damages or enjoining further infringement. 17 U.S.C. § 507(b) (“No civil action shall be maintained under the provisions of this title unless it is commenced within three years after the claim accrued.”) (emphasis added).
When Does a “Claim” Accrue?
The date when a copyright infringement claim accrues is also the subject of a circuit split – so copyright owners must also pay attention to the rule that applies in their jurisdiction. Continue reading