559 U.S. 154 (2010), 08-103, Reed Elsevier, Inc. v. Muchnick

Docket Nº:08-103.
Citation:559 U.S. 154, 130 S.Ct. 1237, 176 L.Ed.2d 18, 78 U.S.L.W. 4176
Opinion Judge:Thomas, Justice.
Party Name:REED ELSEVIER, INC., et al., Petitioners, v. Irvin MUCHNICK et al.
Attorney:Charles S. Sims, New York, NY, for petitioners. Ginger Anders for the United States as amicus curiae, by special leave of the Court, supporting the petitioners. Deborah Jones Merritt, appointed by this Court, as amicus curiae, supporting the judgment below. Justice Sotomayor recused. Michael J. B...
Judge Panel:Thomas, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C. J., and Scalia, Kennedy, and Alito, JJ., joined. Ginsburg, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, in which Stevens and Breyer, JJ., joined. Sotomayor, J., took no part in the consideration or dec...
Case Date:March 02, 2010
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 154

559 U.S. 154 (2010)

130 S.Ct. 1237, 176 L.Ed.2d 18, 78 U.S.L.W. 4176

REED ELSEVIER, INC., et al., Petitioners,

v.

Irvin MUCHNICK et al.

No. 08-103.

United States Supreme Court

March 2, 2010

Argued October 7, 2009.

ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT.

[176 L.Ed.2d 22] [130 S.Ct. 1239] Syllabus [*]

The Copyright Act (Act) generally requires copyright holders to register their works before suing for copyright infringement. 17 U.S.C. A. §411(a). The complaint in this consolidated, class-action copyright in­fringement suit alleged that the named plaintiffs each own at least one copyright, typically in a freelance article written for a newspaper or magazine, that they had registered in accordance with §411(a). The class, however, included both authors who had registered their works and authors who had not. The parties moved the District Court to certify a settlement class and approve a settlement agree­ment. The District Court did so over the objections of some freelance authors. On appeal, the Second Circuit sua sponte raised the ques­tion whether §411(a) deprives federal courts of subject-matter juris­diction over infringement claims involving unregistered copyrights, concluding that the District Court lacked jurisdiction to certify the class or approve the settlement.

Held:

Section 411(a)'s registration requirement is a precondition to fil­ing a copyright infringement claim. A [176 L.Ed.2d 23] copyright holder's failure to comply with that requirement does not restrict a federal court's subject-matter jurisdiction over infringement claims involving unregis­tered works, Pp. 1243-1249, 176 L.Ed.2d, at 26-33.

(a) "Jurisdiction" refers to "a court's adjudicatory authority," Kontrick v. Ryan, 540 U.S. 443, 455, 124 S.Ct. 906, 157 L.Ed.2d 867. Thus, "jurisdictional" properly applies only to "prescriptions delineating the classes of cases (subject-matter jurisdiction) and the persons (personal jurisdiction)" implicat­ing that authority. Ibid. Because the distinction between jurisdictional conditions and claim-processing rules can be confusing in practice, federal courts and litigants should use the term "jurisdictional" only when it is apposite. Ibid. A statutory requirement is considered jurisdictional if Congress "clearly states that [it] count[s] as jurisdictional"; a condition "not rank[ed]" as such should be treated "as non-jurisdictional in character." Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 515-516, 126 S.Ct. 1235, 163 L.Ed.2d 1097. In Arbaugh, the Court held that the employee-numerosity coverage requirement of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was not a jurisdictional requirement because the provision did not "clearly stat[e]" that the numerosity rule counted as jurisdictional, this Court's prior Title VII cases did not

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compel the conclusion that the rule nonetheless was jurisdictional, and the requirement's loca­tion in a provision separate from Title VII's jurisdiction-granting sec­tion indicated that Congress had not ranked the rule as jurisdictional. Pp. 1243 -1245, 176 L.Ed.2d, at 26-28.

(b) Like the Title VII numerosity requirement in Arbaugh, § 411(a) does not "clearly stat[e]" that its registration requirement is "jurisdictional." 546 U.S., at 515, 126 S.Ct. 1235, 163 L.Ed.2d 1097 . Although § 411(a)'s last sentence contains the word "jurisdiction," that sentence speaks to a court's adjudicatory authority to determine a copyright claim's registrability and says nothing about whether a federal court has subject-matter jurisdiction to adjudicate claims for infringement of unregistered works. More­over, §411(a)'s registration requirement, like Title VII's employee-numerosity [130 S.Ct. 1240] requirement, is located in a provision "separate from those granting federal courts subject-matter jurisdiction over those respective claims, ibid., and no other factor suggests that §411(a)'s registration requirement can be read to " 'speak in jurisdictional terms or refer in any way to the jurisdiction of the district courts,' " ibid. This conclusion is not affected by the fact that the employee-numerosity requirement in Arbaugh was considered an element of a Title VII claim rather than a prerequisite to initiating a lawsuit. See Zipes v. Trans World Airlines, Inc., 455 U.S. 385, 393, 102 S.Ct. 1127, 71 L.Ed.2d 234. Pp. 1245-1247, 176 L.Ed.2d, at 28-30.

(c) A contrary result is not required by Bowles v. Russell, 551 U.S. 205, 127 S.Ct. 2360, 168 L.Ed.2d 96. There, in finding that Congress had ranked as jurisdictional 28 U.S.C. § 2107's requirement that parties in a civil action file a notice of appeal within 30 days of the judgment, this Court analyzed § 2107's specific language and the historical treatment accorded to that type of limitation. That analysis is consistent with the Arbaugh framework because context is relevant to whether a statute [176 L.Ed.2d 24] "rank[s]" a requirement as jurisdictional. Pp. 1247-1248, 176 L.Ed.2d, at 30-32.

(d) The Court declines to apply judicial estoppel to affirm the Sec­ond Circuit's judgment vacating the settlement. While some of peti­tioners' arguments below are in tension with those made in this Court, accepting their arguments here does not create the type of "in­consistent court determinations" in their favor that estoppel is meant to address. See New Hampshire v. Maine, 532 U.S. 742, 121 S.Ct. 1808, 149 L.Ed.2d 968. Pp. 1248 -1249, 176 L.Ed.2d, at 32-33.

(e) Because §411(a) does not restrict a federal court's subject- matter jurisdiction, this Court need not address the question whether the District Court had authority to approve the settlement under the Second Circuit's erroneous reading of §411. The Court also declines to decide whether §411(a)'s registration requirement is a mandatory precondition to suit that district courts may or should enforce sua sponte by dismissing

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copyright infringement claims involving un­registered works. P. 1249, Pp. 170-171, 176 L.Ed.2d, at 33.

509 F.3d 116, reversed and remanded.

Charles S. Sims argued the cause for petitioners.

Ginger Anders argued the cause for the United States as amicus curiae, by special leave of the Court, supporting the petitioners.

Deborah Jones Merritt, appointed by this Court, as amicus curiae, supporting the judgment below. Justice Sotomayor recused.

Michael J. Boni, Counsel of Record, Joanne Zack, Joshua D. Snyder, Boni & Zack LLC, Bala Cynwyd, PA, for respondents Letty Cottin Pogrebin.

Diane S. Rice, Hosie Rice LLP, San Francisco, CA, A.J. De Bartolomeo, Girard Gibbs LLP, San Francisco, CA, Gary S. Fergus, Fergus, A Law Office, San Francisco, CA, Robert J. LaRocca, George W. Croner, Kohn Swift & Graf, P.C., Philadelphia, PA, for respondents.

David Nimmer, Irell & Manella LLP, Los Angeles, CA, Charles S. Sims, Counsel of Record, Jon A. Baumgarten, Mark D. Harris, Anna G. Kaminska, Proskauer Rose LLP, New York, NY, for petitioners.

[130 S.Ct. 1241] Henry B. Gutman, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, New York, NY, for petitioner Dow Jones Reuters Business Interactive LLC, d/b/a Factiva.

James L. Hallowell, Richard A. Bierschbach, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, New York, NY, for petitioners Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

Ian Ballon, Greenberg Traurig LLP, Santa Monica, CA, for petitioners Knight-Ridder, Inc., Knight Ridder Digital, and Mediastream, Inc.

Matthew W. Walch, Latham & Watkins, Chicago, IL, for petitioner ProQuest Company.

Michael S. Denniston, Bradley Arant, Boult & Cummings LLP, Birmingham, AL, for petitioner EBSCO Industries, Inc.

Pamela S. Karlan, Jeffrey L. Fisher, Stanford Law School, Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, Stanford, CA, Charles D. Chalmers, Counsel of Record, Fairfax, CA, Amy Howe, Kevin K. Russell Howe & Russell, P.C., Bethesda, MD, for Muchnick respondents.

Thomas, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C. J., and Scalia, Kennedy, and Alito, JJ., joined. Ginsburg, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, in which Stevens and Breyer, JJ., joined, post; p. 171. Sotomayor, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

OPINION

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[130 S.Ct. 1241]Thomas, Justice.

Subject to certain exceptions, the Copyright Act (Act) requires copyright holders to register their works before suing for copyright infringement. 17 U.S.C. A. §411(a) (2006 ed., Supp. 2009). In this case, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that a copyright holder's failure to comply with §411(a)'s registration requirement deprives a federal court of jurisdiction to adjudicate his copyright infringement claim. We disagree. Section 411(a)'s regis­tration requirement is a precondition to filing a claim that does not restrict a federal court's subject-matter jurisdiction.

I

A

The Constitution grants Congress the power "[t]o pro­mote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors . . . the exclusive Right to . . . their . . . Writings." Art. I, § 8, cl. 8. Exercising this power, Congress has crafted a comprehensive statutory scheme governing the existence and scope of "[c]opyright protec­tion" for "original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression." 17 U.S.C. §102(a) (2006 ed.). This scheme gives copyright owners "the exclusive rights" (with specified statutory exceptions) to distribute, reproduce, or publicly perform their works. §106. "Anyone who violates any of the exclusive rights of the copyright owner as pro­vided" in the Act "is an infringer of the copyright." §501(a). When such infringement occurs, a copyright owner "is entitled, subject to the requirements of section 411, to institute an...

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