2019 IP Law Year in Review: Copyrights

By , and on February 27, 2020
Posted In Copyrights

Executive Summary

In many ways, copyright jurisprudence in 2019 was a study in contrasts. While certain cases represented a “back to basics” approach, answering fundamental questions such as “When can a copyright owner sue for copyright infringement?” and “What costs can a prevailing copyright owner recover?,” others addressed thorny issues involving fair use and the first sale doctrine.

In the wake of several pivotal copyright decisions involving the music industry in 2018, such as the watershed “Blurred Lines” verdict, disputes involving music continued to provide fuel for the courts to weigh in on copyright this year. As we look to 2020, all eyes will be on the Supreme Court and its decision in the epic battle between Google and Oracle and the protectability of software. This report provides a summary of 2019’s important copyright decisions with the hopes of assisting those navigating copyright infringement and enforcement issues in the coming year.


  1. Copyright Registration – A Prerequisite to a Copyright Infringement Suit
  2. Copyright Infringement – Costs and Damages
  3. Music – First Sale Doctrine, Fair Use and Protectability
  4. Google v. Oracle – Copyright Battle of the Tech Titans

2020 Outlook

As we look to 2020, we expect that, in addition to the Supreme Court’s hotly anticipated decision in Google v. Oracle, software and technology disputes will continue to yield decisions on such important issues as licensing and the first use doctrine.

In addition to Google v. Oracle, the Supreme Court is poised to weigh in on two other copyright cases involving state sovereign immunity and whether state and local governments may charge fees for access to legal texts. Finally, in the age of mashups and memes, we expect courts to continue to wrestle with when use is “transformative” and thus protected under the doctrine of fair use.

Read full report.

Jodi Benassi
Jodi Benassi focuses her practice on litigation and investigations. Jodi has experience in federal court district actions in California, Texas, Florida and Michigan and actions before the US Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) of the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). She has also conducted internal investigations on behalf of audit committees from high profile Fortune 500 organizations to Silicon Valley start-ups. Jodi Benassi's full bio.

Mary Hallerman
Mary Hallerman focuses her practice on trademark, trade dress, false advertising, and copyright litigation and counseling. Mary represents clients in high-stakes cases in federal courts throughout the United States and before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. An emerging leader in the Firm’s respected trademark and copyright practice, Mary plays a significant role in case strategy and management. She has prepared numerous complaints, motions for preliminary injunction and ex parte temporary restraining orders, discovery motions and dispositive motions. She works frequently with expert witnesses, supervises discovery, and leads trial and evidentiary hearing preparation. Mary regularly works with clients in managing domain name portfolios, taking down infringing domains and fraudulent websites through UDRP proceedings or other enforcement methods, assessing litigation risks, reviewing advertising copy, and performing due diligence concerning trademark, copyright, false advertising, and unfair competition matters in corporate transactions. Read Mary Hallerman's full bio.

Paul Devinsky
Paul Devinsky advises clients on patent, trademark and trademark litigation and counseling, as well as copyright counseling. He is also active in intellectual property (IP) licensing, transactions and due diligence, as well as post-issuance US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) proceedings such as reissues and inter partes review, covered business method patent review and post grant review, and appellate (Federal Circuit) advocacy. Read Paul Devinsky's full bio.