Monday, March 16, 2009

Supreme Court Watch: What's Next

The Supreme Court docket shows that the petitioners' (defendants and plaintiffs') brief is due May 18. The respondents' (objectors') brief is due July 17.

The question before the justices -- subject matter jurisdiction for unregistered copyrights -- reflects more of a victory for the objectors in the petition process than is generally recognized. Since this is highly technical terrain that I, frankly, don't fully understand yet myself, I'll have a fuller explanation later. But basically: There are two categories of the subject matter jurisdiction question. The petitioners asked the Court only to look at the first type; the respondents also asked the Court to look at the second type; and the Court framed the grant of certiorari in a way that will hear both types.

Another intriguing open issue is who will argue the position of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals that the federal courts have no jurisdiction over settlements involving unregistereds. The appellate ruling was sua sponte, or on the court's own initiative, not at the behest of one of the adversarial parties. I'm told that in such situations the Supreme Court, or the Second Circuit itself, might appoint an advocate for the lower court's position.


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