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Copyright Act Case Addresses Whether Registration Requirement is Jurisdictional

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By FindLaw Staff on March 02, 2010 6:24 PM

Reed Elsevier, Inc. v. Muchnick, 08-103, involved a class action alleging copyright infringement, in which the Court of Appeals vacated a settlement class certification order for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

As the Court wrote:  "In this case, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that a copyright holder's failure to comply with [17 U.S.C.] section 411(a)'s registration requirement deprives a federal court of jurisdiction to adjudicate his copyright infringement claim. We disagree. Section 411(a)'s registration requirement is a precondition to filing a claim that does not restrict a federal court's subject-matter jurisdiction."

The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, although 17 U.S.C. section 411(a)'s registration requirement is a precondition to filing a copyright infringement claim, a copyright holder's failure to comply with that requirement does not restrict a federal court's subject matter jurisdiction over infringement claims involving unregistered works.

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