Newspaper article International New York Times

Top Court Rules on Fees in Copyright Cases

Newspaper article International New York Times

Top Court Rules on Fees in Copyright Cases

Article excerpt

In a unanimous decision, the court said a student who won a copyright case over imported textbooks should be able to seek payment of legal fees from the book's publisher.

The Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that a Thai student who in 2013 won a copyright case involving imported textbooks should have another chance to persuade a lower court that the textbook's publisher should pay his legal fees.

The usual rule in American civil litigation is that each side pays its own lawyers regardless of who wins. But the Copyright Act allows judges to "award a reasonable attorney's fee to the prevailing party."

Federal appeals courts have applied different standards in deciding when fee awards in copyright cases are warranted. The judge in the student's case, in New York, awarded him nothing, relying on a decision from the federal appeals court there that focused on whether the losing side's position had been "objectively reasonable. …

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