Intellectual Property Litigation: The single publication rule
by Tim Bukher
Eric Goldman of the Technology & Marketing Law Blog reports on a recent 9th Circuit decision clarifying the single publication rule in the online publishing context.
“a statement on a website is not republished unless the statement itself is substantively altered or added to, or the website is directed to a new audience.”
Yeager v. Bowlin, No. 10-15297 (9th Cir. Sept. 10, 2012).
In Yeager, the famous aviator sued a website for right of publicity violations arising from publications made about Yeager in 2003. The suit was brought in 2008, well past the two-year statute of limitations on such violations.
The Court concluded that the single publication rule applied. Meaning, the statute of limitations begins to run on the first “single” publication of the violating work and is not subsequently reset by the fact that the work has remained published on the website for several years thereafter. The Court did note that several changes had been made to the site during that period, but since those changes did not “substantively alter” or add to the violating publication, the first date of publication was set with respect to the statute of limitations in this matter.
This is an important clarification for the internet publishing industry.
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