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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Perry, Esq.

SCOTUS Excuses Innocent Inaccuracies in Copyright Registrations

Late last month, the US Supreme Court ruled in Unicolors, Inc. v. H&M Hennes & Mauritz, LP that a copyright owner can file a copyright infringement lawsuit even if the registration application is inaccurate because of an innocent mistake of law or fact.

At issue was Unicolors’ copyright registration certificate. H&M claimed it was inaccurate because Unicolors had knowingly included inaccurate information in its application by trying to register multiple works in a single application even though it had made those works separately available to clients and the public. The district court held in favor of Unicolors because Unicolors’ mistake did not evidence an intent to defraud under Section 411(b) of the Copyright Act. However, the Ninth Circuit reversed, stating that Section 411 does not contain an intent-to-defraud requirement, and Unicolors knew the information it registered was inaccurate.

SCOTUS, on the other hand, ruled that Section 411 excuses innocent mistakes of law or fact in registrations. The upshot of this decision is that it can potentially help creatives in that they can claim they acted in good faith and their registrations were a result of an innocent mistake of fact or law.


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