The Copyright Act of 1976 and Prejudgment Interest

This Note argues that prejudgment interest should be presumptively available on damages-plus-profits awards under section 504(b) but should not be available for statutory damages under section 504(c). Part I argues that Supreme Court precedent suggests that the explicit reference to interest found in the Patent Act does not prevent courts from awarding prejudgment interest under the 1976 Copyright Act. Part II asserts that the 1976 Copyright Act’s silence regarding prejudgment interest does not represent a congressional choice to exclude this remedy and that, in the face of this silence, the underlying purposes of section 504 should determine the propriety of prejudgment interest awards. This Part concludes that courts may grant prejudgment interest on damages-plus-profits awards to fulfill the Act’s compensation and restitution goals but may not do so on statutory-damages awards because of Congress’s desire to set explicit limits on this type of liability. Part III suggests a standard whereby prejudgment interest should be awarded on damages-plus-profits awards unless the copyright owner unreasonably delayed asserting her copyright or there was a legitimate question as to the copyrightability of the infringed work.