Supreme Court Copyright Decision

The National Law Review posted an article today,

To a non-lawyer like me it looks like artists will no longer have automatic copyrights for our artwork. The interesting paragraph is this one, bold font is me:

The Fourth Estate decision joins several other incentives that encourage the prompt filing of copyright applications. In addition to other remedies, copyright law allows for “statutory damages” of up to $150,000 per work infringed upon, and also provides for the possibility of attorney fees being awarded to a prevailing party. However, these remedies are only available when an owner applies for registration either within 90 days of first publication of the work or before the infringement begins. If a copyright application for a published work is not filed until after the infringement begins, these statutory damages are unavailable, and attorney fees cannot be awarded.

If I’m correct, what does this do for all of the art that is posted online before this decision? If everything moving forward must be registered, what’s the cost to file? If we don’t file, is artwork just up for grabs for whoever takes it? I have no idea.

I think we need to wait for more info, as I do not know if this is intended to be more than just a measure to crack down on the tons of copyright infringement claims that plague tech. companies and clog the court system.

If this is as a big deal as you think it is, then it would be surprising as there’s not a single media outlet online or offline that even mentions this.

That’s what I kind of thought, to me it looks huge, but I’ve seen nothing else about it. I have a friend who is a lawyer and I saw this article posted on his social media. When I asked him if that changes the current way of granting artists copyright, he said yes it does. But…he’s not an IP lawyer so I’m taking his comment with a grain of salt.

Very curious to see how this shakes out.

Most of the time something before a new ruling will keep under the old rule. This is why if you were arrested for dealing drugs then those drugs became legal to deal you would stay in prison. You couldn’t even apply for a new trial.

For all new works it sounds like you have to apply for registration. This is going to cause a ton of paper work if everyone applies which is what I think we should do and makes it so anyone can grab undeclared new works. Sounds like a great deal for big cooporations so I’d say it is real.

We need to flood the system with applications so they can take this away as fast as possible.

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That is providing…

  1. The companies know when the work is declared, people do most of their stuff offline, so the only way for the date of completion to be known is if you did it on cloud-connected software or you placed the date as part of the watermark.
  2. That most independent artists are already capable of addressing any un-authorized posting of their work on any website by someone anywhere in the world. Chances are a lot of BA work could already be circulating in China or some other country (but we have no idea who is doing it or where it is posted). The exception is if you’re very well known, which means other people reporting to you.

Actually, in the United States it is extremely simple: provides real-time registration, “effective immediately,” for $35.00 (USD) per “collection.”

A “collection” consists of (IIRC …) up to 100 separate works, which are registered at the same time, for one price. The concept of “a collection” is purely administrative, to keep our loyal civil servants from revolting: copyright protection is immediately and severally applied to every work.

The web site gives you immediate time-stamped confirmation of your registration, which is legally binding at once, no matter how long it takes the Office to mail you your pretty certificate.

Whether we want to invoke the “Doctrine of Laches” or simply, “Mind your P’s and Q’s,” it really comes down to this:

It’s a very cheap thirty-five dollars . . . spend it.


Basically, with registration others will “protect and serve” - do hunting, suing, punishment & execution for you & in your name - otherwise you’re on your own. No tolerance. Welcome to further promoting and enforcing hell on the rest of the world.
Similar to what capital economy does to the rest - invading countries pretending to liberate them from evil but instead exploit natural resources for selfish profit and idiotic quasi-nation.
Know your established, demonic country!

Going down is easier than even standing firm… who ever bothers reaching heights nowadays, eh?
Nevermind, the rest will follow.

Finally, it will come to automation of the system - then, who ever places “work” first, takes the prize and others can simply stay shut. Even, if stolen.


Well, US Copyright law has always depended on “registration.” (Some countries don’t even offer it, which is why so many works are registered here, even when used primarily elsewhere.) If you don’t register, your rights are substantially weakened. But, this has always been the case.

So, you plunk down your $35.00 on-line and register 100 works at once, at a net cost of 35¢ apiece, and your registration is legally effective immediately. Frankly, it’s dumb not to. If this is your business, or even “paying hobby,” it’s simply a step that you always, timely, take.

A registered copyright, to me, is like the certificate of title to a car: it is an independently verifiable attestation of your claim that “I own this. I didn’t steal it. I am entitled to sell it.” If you want to peddle a piece of music, for instance, they are going to ask you for your copyright registration number, and they are going to go on-line to check it, before they’ll seriously give you the time-of-day. That’s called “due diligence,” or, “covering your corporate ass.” … :smiley:

YouTube, SoundCloud, and so on, of course might do the same thing for the same reasons. Someone challenges your work and the company immediately does what the law requires: they inform you they’re going to do a take-down unless you can prove you had the right to post it. “Why, yes I do – US Copyright registration #123456, registered BEFORE the work was posted.” They go on-line, find the number, see that you are telling the truth, and the matter is conclusively settled. They can see it for themselves. Your work doesn’t get taken down, because everyone’s legal ass is covered, including yours. They’ve got a permanent record of their “due diligence,” which effectively shields them from any charge of “contributory infringement.” (If you committed perjury by making a false claim, that’s your prison-sentence not theirs.)

“Mind your P’s and Q’s” when it comes to the Law. Spend the pittance that it takes to enjoy its full protection … and, verifiability.

Copyright law is designed to be ferocious. It’s a big, bad pack of dogs that are fighting for your rights as a creator. So, in order for your work to be exhibited and/or sold in public, you must establish proof that everybody’s ass is covered and those dogs won’t bite. And in the USA that costs $35.00 per “collection.”


$35 per collection is much more appealing than what I assumed to be $35 a pop.

Here’s how I understand it. A work is not really registered until it is approved.

It was always advised to register (apply for registration) before suing anyone for infringment if you wanted to win. Evidence. I knew this already. All the songs gathering dust in my desk are registered. It’s easy and inexpensive to do as mentioned above. The evidence angle is where the old (bad) advice came from about sending yourself a copy through the mail instead of actually getting it registered.

Registering and being approved has always been required before you can be awarded damages.

Whether you had to be registered and approved or just waiting for approval before beginning a lawsuit was what this case was about. Lawyers have been shopping for the latter. Applied but not approved was good enough to start a lawsuit in some places. Approval was only necessary to be awarded damages.

Now it’s settled. The work has to be registered and approved before beginning lidigation.

I haven’t looked into it but I’m not sure about Sundial’s post above. I think that’s still just applying for registration. It’s not approved till you get a letter saying it is. That’s what takes months and that is what the big stink is about. You cannot start litigation until your registration is approved.

Of course I could be wrong but that’s how it’s being explained at the legal sites I visited. Sorry this post is rushed and messy. I’m sure I’ve got some terminology wrong here and there. That’s always a problem of course. Legalese.


tl;dr; registering allows you to claim statutory damage beyond every other damage. Your copyright still stands (having you supposedly created an original work of art…)

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Greetings everyone, just a thought though I am a NON LAWYER , I am a Certified
Paralegal and my personal interpretation of this is much deeper than that, suppose
you are an inventor and you invent a widget, any widget, be it a art work on the net or
something you developed in your garage to produce and sell to the public at a later
date. The base Idea is correct according to my read and the above it amounts to
everyone applying to the Copyright & Patent and Trademark office and appears to
create more work and revenue to this cottage industry of the law , further is provides
the legal base for your idea ,intellectual property or widget to be legally stolen
if you fail to fallow the ruling , If your work appears in public under the ruling not registering it makes it fare game to anyone that sees it .as I said I am not a lawyer but I’m just saying. It doesn’t mean it will, but if some big company thinks they can make a buck they most surely will and I would point out that not everyone has the money to apply for every single idea, in fact few could afford the accumulated cost of this. It is in essence a huge boost to economic opportunism and a stab in the heart of intellectual freedom.
The law and any legal designation or disposition is based in legal words and terms see : West-law , Nexus ,Blacks Law Dictionary hence every decision must be read word for word and every word researched for word meaning and legislative history, IE legislative intent and previously decided cases also known as Star-daises,( Latin for what has come before ) also known in that business as keywords and precedent , in this case the keywords are ( registered until it is approved ) and make no mistake that will mean registered and approved to be legally binding. In any event this is a Supreme Court Ruling and will be binding on every court in the land regarding this issue. If you view this ruling in lite of the deregulation of the net neutrality rules , all you have to do is a search to realize the further monetizing of every aspect of our life’s and this is just a continuation of that philosophy , I agree with another poster here , flood them with pending registrations it did not work for net neutrality , money talks but one can hope , but be sure if push comes to shove (Corporate America has more money & Lawyers & Lobbyist and a very friendly Supreme Court ) than you and when it comes to money … , by the way the previous rule only required that you mark your work as copyright and ID yourself , as in [email protected]\namehere ,posted on the bottom of the work and it was automatically assume to be the intellectual property of the originating author and protected , and lastly look at the plaintiff and defendant , this case has camel nose under the tent written all over it and was clearly filed and decided to give wall-street and other moneyed interest an advantage , to believe they wont make use if it is naive . slightly_frowning_face:


Indeed and not just that… it’s a cottage dream come true, that’s why it’s so cheap to sell soul :wink: Ppl are ignorant unwilling to understand or even comprehend the inner workings of intellectual capitalists. Read Zola sometimes.

IANAL/TINLA, but: the thing that bugs me about variation on “you can do a hundred online for $35, it’s a pittance, what’r’ya complaining about?!?” is that most of us don’t store up a hundred artworks and then post them all at once – we make and post, one at a time. This seems to mean any artwork we don’t want stolen we now need to pay $35 for proof it’s ours before we post it. We can get a bunch in for that $35 if we’ve got 'em ready, but if we don’t it’s either $35 a pop or don’t post it, because if you do anybody with $35 can legally steal it and claim it as their own. This looks to seriously change . . . huh, the vast majority of how we communicate online going forward. It’s a silencing tactic, effectively putting a $35 fee on communicating in any tangible form (which is pretty much the internet).

If it means this – I don’t speak legalese, and the people who do don’t seem to be reaching this conclusion. Yet.


Also, for example, let me produce/generate a millions of variations (architectural, music, visual artworks) with the machine and register the whole set for $35. Then i’ll just seat back, relax and let the Devil do the work for me… because I own it! The IP concept is corrupt from the start. That was/is the problem of the West side, privileged to be literate - to know the Word and it’s meaning. In the name of the Rose. Save, liberate yourselves.

Splash! I thought this too but decided to stay on the shallow end of the pool. Was trying not to get too far in over my head. Thanks.

This was posted on CGTalk as well, and someone made a well-written post on why this may not be such a big deal for people who post their work.

Supposedly, it deals with losing the ability to claim a certain type of damage if you don’t register your work and not losing your ability to have said work copyrighted to your name. Still, the verdict is heavy on legalize so anyone who didn’t go to law school may not be fully accurate.


This is not a reply to any post above.

It’s not so much whether you actually own the work or not but can you prove it. I mentioned the “send a copy to yourself” tactic. Yeah it’s evidence but that can be challenged by “experts”. Is it legit? Is the date stamp legit? Has the envelope been tampered with? Etc etc. If you don’t have the money to bring in your own experts to counter their experts you lose. That’s why sending a copy to yourself and not registering is bad advice. A government record is harder to challenge.

There’s another side to this case. You could use a bogus lawsuit to shut down a competitor for a length of time without needing a registration. On the net this can break the competition and cause a windfall for your biz in a short time. It can destroy your competitor’s momentum. You could withdraw after a few weeks and the damage is already done. You win. So there’s at least one reason this decision may do good.

Btw if you find this stuff fascinating look into the madness going on in the Amazon retail biz. There’s all kinds of devious trickery going on there. Lawless because copyright and fraud law is all you’ve got to defend yourself with. Those laws are almost totally useless especially because the players are from many nations. Amazon will never get on top of it as long as the money keeps rolling in.


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How does this apply across borders? If a piece of work is created in Europe, and someone steals it and sells it in America, what rights does the original artist have then?

What about original files, blend files with timestamps, camera raw files, etc? Are those actual evidence?

And even more important:
what about creators who don’t know of this legislation / court decision, don’t speak English, can’t afford to pay 35$ because they live in low-income countries …?

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