by Nicole Pottinger, University of Kentucky College of Law & Brian L. Frye, University of Kentucky College of Law
from Volume 8 (2018-2019)
Under the Copyright Act, copyright owners can file infringement actions only if registration of their copyright claim with the Copyright Office “has been made” or “has been refused.” The United States Supreme Court recently granted certiorari in Fourth Estate v. Wall-Street.com, in order to decide whether registration is “made” when a claimant files a registration application or when the Copyright Office registers the claim.
This article argues that the Court should hold that registration occurs when the Copyright Office registers the claim, in order to ensure that federal courts can benefit from the expertise of the Copyright Office. The Copyright Office recently began publishing the opinions of Copyright Office Review Board. This article uses those administrative opinions to show how the Copyright Office has developed the concepts of “originality” and “creativity” in ways that are helpful to the federal courts. It concludes with an Appendix listing the Copyright Office Review Board opinions addressing originality and explaining the basis for each decision.