University of Arkansas at Little Rock Law Review


Brandon Beam

Document Type



Copyright license cases pose difficult issues regarding the mixture of federal copyright law and state contract law for courts and commentators alike. Specifically, a split exists over which cases "arise under" federal copyright law. This complication is compounded by the difficulty in predicting federal preemption of state contract law.

In an effort to stabilize these complications, this comment recommends an approach of split sovereignty that would empower different systems to control the areas they are designated to regulate. In particular, the author suggests that procedural issues in copyright license cases should be clarified by (1) governing exclusive federal jurisdiction under §1338 by the well-pleaded complaint rule,and (2) deciding rights covered under a license using federal copyright law, while employing state contract law to interpret the license.

First, this comment examines statutes and case law pertaining to jurisdiction and choice of law in the context of intellectual property. Next, the author suggests an interpretation of the law to implement the aforementioned suggestions. Finally, the comment concludes with a discussion of the benefits of the recommended approach. In conclusion, the author asserts that copyright jurisprudence will be simplified through the implementation of the comment's suggested approach.