|(22 Nov 2016)
New federal lawsuits over issues of copyright infringement fell 22 percent last year.
Case-by-case court records compiled and analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University found a total of 3,944 new federal copyright infringement cases were filed in the U.S. District Courts during fiscal year 2016. This is down from the peak level of 5,042 such suits filed during fiscal year 2015.
This reduction represents a sharp reversal of previous trends which had seen the number of copyright infringement cases under 17 USC 501 climbing steadily year after year. This rise had been fueled by the growth of the internet as well as advances in technology. This made it easier both to legally distribute digital content as well as to pirate copyrighted material.
While national trends were down in FY 2016, the Central District of California (Los Angeles) which had the largest number of suits in the country during each of the past two years saw its copyright infringement cases grow from 632 lawsuits filed in FY 2015 to 716 new suits in FY 2016. Similarly in the Southern District of New York (Manhattan), which had the second highest volume of copyright infringement cases, the volume of new cases grew from 460 cases in FY 2015 to 551 during FY 2016.
All of the other nine districts that had at least 200 copyright infringement cases during FY 2015 -- including New Jersey, Maryland and the Northern District of Illinois (Chicago) -- saw their litigation numbers tumble during FY 2016.
Relative to their population size, Oregon with 2.6 times the national level and the Northern District of New York (Syracuse) with 1.6 times the national average, also had an unusually large number of FY 2016 copyright infringement suits.
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