Ruling creates circuit-court split, denies copyright holders the significant benefits that copyright registration confers
May 19, 2017 (Miami) – The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta, Georgia issued its decision denying the Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation’s (Fourth Estate) appeal in its copyright litigation against defendants Wall-Street.com LLC and Jerold D. Burden. An appeal is planned.
The decision stemmed from the lawsuit for copyright infringement filed by Fourth Estate in Fort Lauderdale with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida against Wall-Street.com LLC and Jerold D. Burden for their violations of the Fourth Estate’s rights in its copyrighted news content. The suit sought to restrain Wall-Street.com, LLC from further distribution of the Fourth Estate news articles and to recover damages.
The lower court dismissed the suit because the Fourth Estate had not yet received a copyright certificate back from the U.S. Copyright Office.
But Jeff Brown, executive director of the Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation, believes that ruling didn’t address the central issue of the case.
“The 11th Circuit Court’s ruling merely creates a delay in the enforcement of our rights, and we are preparing to appeal.” said Brown. “Luckily the question before the appeals court was never if Wall-Street.com LLC / Jerold Burden had violated copyright and intellectual property; they clearly had. Instead, we’re pursuing a procedural question on when copyright litigation can be brought against an infringer.”
Brown added that backlogs and delays in processing new copyrights at the U.S. Copyright Office deny copyright holder significant benefits that copyright registration confers, including eligibility for statutory damages and recovery of attorney fees.
Other federal courts have held that filing the copyright registration is sufficient to fulfill the registration requirement. The Eleventh Circuit’s ruling conflicts with the other courts and now creates confusion, Brown said.
“We trust that the Supreme Court will now take up the question and resolve this uncertainty in a manner that protects copyright holder rights,” he added.
About the Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation
The Fourth Estate is a journalism membership organization with a mission to “contribute to a healthy society by fostering, supporting and incubating a sustainable and vibrant free press.”
Incorporated as a Public Benefit Corporation and operating as a multi-stakeholder, new-generation cooperative, members of the Fourth Estate are individuals and organizations representing news and journalism producers as well as consumers of the news product.
On the web: www.JournalismAssociation.org
Joel B. Rothman
Board Certified in Intellectual Property Law
4651 North Federal Highway
Boca Raton, Florida 33431