A federal district court held on Aug. 12 that the three-year statute of limitations for copyright infringement begins when the infringing act occurs -- not when the owner discovers the infringement.


NEW YORK -- It's time for copyright owners in New York to be vigilant, take notice of their surroundings and report suspicions about copyrighted works or infringing activities to their lawyers immediately. A federal district court held on Aug. 12 that the three-year statute of limitations for copyright infringement begins when the infringing act occurs -- not when the owner discovers the infringement.

Creating a wider split of authority within the second circuit, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York followed the analytical guidelines from a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court decision to re-assess when a cause of action accrues for copyright infringement. Reviewing prior case law, legislative history of the Copyright Act and other factors, the court held that "a claim for copyright infringement accrues on the date of the infringement."

For a case analysis of the court's opinion in Auscape International v. National Geographic Society, see The Fine Print.