The Availability of Jury Trials in Copyright Infringement Cases: Limiting the Scope of the Seventh Amendment

This Note argues that statutory copyright damages are properly regarded as equitable and hence that no right to a jury trial exists in cases brought to recover such damages. More generally, the Note maintains that the seventh amendment’s distinction between equitable and legal causes of action has produced irrational consequences, and proposes that “legal” issues be defined narrowly so as to limit the scope of the seventh amendment. Part I analyzes the debate over statutory copyright damages, concluding that historical and statutory construction arguments require these damages to be construed as legal. Part II examines some of the problems that have resulted from traditional interpretations of the seventh amendment, and argues that these problems would be ameliorated by classifying ambiguous causes of action, such as statutory copyright damages, as equitable relief.