Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in Unicolors v. H&M, a case that is important for all creators and copyright registrants. ASMP General Counsel Thomas Maddrey drafted an amicus brief in this case on behalf of ASMP and the California Society of Entertainment Lawyers that was joined by twelve other creator’s rights organizations.
Writing for a 6-3 majority of the Court, Justice Breyer noted: “The important point for our purposes is that a certificate of registration is valid even though it contains inaccurate in-formation, as long as the copyright holder lacked ‘knowledge that it was inaccurate.'” He goes on to support that point with statutory interpretation, legislative history, and creative metaphors.
What this mean in practice is that good-faith errors, when there is no attempt to defraud the Copyright Office, should be eligible to utilize the “safe harbor” provisions of the law in §411(b). This should come as some comfort to those who do not register their works due to the fear that making a mistake will render their registrations irrelevant in the future.
Much more analysis to come on this very important case shortly, but this is a big win for all ASMP members and creators.