Supreme Court Holds That Only Certain Costs May Be Recovered In Copyright Lawsuits

Today, the Supreme Court unanimously held that Section 505 of the Copyright Act, which allows prevailing copyright litigants to recover their “full costs,” does not authorize recovery of costs beyond those specified in 28 U.S.C. § 1920, the general statute authorizing district courts to award “taxable” costs.

Background: Oracle USA sued Rimini Street, a provider of third-party software-maintenance services, for infringing various Oracle copyrights. A jury found Rimini Street liable for copyright infringement. The district court ordered Rimini Street to pay Oracle attorney’s fees, taxable costs, and $12.8 million for other litigation expenses (including expert witness and discovery costs). These litigation expenses are not covered by 28 U.S.C. § 1920, the general statute authorizing federal courts to award “taxable” costs to prevailing parties; that statute authorizes only the award of six enumerated categories of costs, including various court fees, certain transcript and printing costs, costs of court-appointed experts, and certain costs regarding interpreters. The district court thus rested its award of litigation expenses on Section 505 of the Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. § 505), which provides that a district court may “allow the recovery of full costs” to a prevailing party, along with “a reasonable attorney’s fee.” The Ninth Circuit affirmed the award of litigation expenses, holding that the term “full costs” in Section 505 is not limited to the categories of costs specifically enumerated in 28 U.S.C. § 1920. ..Read More..

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