Seventh Circuit Notes Split Re When a Copyright Registration Application is Complete

Per Brooks-Ngwenya v. Indianapolis Public Schools, --- F.3d ----, 2009 WL 996998 (7th Cir. Apr. 15, 2009):

Compliance with the registration requirements of 17 U.S.C. § 411(a) is not a condition of copyright protection but is a prerequisite to suing for infringement. 17 U.S.C. § 411(a); Automation By Design, Inc. v. Raybestos Prods. Co., 463 F.3d 749, 752 n. 1 (7th Cir.2006). The circuits have split over whether registration is complete when an application is made or only after the Copyright Office has acted on the application. Compare Action Tapes, Inc. v. Mattson, 462 F.3d 1010, 1013 (8th Cir.2006) (application is sufficient), and Positive Black Talk Inc. v. Cash Money Records, Inc., 394 F.3d 357, 365 (5th Cir.2004) (same), with Jennette v. United States, 77 Fed.Cl. 126, 131 (2007) (action on application is required); La Resolana Architects, PA v. Clay Realtors Angel Fire, 416 F.3d 1195, 1201 (10th Cir.2005) (same); cf. Chicago Board of Education v. Substance, Inc., 354 F.3d 624, 631 (7th Cir.2003) (“an application for registration must be filed before the copyright can be sued upon”).


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