One of the great challenges for intellectual property law in recent years has been the increasing prevalence of digital content. In some cases — including the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 — Congress has stepped in to create or modify rights or remedies relating to digital content. In others, the courts have had to try, with varying success, to apply old laws to new paradigms.

Some of these issues really are new, such as the outgrowth of previously uncontemplated forms of content creation or delivery. In some cases, however, the increased importance of these laws in today’s economy exposes flaws that have been present for a long time. For example, in Auscape Int’l v. National Geographic Society,[FOOTNOTE 1] a case in which the owners of photographs used in magazine articles sued over CD-ROM and database compilations containing their work, the court addressed a more basic question: When exactly does the statute of limitations begin to run for a copyright infringement action?