Monday, August 05, 2013

Copyright Law - Ninth Circuit: Garden Variety Contract Dispute? Or Federal Copyright Action?

Assignments of Copyrights, Declaratory Judgments, Federal Question Jurisdiction, Dismissal of State Law Claims

Frost v. Frederick, 466 Fed.Appx. 604 (9th Cir. January 13, 2012). Plaintiff brings an action that the district court determines to be primarily a garden variety state law dispute over the formation of a contract. The district court declines jurisdiction. On appeal, and noting that even where jurisdiction exists a court may decline a declaratory judgment action, the 9th Circuit vacates and remands for consideration of four factors that the district court must record: 1. Whether retaining jurisdiction will involve the court in a needless decision of state law; 2. Whether the request is a means of forum shopping, 3. Whether dismissal of the claim for declaratory relief would avoid duplicative litigation. Since the district court did not consider all of the factors, including Plaintiff’s assertion that the controversy involved the transfer of copyright property subject to U.S.C. §204(a) and a potentially important question of federal law, the Ninth Circuit remanded for additional findings.
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