Copyright Suits Trending Upward

Number Latest Month 296
Number Previous Month 319
Percent Change from 1 year ago 41.3%
Percent Change from 5 years ago -19.2%

Table 1: Copyright Civil Lawsuits Filed

The latest available data from the federal courts show that during July 2012 the government reported 296 new copyright civil filings, according to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC). This is the fourth straight month where filings have reached close to 300 or more per month — higher than they have been since July 2008.

When monthly 2012 civil filings of this type are compared with those of the same period in the previous year, their number was up 41 percent. The comparisons of the number of civil filings for copyright-related suits are based on case-by-case court records which were compiled and analyzed by TRAC (see Table 1).

Federal copyright lawsuits have been rising over the last two years, but are still lower in July 2012 than they were for the same period five years ago. Overall, the data show that civil filings of this type are down 19.2 percent from levels reported in July 2007.

Bar and line plot of fymon

Figure 1: Copyright Civil Lawsuits Filed Over the Last 5 Years

The long term trend in civil filings for copyright matters going back five years is shown more clearly in Figure 1. The vertical bars in Figure 1 represent the number of copyright civil filings recorded each month. The superimposed line on the bars plots the six-month moving average so that natural fluctuations are smoothed out. One-year and five-year change comparisons are based upon the moving averages.

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

Relative to population, the volume of civil matters of this type filed in federal district courts during July 2012 was one per every million persons in the United States. One year ago the relative number of filings was 0.6. Understandably, there is great variation in the per capita number of copyright civil filings in each of the nation's ninety-four federal judicial districts.

Judicial District Percapita Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago
D. C. 15.0 9 1 2 8
N. Y., S 3.9 20 2 1 1
Penn, E 3.5 20 3 42 5
Colorado 3.4 17 4 36 42
Cal, C 3.3 61 5 6 2
Cal, N 2.2 17 6 4 14
Fla, S 1.9 13 7 11 19
Cal, S 1.9 6 8 24 21
Fla, M 1.6 16 9 26 29
Maine 1.5 2 10 - -

Table 2: Top 10 districts (per one million people)

  • The District of Washington, D.C. — with 15.0 civil filings as compared with 1.0 civil filings per one million people in the United States — was the most active through July 2012. The District of Washington, D.C. was ranked 2nd a year ago, while it was ranked 8th five years ago.

  • The Southern District of New York ranked 2nd. The Southern District of New York was ranked 1st a year ago as well as five years ago.

  • The Eastern District of Pennsylvania now ranks 3rd.

The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in the rate of copyright civil filings compared to one year ago — 900 percent — was the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth — 780.1 percent — was Washington, D.C.

In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest drop in the rate of copyright civil filings — 4.8 percent — was the Southern District of New York.

Each month, TRAC offers a free report focused on one area of civil litigation in the U.S. district courts. In addition, subscribers to the TRACFed data service can generate custom reports by district, office, nature of suit or federal jurisdiction via the TRAC Data Interpreter.

Report Date: September 4, 2012
TRAC Copyright
Copyright 2012, TRAC Reports, Inc.