In many ways, copyright jurisprudence in 2019 was a study in contrasts. While certain cases represented a “back to basics” approach, answering fundamental questions such as “When can a copyright owner sue for copyright infringement?” and “What costs can a prevailing copyright owner recover?,” others addressed thorny issues involving fair use and the first sale doctrine.
In the wake of several pivotal copyright decisions involving the music industry in 2018, such as the watershed “Blurred Lines” verdict, disputes involving music continued to provide fuel for the courts to weigh in on copyright this year. As we look to 2020, all eyes will be on the Supreme Court and its decision in the epic battle between Google and Oracle and the protectability of software. This report provides a summary of 2019’s important copyright decisions with the hopes of assisting those navigating copyright infringement and enforcement issues in the coming year.
- Copyright Registration – A Prerequisite to a Copyright Infringement Suit
- Copyright Infringement – Costs and Damages
- Music – First Sale Doctrine, Fair Use and Protectability
- Google v. Oracle – Copyright Battle of the Tech Titans
As we look to 2020, we expect that, in addition to the Supreme Court’s hotly anticipated decision in Google v. Oracle, software and technology disputes will continue to yield decisions on such important issues as licensing and the first use doctrine.
In addition to Google v. Oracle, the Supreme Court is poised to weigh in on two other copyright cases involving state sovereign immunity and whether state and local governments may charge fees for access to legal texts. Finally, in the age of mashups and memes, we expect courts to continue to wrestle with when use is “transformative” and thus protected under the doctrine of fair use.