Response to Supreme Court decision in Fourth Estate v. Wall-Street

Today, the Supreme Court issued a long awaited decision in Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation v. and resolved a circuit court split and significant uncertainty over the issue of when registration of a copyright occurs, and when a copyright owner may commence an infringement suit to protect their rights.

The Justices ruled unanimously and concluded that “registration . . . has been made” within the meaning of 17 U. S. C. §411(a) not when an application for registration is filed, but when the Register has registered a copyright after examining a properly filed application.

In response, the Fourth Estate issued the following statement from executive director, W. Jeffrey Brown:

“Today’s decision resolves a long-standing conflict in the law over when a copyright owner can file suit for infringement. As the Supreme Court acknowledged today, that conflict dates back over 60 years. As a result of Fourth Estate’s efforts, the uncertainty over when a copyright owner can sue has been lifted for all litigants.

The Supreme Court also recognized that the statutory scheme for copyright has not worked as Congress originally envisioned as delays prolonged the registration process. Fourth Estate encountered exactly those delays in this case. Fourth Estate calls upon Congress to remedy the long delays currently experienced by copyright owners”