One of the most important ways to measure the impact of copyright law is through empirical examination of actual copyright infringement cases. Yet scholars have universally overlooked this rich source of data. This study fills that gap through a comprehensive empirical analysis of copyright infringement litigation, examining the pleadings, motions, and dockets from more than nine hundred copyright lawsuits filed from 2005 through 2008. The data we collect allow us to examine a wide variety of copyright issues, such as the rate of settlements versus judgments; the incidence of litigation between major media companies, small firms, and individuals; the kinds of industries and works involved in litigation; the nature of the alleged infringement; the success rates of particular parties and claims; and the nature of remedies sought and awarded. We also analyze the data to identify ways in which copyright litigation differs from other civil suits and to show that certain plaintiff characteristics are more predictive of success.
Christopher A. Cotropia & James Gibson, Copyright's Topography: An Empirical Study of Copyright Litigation, 92 Tex. L. Rev. 1981 (2014).