The Requirement for a Copyright Registration: A Missed Opportunity

March 2010 – Article

On March 2, 2010, the Supreme Court, in Reed Elsevier, Inc. v. Muchnick, held that the requirement of a registration pursuant to the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 411(a) as a precondition for filing an infringement suit does not restrict a federal court’s subject matter jurisdiction to decide the dispute. While the Supreme Court’s ruling was a welcome relief to those parties seeking to uphold an $18 million settlement, the Court missed the opportunity to resolve a long-standing disagreement among the lower federal courts regarding the necessity of a copyright registration for a United States work prior to the initiation of an infringement lawsuit.