Caselaw and Updates: From public sources
US Supreme Court Copyright Cases: Decided 3/4/2019.
FOURTH ESTATE PUBLIC BENEFIT CORP. v. WALLSTREET.COM, LLC, ET AL.
Petitioner Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation (Fourth Estate), a news organization, licensed works to respondent Wall-Street.com, LLC (Wall-Street), a news website. Fourth Estate sued Wall-Street and its owner for copyright infringement of news articles that WallStreet failed to remove from its website after canceling the parties’ license agreement. Fourth Estate had filed applications to register the articles with the Copyright Office, but the Register of Copyrights had not acted on those applications. Title 17 U. S. C. §411(a) states 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 in accordance with this title.” The District Court dismissed the complaint, and the Eleventh Circuit affirmed, holding that “registration . . . has [not] been made” under §411(a) until the Copyright Office registers a copyright.
Held: Registration occurs, and a copyright claimant may commence an infringement suit, when the Copyright Office registers a copyright. Upon registration of the copyright, however, a copyright owner can recover for infringement that occurred both before and after registration.
RIMINI STREET, INC., ET AL. v. ORACLE USA, INC., ET AL
A jury awarded Oracle damages after finding that Rimini Street had infringed various Oracle copyrights. After judgment, the District Court also awarded Oracle fees and costs, including $12.8 million for litigation expenses such as expert witnesses, e-discovery, and jury consulting. In affirming the $12.8 million award, the Ninth Circuit acknowledged that it covered expenses not included within the six categories of costs that the general federal statute authorizing district courts to award costs, 28 U. S. C. §§1821 and 1920, provides may be awarded against a losing party. The court nonetheless held that the award was appropriate because the Copyright Act gives federal district courts discretion to award “full costs” to a party in copyright litigation, 17 U. S. C. §505.
Held: The term “full costs” in §505 of the Copyright Act means the costs specified in the general costs statute codified at §§1821 and 1920..