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How long does one have to sue for copyright infringement?

| Jun 22, 2018 | Intellectual Property |

Copyrights are useful to those in New York who have created a tangible work that is of value to them when they want to protect the work from being duplicated by another. Books, pieces of art, movies and television shows are all examples of works that might be copyrighted. However, there will always be those who infringe on another person’s copyrighted work. When this happens, the person whose work was infringed upon may want to file a lawsuit. However, they only have a limited amount of time to do so.

Under the U.S. Copyright Act, when it comes to filing a lawsuit for copyright infringement, a person has three years after the accrual of the claim to file a lawsuit. Once the three years is up, a person generally can no longer file a claim. However, there are varying rules when it comes to determining when a claim begins to accrue.

One rule for determining when a claim begins to accrue is the “discovery rule.” Under this rule, accrual begins when the infringement was either discovered by the plaintiff or when a reasonable person would have discovered it. This rule is useful to those who do not immediately know about the infringement, which could happen when the defendant tries to hide it. Most courts follow this rule.

Another rule for determining when a claim begins to accrue is the “injury rule.” Under this rule, accrual begins when the infringement took place. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is one of a minority of federal courts that follow this rule. For example, one copyright infringement case in a New York district court followed this rule.

Since there can be a significant amount of value in copyrighted works, should infringement occur, it is important for plaintiffs to protect their interests. Waiting too long could bar a claim for copyright infringement, so it is important to understand when accrual will begin so one can file a lawsuit in a timely manner.

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