'Catch 411:' Does Section 411 of the Copyright Act Restrict the Subject Matter Jurisdiction of Federal Courts Over Copyright Actions?
53 Pages Posted: 1 Oct 2009 Last revised: 15 Jun 2010
Date Written: September 25, 2009
This commentary examines an issue presently before the United States Supreme Court: whether 17 U.S.C. §411's registration requirement restricts the subject matter jurisdiction of the federal courts over copyright infringement actions. The Second Circuit found that courts lack jurisdiction to adjudicate claims alleging the infringement of unregistered works. The issue of whether courts have jurisdiction over such claims is of tremendous importance: The U.S.'s collective intellectual product is perhaps its greatest asset. Since unregistered works are as susceptible to mass electronic infringement as registered works, and arguably much more numerous, a decision affirming the Second Circuit would deny the country effective means of defending key IP. This commentary examines the statutes involved, arguments that have been made and the Second Circuit Opinion. It poses four solutions to §411's supposed jurisdictional conundrum and concludes that federal courts unquestionably possess jurisdiction over unregistered claims.
Keywords: copyright, registration, registered, unregistered, infringement, subject matter jurisdiction, supplemental jurisdiction, 1367, Reed Elsevier, Muchnick, Tasini, original jurisdiction, 411, primary jurisdiction
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