Property, intangible

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9th Circuit Agrees

When does a claim of copyright ownership accrue for purposes of the statute of limitations?

Although this is an issue of first impression in our circuit, we are guided by the Second and Sixth Circuits. Our sister circuits have held that, where the gravamen of a copyright infringement suit is ownership, and a freestanding ownership claim would be time-barred, any infringement claims are also barred. See Kwan v. Schlein, 634 F.3d 224, 229-30 (2d Cir.2011); Ritchie v. Williams, 395 F.3d 283, 288 n. 5 (6th Cir.2005); see also Roger Miller Music, Inc. v. Sony/ATV Publ’g, LLC, 477 F.3d 383, 389–90 (6th Cir.2007). “When claims for both infringement and ownership are alleged,” according to the Sixth Circuit, “the infringement claim is timely only if the corresponding ownership claim is also timely.” Roger Miller Music, Inc., 477 F.3d at 389–90. Or, as the Second Circuit puts it, “[w]here … the ownership claim is time-barred, and ownership is the dispositive issue, any attendant infringement claims must fail.” Kwan, 634 F.3d at 230….

We join our sister circuits in holding that an untimely ownership claim will bar a claim for copyright infringement where the gravamen of the dispute is ownership, at least where, as here, the parties are in a close relationship.

Seven Arts Filmed Enter. Ltd. v. Content Media Corp., No. 11-567-59 (9th Cir. Nov. 6, 2013).

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