Copyright owners must have a copyright registration from the U.S. Copyright Office, not merely an application pending, before they can sue for infringement, a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday, resolving a long-standing circuit split.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the court, said the U.S. Copyright Act does not allow a lawsuit to be filed until a “registration ... has been made,” and the term “registration” refers to an action by the U.S. Copyright Office, not the applicant. She upheld a 2017 ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that news organization Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp could not sue financial information website Wall-Street.com for copyright infringement because its copyright had not been registered.
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