Copyright Claims Board to Hear Small Claims Disputes This Month
The Copyright Office recently announced that the Copyright Claims Board (CCB) will begin accepting claims on Thursday, June 16, 2022.
The CCB is made up of three Officers and was established under the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2020 (CASE Act). The CCB will offer an alternative to copyright litigation in federal court for claims under $30,000 (small claims). The CCB aims to provide an accessible and efficient option for resolving smaller copyright disputes.
Several interesting details about the CCB’s small claims disputes process have been revealed in the Final Rules published by the Copyright Office:
Electronic Filings & Virtual Proceedings – With a few exceptions, all filings with the CCB will be submitted through an online filing system called “eCCB.” Proceedings, including hearings and conferences, will be handled completely virtually so parties can participate remotely and will not need to travel to Washington D.C. where the Copyright Office and the CCB are physically located.
Voluntary Participation – All parties must agree to participate in a proceeding before the CCB. Respondents may choose to opt-out for any reason within 60 days of receiving notice. If a party decides to opt-out of the proceeding, the CCB will dismiss the claim against that party and the Claimant can still bring the same claim in federal court.
Types of Claims – Only certain types of claims and counterclaims can be brought before the CCB. Unlike federal court, the CCB’s jurisdiction is limited to certain copyright-related claims, including but not limited to claims of copyright infringement, claims seeking declarations of non-infringement, and claims of “misrepresentation” in notices sent under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
Filing Fees – Filing fees for CCB proceedings will be paid under a two-tiered fee arrangement: (1) The initial fee for filing a claim will be $40, and (2) If the parties do not opt-out of the proceeding and the claim meets all statutory requirements, the proceeding becomes “active” and a second $60 fee must be paid. Thus, entry costs are significantly less than those associated with initiating a claim in federal court.
Representation – While a party may choose to be represented by an attorney in a CCB proceeding, hiring counsel is not mandatory. In certain instances, law students may represent a party pro bono in a CCB proceeding. This helps further lower costs and increase accessibility for parties interested in resolving small copyright claims before the CCB versus in federal court.
Discovery – Unlike in federal court, discovery obligations in CCB proceedings will be streamlined and parties will only be required to exchange limited key documents and information.
Relief – The CCB may not order injunctive relief and is limited to awarding monetary damages up to $30,000 ($15,000 per work infringed for statutory damages). The CCB may award attorneys’ fees in exceptional cases when it is evident that a party has acted in bad faith, and the CCB has other measures in place to avoid abusive practices as well (e.g., there will be a limit on the number of claims that any party can file in a single year). If a party does not opt-out of a CCB proceeding but does not participate in the proceeding, or stops participating in some cases, the CCB may enter a default determination against that party. If the CCB decides that a party is in default, it can dismiss that party’s claims or counterclaims and issue an order that such party pay monetary damages.
To listen to a podcast on this topic, please visit Trending Now – An IP Podcast and select Episode 28: Copyrights - Small Claims Process at the Copyright Office.