Copyright Infringement Suit Requires Registration by the Copyright Office

The United States Supreme Court settled a long-standing conflict in the circuit courts regarding when registration occurs under the Copyright Act. The date of registration is significant because registration of a work is required before a copyright owner may initiate a lawsuit for copyright infringement. Some courts of appeal held that registration is made-and a copyright owner may sue for infringement-upon submission of a completed copyright application and fees to the U.S. Copyright Office. A unanimous Supreme Court disagreed, concluding that registration occurs when the Copyright Office grants registration.

Under federal copyright law, the effective date of a copyright registration is the date of the submission of the copyright application, and a copyright owner may recover damages for infringement that occurred both before and after registration.

The decision, Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com, LLC, may be found here.