On November 14, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held, in Wilson v. Dynatone Publishing Co., that copyright registration alone is not enough to trigger accrual of an ownership claim. In so doing, the Second Circuit concluded that mere registration does not put a rational and attentive copyright owner on notice of adverse claims. The Second Circuit determined that holding otherwise would impose an onerous and impractical burden on authors to investigate the Copyright Office registry continuously to insure against registered illegitimate claims of authorship. Furthermore, the Second Circuit reasoned that such a holding would run counter to the purpose of § 205 of the Copyright Act. Thus, the Second Circuit joined the Third, Sixth, and Seventh Circuits in a split from the First Circuit, which interpreted § 205(c) to mean that registration is enough to put others on constructive notice of the author’s ownership. As a result of the First Circuit’s ruling, an author would be time-barred from asserting competing claims more than three years after another registered for sole ownership. This Comment argues that the Second Circuit’s approach is correct because it furthers the legislative intent of the Copyright Act and distinguishes the unique facts of the First Circuit case. The Second Circuit’s approach also promotes the protections of the copyright registration system by encouraging authors to register their creative works, while not imposing unrealistic obligations upon copyright owners that actually could deter registration.
Rachel Weiss, I’m Bringing Notice Back: Registration Alone Is Not Enough to Prompt Accrual of a Copyright Claim, 61 B.C.L. Rev. E.Supp. II.-50 (2020), https://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/bclr/vol61/iss9/10