Seventh Circuit: Notice requirement to Copyright Office when registration refused not jurisdictional
In a recent decision, the Seventh Circuit affirmed a district court's grant of summary judgment that a plaintiff could not prevail in her copyright claim. The court first addressed whether the plaintiff complied with the necessary procedural requirements to have her claim heard. The plaintiff had filed for a copyright registration and had been rejected (thereby satisfying part of the requirements of § 411). However, when filing suit, she did not notify the Copyright Office she was doing so, and thus did not meet this second requirement applicable to those who bring suit after being refused registration.
This fact notwithstanding, the Seventh Circuit concluded it could hear the case, given the plaintiff had her registration refused. The court characterized the notification requirement as a case processing rule, and observed the copyright office had granted a registration in the interim, and thus the purpose of the notification requirement (to permit the Copyright Office to address the issue of registrability) was satisfied.
On the merits, the court noted the plaintiff's claim failed because she did not allege copying of any of the actual materials protected by copyright, but rather her ideas for better educating students. The court affirmed the long standing rule that copyright protection does not extend to ideas, but rather the original expression of an idea.
More detail of Brooks-Ngwenya v. Indianapolis Pub. Sch. after the jump.