Can Your Copyright Registration Be Invalidated?

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One of the first things that an infringer will do in an infringement lawsuit is attempt to invalidate your registration so that you won’t be eligible for statutory damages.  Fortunately, Congress recently revised the Copyright Act to make it more difficult to beat a registration.

Specifically, in the Prioritizing Resources and  Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2008, Pub. L. No. 110-403, 122 Stat. 4256 (2008), Congress added section 411(b), which states:

(1) A certificate of registration satisfies the requirements of this section and section 412, regardless of whether the certificate contains any inaccurate information, unless—

(A) the inaccurate information was included on the application for copyright registration with knowledge that it was inaccurate; and

(B) the inaccuracy of the information, if known, would have caused the Register of Copyrights to refuse registration.

(2) In any case in which inaccurate information described under paragraph (1) is alleged, the court shall request the Register of Copyrights to advise the court whether the inaccurate information, if known, would have caused the Register of Copyrights to refuse registration.

(3) Nothing in this subsection shall affect any rights, obligations, or requirements of a person related to information contained in a registration certificate, except for the institution of and remedies in infringement actions under this section and section 412.

This section was designed to prevent infringers from invalidating a registration when a copyright owner has made inadvertent mistakes in it.  See H. Rep. No. 110-617, at 14 (2008) (“[t]o prevent intellectual property thieves from exploiting this potential loophole, the Act makes clear that a registration containing inaccuracies will satisfy the registration requirements of the Copyright Act unless the mistake was knowingly made and the inaccuracy, if known, would have caused the Register of Copyrights to refuse the registration. And in cases where mistakes in a copyright registration are alleged, courts will be required to seek the advice of the Register of Copyrights as to whether the asserted mistake, if known at the time of application, would have caused the Copyright Office to refuse registration.”)

While you should always prepare a copyright registration application with the most accurate information possible, it’s comforting to know that an infringer won’t be able to invalidate your registration unless you knowingly provide material inaccurate information in it.

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