This case is about copyright and the burden of proof to obtain an injunction in the Second Circuit.
Up until this case came down in April 2010, the courts in the Second Circuit held just about automatically that a preliminary injunction should be granted when a copyright holder claimed irreparable damage. This is one of the features of second-circuit case law that made it so very popular with plaintiffs; most circuits hold that the test for a preliminary injunction is that “[a] plaintiff must demonstrate: (1) that it has suffered an irreparable injury; (2) that remedies available at law, such as monetary damages, are inadequate to compensate for that injury; (3) that, considering the balance of hardships between the plaintiff and defendant, a remedy in equity is warranted; and (4) that the public interest would not be disserved by a permanent injunction. eBay, Inc. v. MercExchange, LLC, 547 US 388, 391 (2006).
In Salinger, the Second Circuit holds that the law of eBay, a patent infringement case, specifically applies to copyright cases.
So what does this mean for the average copyright holder? It means that, to obtain a preliminary injunction in the Second Circuit, a plaintiff must show that:
(1) it has suffered an irreparable injury; accomplish this by showing that defendant has infringed copyright, thereby depriving plaintiff of benefits other than money that are available to it under the copyright law.
(2) remedies available at law, such as monetary damages, are inadequate to compensate for that injury; accomplish this by showing that the damage done cannot be fixed by throwing money at the problem.
(3) that, considering the balance of hardships between the plaintiff and defendant, a remedy in equity is warranted; show this by showing that plaintiff suffers more harm through the lack of a preliminary injunction than defendant suffers under a preliminary injunction.
(4) that the public interest would not be disserved by a permanent injunction; show this by showing how the plaintiff’s case advances the public interest in maintaining a bundle of rights exclusive to copyright owners.
This is a much higher standard of proof than previously existed in the Second Circuit for preliminary injunctions in copyright matters. It remains to be seen whether the additional burdens of proof will impact the number and quality of preliminary injunctions issued in the Second Circuit.