ASMP — American Society of Media Photographers

Decision in Fourth Estate Spurs Senate Action

By March 19, 2019 March 21st, 2019 Copyright Reform, Legal, Small Claims Report

Cross-posted from

If you have read my previous blog posts on the recent US Supreme Court Decision in Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v., LLC (see here and here), you know that I have been concerned with how that decision would affect copyright applications and the impact on claimants ability to take legal action.

While my immediate response remains negative, a recent letter to the Acting Registrar of Copyrights Karyn Temple, signed by Senators Thom Tillis (R – North Carolina) and Christopher Coons (D – Delaware), offer a glimmer of a silver lining to the decision’s dark cloud.

In the letter, the two Senators note that this decision relies on the prompt review and approval of copyrights by the office. It further notes that on average the Copyright Office is taking at least six months for processing applications, and that this time period offers significant opportunity for infringement to take place without recourse to a judicial remedy.

The missive goes on to ask the Copyright Office to answer a series of questions to which the Senators have requested a response by April 14, 2019. Most of the questions ask for information as to how the Copyright Office will modernize and ensure more rapid application processing.

I will be closely watching for the answers the Copyright Office provides, but I am quite heartened that two Senators who have long been involved in copyright matters, and come from different political parties have taken a specific interest in this case and this matter. While there is often a logjam in Congress related to copyright issues (see The CASE Act), this letter offers hope on one of the most vexing issues for copyright applicants. Stay tuned…

Thomas Maddrey is counsel for ASMP.  Read more of his blog posts about copyright and other legal topics at maddreypllc.


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