Oral argument: Oct. 7, 2009
Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Nov. 29, 2007)
COPYRIGHT ACT, COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT, SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION, CLASS ACTION
Freelance writers, led by Letty Cotton Pogrebin, brought a class action lawsuit against publishers, led by Reed Elsevier, Inc., for copyright infringement, claiming that the publishers electronically reproduced their works without authorization. The majority of the claims in the class related to alleged infringements of unregistered copyrights. With the approval of the District Court, the parties settled the lawsuit. The Second Circuit held, pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 411(a), that the District Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to certify a class or to approve a settlement with respect to claims arising from unregistered copyrights. The Supreme Court’s interpretation of § 411(a) will determine whether claims relating to unregistered copyrights can be settled in class actions along with claims arising from registered work. An affirmation of the Second Circuit’s opinion may make settlements more difficult.