Wednesday 6 March 2019

Two New U.S. Supreme Court Cases on Copyright Law

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a pair of copyright decisions.  The first concerns the award of costs and the second is directed to registration as a prerequisite to bringing an infringement action.  The first case, Rimini Street v. Oracle, determined that an award of costs is limited to the costs specified in 28 U.S.C. section 1920 and 1821.  The opinion quotes section 1920 and states:

The six categories that a federal court may award as costs are:
"(1) Fees of the clerk and marshal;
(2) Fees for printed or electronically recorded transcripts necessarily obtained for use in the case;
(3) Fees and disbursements for printing and witnesses;
(4) Fees for exemplification and the costs of making copies of any materials where the copies are necessarily obtained for use in the case;
(5) Docket fees under section 1923 of this title;
(6) Compensation of court appointed experts, compensation of interpreters, and salaries, fees, expenses, and costs of special interpretation services under section 1828 of this title." 28 U. S. C. §1920.

Moreover, the general costs statute “§1821 provides particular reimbursement rates for witnesses' "[p]er diem and mileage" expenses.”  Thus, Oracle is unable to recover for costs such as “expert witness fees, e-discovery expenses, and jury consultant fees.”

The second case, Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp., determined that generally a copyright owner must obtain a registration before filing an infringement suit.  This clears up a prior split of jurisdictions concerning whether an application for registration was sufficient to file an infringement suit. 

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