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Do You Have To Be A United States Citizen To Sue For Copyright Infringement In The United States?

by | Dec 18, 2022 | Copyright Law, Music Law, Photography Law |

Traditionally, when we think about copyright disputes, we think about a dispute between two individuals, or parties, in America.  However, as the world has become more interconnected through technology copyright disputes are becoming more international.

Therefore, it is not uncommon for an individual or party abroad to have their work infringed in the United States (and vice versa).  Fortunately, even if you do not reside in the United States, and are not a United States citizen, you can still take advantage of the United States’ court system and the Copyright Act of 1976.

Pursuant to 17 U.S.C. 104(b), a person or company, so long as they are a citizen or are domiciled in a “treaty party”, have the same protections as a United States’ citizen under the Copyright Act of 1976.

A “treaty party” is simply a foreign country that has entered into certain treaties concerning intellectual property with the United States.

It could be argued that for copyright, the most relevant treaty is the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary Works (“Berne Convention”), its amendments, and the various treaties administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”) that were meant to supplement the Berne Convention (Known as the WIPO copyright Treaty (“WTC”) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (“WPPT”) respectively).

However, pragmatically, all you need to know is that through these treaties, if you are a foreign individual, you automatically have the same copyright protection in America as a United States’ citizen.  Conversely, if you are a United States’ citizen, you automatically have the same copyright protection as foreign nationals in their own countries.  Through these treaties you are to be treated the same as each other.

Thus, if you are a foreign individual whose work is being infringed upon in the United States you have the same rights to sue as if you were a United States’ citizen.  You are entitled to compensation and stopping the infringement.  If you are a foreign national whose work has been infringed upon in the United States reach out to us for your free consultation.

These blogposts shall not be constituted as legal advice and are for informational purposes only.  Each and every case is different and requires an attorney to examine the specific case in question to arrive at an adequate legal conclusion.  In addition, these blogposts are not updated, or edited, after the date of their initial post, and as such, the information contained within them may be outdated.  Finally, the above blogpost discusses the law as interpreted within the jurisdiction of the 9th Circuit.  Various federal circuits may have differing interpretations of the law.  Consult with your own personal attorney for more information on the subject matters.