On August 31, the U.S. Copyright Office published its long-awaited study on state sovereign immunity in copyright cases. The report, requested last year by Senators Thom Tills (R-NC) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), finds that although there are multiple documented cases of alleged infringement by state entities that undoubtedly hurt copyright owners, the Office is not certain whether the record would be found sufficient to support abrogation of sovereign immunity under Supreme Court precedent. However, the report notes that the Office supports congressional action on the issue and that there may be other ways to address the problem besides full abrogation. The report comes following the Supreme Court’s decision last year in Allen v. Cooper, where the Court found that the Copyright Remedy Clarification Act, passed in 1990 to abrogate sovereign immunity in copyright cases, was unconstitutional due in part to an insufficient record to support abrogation. Senators Tillis and Leahy requested the study in order to find out if there would be enough evidence to support new legislation on the issue. Read more about the study here.
Johannes Munter is an outside consultant for the News/Media Alliance.