Friday, November 4, 2011

Where, Or Where, Did The Copyright Litigation Go?

The federal litigation statistics published by the Office of U.S. Courts reveals striking information about the litigation climate for copyrights -- it's disappearing. For several years now, the number of filed copyright cases has been dwindling. The following table contains new copyright litigation filing data from U.S. Courts statistics for the past five years (no stats yet for 2011). There has been a consistent reduction in the number of new copyright cases filed with the federal courts during that time, representing a cumulative drop in new filings since 2006 of 63.85%.

New Copyright Cases Filed
% Change From Prior Year
Five year change


There may be different reasons for this trend, but the U.S. Copyright Office believes that the cost of copyright litigation, particularly for the small litigant, is one significant contributing factor. As a result, the Copyright Office is undertaking a study of the possibility of establishing a small claims resolution process for certain copyright claims. Possibilities include establishing a small claims department within the federal courts, providing for a small claims procedure through the Copyright Office, or some other small claims process. The Copyright Office wants to hear from interested persons on this issue. Its website provides information on this study, together with a link to provide comment. The comment period runs through January 16, 2012.

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