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Supreme Court Sides With Respondents in Copyright Case

On May 9, 2024, the Supreme Court sided with the respondents in a 6-3 decision in favor of an amicus brief filed in the case of Warner Chappell Music, Inc. et. al v. Nealy et. al. “The Court held that, assuming the discovery rule applies, there is no separate three-year limit on the damages a copyright plaintiff can recover under the Copyright Act,” said Attorney Nathan E. Denning, from Wiggin and Dana LLP, who filed the brief.

TAA had joined with five other author groups on the amicus brief, which was filed on January 12, 2024 in support of the respondents, and argued whether under the Copyright Act’s statute of limitations rule, and the “discovery accrual rule” plaintiffs in copyright infringement cases “can recover damages for acts that allegedly occurred more than three years before the filing of a lawsuit.” In the brief, TAA, along with The Authors Guild, The Dramatists Legal Defense Fund, The Graphic Artists Guild, The Romance Writers of America, and The Songwriters Guild of America, Inc., argue that the petitioners are focused on the wrong issue: the legitimacy of the discovery rule is not up for discussion, the only question before the Court relates to the calculation of damages under the discovery rule. In light of this fact, the amicus brief said that this case should not be before the Supreme Court at all and asked the Court to “dismiss the writ of certiorari as improvidently granted.”

“The majority assumed without deciding that the discovery rule applies to claims under the Act,” said Denning. “The dissent wrote that the Court should have dismissed the case as improvidently granted because there likely is no such discovery rule even though that question was not properly presented in this case.” There is another case pending before the Court in which the Court will likely answer the question of whether a discovery rule applies, he said.

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Read “TAA Joins Five Other Author Groups in Support of Respondents in Supreme Court Copyright Case”

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