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On March 4, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court issued two unanimous decisions interpreting the Copyright Act.

In Fourth Estate Public Benefit v. Wall-Street.com, 586 U.S. ___, the court resolved a circuit split over when a plaintiff has the ability to bring a copyright infringement suit. The court held that “registration … has been made” under 17 U.S.C. §411(a)—and thus an infringement lawsuit may be commenced—only once the Copyright Office processes and accepts the registration application for a work. In so ruling, the Supreme Court expressly rejected the position adopted by some circuit courts that “registration” can be satisfied by the mere act of submitting a complete application to the Copyright Office.

 

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