Should there be a presumption favoring awards of attorney fees in copyright litigation?
, June 2014
Section 505 of the Copyright Act allows courts to award attorney fees to the prevailing party in a copyright case. Twenty years ago, the Supreme Court in Fogerty v. Fantasy, Inc. held that courts should assess fees using an “evenhanded” approach rather than one favoring a prevailing plaintiff. The Court emphasized the importance of the “equitable discretion” of the district courts in awarding fees. But in recent years, the Seventh Circuit has called for “presumptive entitlement” of attorney’s fees to the prevailing party. This paper points out the number of problem with such a presumption, including the difference between a presumption and an inference and the chilling effect on plaintiffs with legitimate claims.
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