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Rimini Street, Inc. v. Oracle USA, Inc.

Cost Award in Copyright Case May Not Exceed Statutory Categories of Awardable Expenses

Rimini Street, Inc. v. Oracle USA, Inc., __ U.S. __, 2019 WL 1005828 (Mar. 4, 2019) (KAVANAUGH, J., for a unanimous Court) (9th Cir. (879 F.3d 948 (2018): Graber, Friedland, FOGEL) (D. Nev.: Hicks) (5 of 5 stars)

Supreme Court reverses in relevant part the Ninth Circuit’s decision part-affirming, part-reversing, part-vacating in case relating to copyright claims by Oracle. The Ninth Circuit erred in affirming an award of “costs” that included expenses categories of expenses not expressly recited in 28 U.S.C. §§ 1821, 1920. The opinion recites precedent holding that, absent express statutory authority, an award of litigation expenses may not go beyond the six categories in those sections. The Copyright Act’s reference to “full costs” is insufficient to authorize an expense award going beyond those sections, for three reasons. First, the opinion reasons that “full costs” means full payment of only those costs authorized under the law. It rejects Oracle’s contention that “full costs” has historical meaning going beyond the enumerated costs. And it rejects Oracle’s contention that this outcome renders “full” surplusage in the statute. Even if there were redundancy, the opinion reasons, “[r]edundancy is not a silver bullet.” Op. at 11.

KEYWORDS: COPYRIGHT; COSTS