A New Stage for Copyright Infringement Claims – Copyright Claims Board

The Copyright Office effectively declared that there were only minor copyright infringement claims when it established the Copyright Claims Board (CCB) on June 16, paraphrasing the famous line from the father of modern acting technique. Time will tell if this new stage will be the legal equivalent of a cruise ship dinner theater or a well-respected and well-run forum for copyright owners seeking redress (Or, to continue shamelessly peddling this analogy, a July “Shakespeare in the Park”). Regardless of the CCB’s future reputation, copyright holders would benefit from understanding this new venue for resolving copyright infringement claims and considering its benefits and drawbacks when pursuing or defending copyright infringement cases.

The Copyright Claims Board: What Is It?

Congress approved the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act (CASE Act) in December 2020. The CASE Act authorized the Copyright Office to establish the CCB, a three-member tribunal, to settle copyright disputes involving up to $30,000 in total damages and statutory damages of no more than $15,000 per infringed work.

[1]. The CCB proceedings are entirely voluntary. To participate, both parties must agree. The CCB can look into several claims if the parties agree to participate, including one for violating one of the Copyright Act’s exclusive rights

[2]. The following are some of the claims that the CCB cannot hear:

Any claims or counterclaims that have been decided by a court of competent jurisdiction or are pending before one 

[3]For claims brought against individuals or businesses outside the United States, follow the CCB’s procedures. Once the parties agree to take the matter to the CCB, things will move quickly. The respondent will submit a response to the claim. To begin discovery, the parties must use the CCB’s standard interrogatories and document requests.

[4] Depositions are not permitted. Virtual conferences are held before and after the discovery. Motion practice is not formally conducted. The CCB follows no formal rules for evidence, just like motion practice does. After discovery, the proceedings before the CCB are handled by writing a submission, holding hearings, and holding conferences via video or telecommunication; no one has to be there in person. The CCB can consider documentary and other non-testimonial evidence as well as testimonial evidence when making a decision[5].

Determinations by the CCB The records of the proceeding before the CCB, applicable regulations from the Register of Copyrights, and judicial precedent serve as the foundation for the CCB’s decisions. Most of the three tribunal members must sign the written decision[6], which has no bearing on other actions or proceedings. A fruitful party before the CCB might get a few cures, including genuine harms, legal harms, a necessity to stop a motion, and lawyers’ expenses and expenses. In addition to attorney’s fees and costs, the maximum amount of financial relief is $30,000, as previously stated. The claims and counterclaims asserted and ultimately determined in the CCB cannot be prosecuted in another venue because of the CCB’s final determination.

If a party “identifies a clear error of law or fact material to the outcome or a technical mistake,” it may ask the CCB to reconsider its decision. The CCB can either revise the final judgment or reject the reconsideration. A party may request a review by the Register of Copyrights.

[7] if a reconsideration is denied. The study by the Register of Copyrights is limited to determining whether the CCB “abused its discretion in denying reconsideration of the determination. A party may request that a district court in the United States “vacate, alter, or revise” the CCB’s ruling. However, a determination may only be vacated, modified, or corrected by the district court if it was the result of misconduct such as fraud, corruption, misrepresentation, or another type of misconduct; The tribunal went beyond its authority, failed to make a decision, or defaulted or failed to prosecute due to excusable neglect.

Is the CCB the appropriate venue?

The “little guy” copyright owner was the focus of the development of the CCB. The CCB’s potential simplicity, low cost, and ease of access could make it an appealing option for artists, photographers, or musicians. Even though the awards won’t be as big as they could be in federal litigation, which might put off plaintiffs who want big money back, the tradeoff is that there won’t be as many costs to fight, and a decision can be made quickly and efficiently. Similarly, defendants might find it appealing to resolve pending claims against them in a forum that caps damages through a faster process than civil litigation.

On the other hand, if proceedings fall apart due to disagreements over discovery and testimony, the early promise of a cost-effective and quick resolution of copyright infringement claims may not be fulfilled. Defendants may frequently opt-out if the CCB is perceived as a biased forum that favors copyright owners.

With close to 100 claims filed in less than two months, the early trends suggest that the CCB will be a busy forum. The respondents, which range in size, appear to be primarily individuals in these earlier claims. However, several businesses are using the CCB and filing claims. From online infringement to selling infringing products, claims have been filed thus far. In addition, multiple claimants and respondents are typically represented by counsel in the initiated proceedings, even though an attorney is not required.