Does the Discovery Rule Apply to Copyright Infringement?

In Urbont v. Sony Music Entertainment, No. 11 Civ. 4516 (S.D.N.Y. March 27, 2012), the federal District Court for the Southern District of New York was presented with the question of whether the discovery rule applies to causes of action under the Copyright Act.

The discovery rule allows parties to extend a statute of limitations because they did not have reason to know, nor did they know, that they had a potential cause of action.  In this case, application of the discovery rule would have extended the three (3) year statute of limitations under the Copyright Act for infringement.

The court determined that the discovery rule would not apply here because there was no evidence of material concealment of the fraud that led to the alleged infringement.  Instead, the plaintiff had complete access to all the information necessary to determine that an infringement had taken place, and he had simply not brought his cause of action within the applicable period.

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