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Copyright Blog

University Asks Court to Stay Infringement Suit Until SCOTUS Decision

The University of Minnesota asks for stay of case citing pending SCOTUS decision in Allen v. Cooper

In September, we reported on one of the recent copyright infringement suits brought by Yesh Music, LLC (“Yesh”). This case was against the Regents of the University of Minnesota (“the University”). Yesh alleged the University synchronized a musical work owned by Yesh to an advertisement video posted on the University’s YouTube page. The University has moved for the court to dismiss the case for lack of personal jurisdiction and on grounds of sovereign immunity. In the alternative, the University asks the court to stay the litigation until the Supreme Court issues a decision on Allen v. Cooper, which it heard oral arguments for this past July.

First, the University purports that the New York court where the suit is pending does not have personal jurisdiction over the University because New York’s long-arm statute is not satisfied. The University argues that Yesh cannot establish that the posting of the allegedly infringing YouTube video actually caused injury in New York. The University cites case law suggesting that simply posting content to the internet does not give rise to jurisdiction in the forum state, so therefore jurisdiction in New York is improper.

Second, the University asserts its sovereign immunity. The University points out that numerous federal courts have consistently recognized sovereign immunity for state universities, and the University of Minnesota is no exception. Several cases against the University have been dismissed on grounds of sovereign immunity. The University also argues that relevant case law has shown that Congress has not validly abrogated state sovereign immunity for copyrights, so again, the University cannot be sued for copyright infringement on these grounds.

As an alternative to dismissing the case, the University asks the court to stay the litigation, pending a decision from the United States Supreme Court in the case of Allen v. Cooper. Allen v. Cooper is a case of whether Congress did indeed validly abrogated state sovereign immunity for copyright claims. Oral arguments were heard by the Supreme Court in July, and we previously reported on this case.

Yesh filed a brief in support of the University’s motion asking the court to stay the litigation until the Supreme Court renders its decision in Allen v. Cooper. Yesh argues that the decision in Allen v. Cooper will answer the question of whether the court truly does have jurisdiction over the present case. It is unclear when a decision from the Supreme Court will be rendered.