On June 2, 2022, the U.S. Copyright Office announced that the Copyright Claims Board (CCB) will begin accepting claims on Thursday, June 16, 2022.
The CCB was established by the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act of 2020. The CCB consists of a three-member tribunal that provides a voluntary alternative to federal district court for copyright-related claims seeking damages of up to $30,000. The goal of the CCB is to provide a streamlined, cost-effective alternative for anyone seeking to resolve a copyright dispute, regardless of whether they are represented by legal counsel or not.
Key features of the CCB that achieve this goal include:
- User-friendly proceedings available to anyone—parties are permitted to have an attorney, but are not required to, and may represent themselves.
- Remote proceedings handled entirely electronically through video conference.
- Voluntary participation required by both parties, with an election to opt out of a CCB proceeding within 60 days after receiving notice of a claim.
- Limited discovery obligations involving only key documents and information.
- Safeguards against abusive practices, allowing a party to receive its reasonable costs and attorneys’ fees up to $5,000 (or $2,500 for parties representing themselves) if a party acts in bad faith.
However, filing a claim with the CCB rather than in federal court also has certain limitations:
- Limited jurisdiction to hear only certain copyright-related claims and counterclaims.
- Limited relief options—monetary damages are capped at $30,000 and the CCB cannot issue an injunction against an infringer.
- Limit on the number of claims a party can file in one year—for example, a maximum of 30 proceedings per claimant, or 80 proceedings per law firm on behalf of claimants in any 12-month period.
- Prohibition against filing the same claim against a party in federal court after a final CCB determination. However, if a respondent timely opts out of a CCB proceeding, the filing party can bring the same claim against the party in federal court.
- Limited options for seeking reconsideration, review, or appeal of a final CCB determination.
Attorneys and copyright owners alike may see an uptick in copyright claims that utilize the CCB’s small claims proceedings. And because opting out requires affirmative action by the alleged infringer, notices of claims before the CCB should not be ignored.
For more information on the CCB and its related procedures, see U.S. Copyright Office: Copyright Claims Board.