Awarding of Attorneys Fees for Copyright Cases Not Automatic

In addition to their costs, the prevailing party in a copyright case may also seek recovery of their attorneys fees, provided that the requirements of the Act are otherwise met. See 17 U.S.C. Section 505, which provides as follows:

§ 505. Remedies for infringement: Costs and attorney’s fees

In any civil action under this title, the court in its discretion may allow the recovery of full costs by or against any party other than the United States or an officer thereof. Except as otherwise provided by this title, the court may also award a reasonable attorney’s fee to the prevailing party as part of the costs.

This grant of attorneys fees is not automatic, instead a court must determine whether the grant of fees is reasonable.

In the recent case of UMG Recordings, Inc. v. Veoh, 2010 WL 1407316 (C.D.Cal., April 6, 2010), the video sharing site Veoh sought recovery of its attorneys fees after it had prevailed in its defense of the copyright claims brought by the copyright owners UMG. Veoh had been granted partial summary judgment on the grounds of its meeting all the requirements for 512(c) safe harbor immunity. Despite prevailing, in this recent ruling the Court held that Veoh was not entitled to the recovery of its fees because Veoh could not prove that “UMG’s legal challenge was improper, in bad faith, or contrary to the purposes of the Copyright Act.”

Here’s the important section discussing this holding from this short opinion:

Giving full consideration to the purposes of the Copyright Act, the Court concludes that Veoh is not entitled to recover attorneys’ fees. “[T]here is typically no award of fees in cases involving issues of first impression or advancing claims that were neither frivolous nor objectively unreasonable.” 4 Nimmer on Copyright § 14.10. Both Veoh and UMG advanced positions that were neither frivolous nor objectively unreasonable.

I understand that Veoh was recently acquired by Qlipso.

3 Responses to Awarding of Attorneys Fees for Copyright Cases Not Automatic

Leave a reply