Rimini Street, Inc. v. Oracle USA, Inc.

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Copyright
  • Date Filed: September 27, 2018
  • Case #: 17-1625
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 879 F.3d 948 (9th Cir. 2018)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether the Copyright Act’s allowance of “full costs” (17 U.S.C. § 505) to a prevailing party is limited to taxable costs under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1920 and 1821, as the Eighth and Eleventh Circuits have held, or also authorizes non-taxable costs, as the Ninth Circuit holds.

Respondents prevailed in a suit against Petitioners for copyright infringement and computer hacking. Post-trial, Respondents moved for additional fees and costs to be assessed, included in which was over $12 million in non-taxable costs. Petitioners objected to the award of non-taxable costs arguing that the Copyright Act limits costs awarded to taxable costs permitted by 28 U.S.C. §§ 1920 and 1821. The district court ruled for Petitioners, citing Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals precedent that a plaintiff is permitted to recover “all costs”, and the Ninth Circuit affirmed. Petitioners argue that the Ninth Circuit’s decision is wrong and conflicts with United States Supreme Court precedent stating that barring “plain evidence of congressional intent to supersede Sections 1920 and 1821, a court may not assess non-taxable costs.” Crawford Fitting, 482 U.S. at 439. Petitioners argue that the Eighth and Eleventh Circuits have correctly held that the Copyright Act’s allowance for the recovery of “full costs” (17 U.S.C. § 505) is limited to taxable costs. The Eighth and Eleventh Circuits reasoned that the words “full costs” do not demonstrate congressional intent that non-taxable costs be assessed. Petitioners argue that this is consistent with the historical meaning of “full costs.” Furthermore, Petitioners argue that Congress enacted §§ 1920 and 1821 to limit the scope of costs assessed and to promote uniformity; the Ninth Circuit’s ruling defies both of those principals.

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