A New, Affordable Way to Resolve Copyright Disputes
A new, streamlined alternative to federal court is now available to resolve copyright disputes involving claims up to $30,000. Established through the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act of 2020, the Copyright Claims Board (CCB) is a three-person copyright expert tribunal located in the Copyright Office and offers a voluntary alternative to bringing suite in federal court. A CCB proceeding is designed to be more efficient, less costly and faster than a federal court case.
The CCB is accessible to anyone with or without an attorney, and unlike federal court, only three types of claims can be brought: claims of copyright infringement, claims seeking declarations that specific activities do not infringe copyright and claims of misrepresentation in notices sent under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Counterclaims are limited to these three claims, plus any contract issues stemming from the claims, but they must arise out of the same “transaction or occurrence” and involve the same copyrighted work at issue in the original claim.
Damages will be capped at $30,000, and a successful party may choose to recover either statutory damages (set by this cap) or actual damages plus the infringer’s profits (also set by the cap). A mechanism is in place to prevent an abuse of the CCB process by limiting the number of claims a party can file per year and bringing a CCB claim in bad faith could lead to costs and attorney’s fees paid by the bad faith filer.
Notably, CCB determinations will be posted online and accessible to the public, but the determinations will not be considered precedential. Also, these decisions will have no impact on federal court proceedings, but once a claim has been decided by the CCB, the parties cannot move to federal court to relitigate the same claims. Instead, a party may seek CCB’s reconsideration or modification of a determination, but only for clear error or technical mistakes. A party may also request that the Register of Copyrights review whether the CCB abused its discretion in denying a request for reconsideration, and in rarer cases, a party may seek review of the determination in federal court.
For information on the new Copyright Claims Board, visit https://ccb.gov/.