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Copyright Claims Board Opens for Business, Giving Authors a Viable Way to Sue Infringers

The U.S. Copyright Office’s new Copyright Claims Board (CCB) will finally open its doors on Thursday, June 16. The culmination of a long effort by the Authors Guild and other creator organizations, the CCB is intended to serve as an affordable and practical alternative to federal litigation for resolving smaller copyright claims.

Established by the CASE Act, the Copyright Claims Board is a tribunal within the U.S. Copyright Office that can hear small copyright infringement claims. Each CCB proceeding can cover up to $15,000 per individual claim and $30,000 in combined claims. The initial filing fee is $40, with a second fee of $60 due only if a claim moves forward.

Proceedings will be conducted remotely and kept relatively simple so that claimants and respondents can represent themselves, eliminating the need for costly legal representation. Three copyright claims officers will preside over CCB proceedings, functioning as judges responsible for reviewing the facts of a dispute and issuing a decision based on the law. Additionally, CCB staff attorneys will review filed claims to ensure that they meet the requirements for using the CCB, assist in its administration, and advise parties on its procedures and requirements.

“Sixteen years ago, we began advocating for a copyright small claims court to give authors and tens of thousands of other individual creators meaningful access to justice,” said Mary Rasenberger, CEO of the Authors Guild. “Until the CCB’s creation, the only way authors and other creators could seek redress for the infringement of their rights was to file suit in federal court, a time-intensive proposition that costs $400,000 on average, often far greater than the value of the underlying claim. Thus, unless you were exceptionally well-resourced, which few authors are, you had no recourse for violation of your rights. To have rights but no power to assert them effectively means that you have no rights at all. With the CCB, authors and creators finally can have their day in court.”

Starting June 16, the CCB will begin accepting claims through a dedicated electronic filing and case management system (eCCB). The Copyright Office has published an FAQ document and an instructional video to help authors and other copyright holders easily navigate the CCB, with more educational resources—including a comprehensive handbook—to be added in the coming weeks and months.

The Authors Guild’s legal team is here to help guide Authors Guild members interested in adjudicating claims in the CCB through the proceedings. Members can click here to submit a legal request.

Be on the lookout for more resources from the Authors Guild, including a webinar on using the CCB the week of July 11.  Sign up for our newsletter if you haven’t already to make sure you are notified when registration for the webinar opens up.