August 2012

One of the thorny issues that comes up in copyright cases is whether a dispute actually falls under federal copyright law.  What the plaintiff may claim to be copyright infringement the defendant may argue is a breach of contract, or vice versa. If copyright law does control, any state law claim based on rights that are the equivalent of those protected by the Copyright Act are preempted, and must be dismissed. A common example is breach of contract: if copyright law applies, a claim for breach of contract is likely to be preempted.

The consequences of a ruling one way or the other on this issue can have strategic consequences (whether the case proceeds in federal or state court) or substantive (the standard for liability, or the measure of damages). One context in which this issue arises involves idea submission – where the plaintiff pitches an idea idea hoping to persuade the recipient to purchase the idea for commercial development.  … Read the full article