In the 2017 case Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation v. Wall-Street.com, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that before a plaintiff can bring a claim for copyright infringement under the 1976 Copyright Act, the United States Copyright Office (“Copyright Office”) must officially review the work submitted for registration, and the Register of Copyrights (“the Register”) must accept or refuse to register it. This ruling echoed the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit’s similar finding in 2005 in La Resolana Architects, PA, v. Clay Realtors. In contrast, in 2004 and 2010, the United States Courts of Appeals for the Fifth and Ninth Circuits, respectively, held that a plaintiff may commence suit upon filing an application for copyright with the Copyright Office and is not required to wait for approval or refusal from the Register. This Comment argues that the Eleventh Circuit is incorrect in its interpretation of the 1976 Copyright Act. The Tenth and Eleventh Circuits found, incorrectly, that the statute contained plain language that unambiguously supported a complete registration approach. Further, this Comment argues that the statute upon which these holdings rely is ambiguous, and where the absence of plain, unambiguous language supports either approach, public policy and congressional intent are best served by a pro-application approach.
Emily B. Tate, No Public Benefits for Public Benefit: The Eleventh Circuit's Narrow Approach to Copyright Registration, 59 B.C.L. Rev. E. Supp. 134 (2018), http://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/bclr/vol59/iss9/8