The U.S. Copyright Office has announced that the new Copyright Claims Board (CCB) will begin accepting claim filings on June 16, 2022.
Dubbed the “copyright small claims court,” the new administrative tribunal is a voluntary process for claims totaling up to $30,000. Although located in Washington, DC, proceedings will be conducted entirely electronically and remotely. It will not be necessary to travel to file or attend a hearing.
A party who is served a claim that has been filed with the CCB has a right to opt out. The party filing the claim then has the right to file the claim in court instead. The statute of limitations period is tolled while a CCB claim is pending.
The CCB has the power to issue a determination by default if a party fails to respond to a properly served claim or fails to participate in the proceeding without exercising the opt-out right. The CCB may also dismiss or issue a default determination against a claimant who fails to prosecute the claim, misses a deadline, or otherwise fails to comply with board rules.
Although registration is required before a final determination can be issued, it is not necessary to wait until an application has been either granted or denied before filing a claim. It is enough if an application to register the copyright has been filed.
Limitation on remedies
Total damages awarded cannot exceed $30,000. A claimant may elect either statutory damages, on one hand, or actual damages or lost profits on the other. A respondent may file a counterclaim, provided it is related to the original claim.
The CCB does not have the power to issue injunctions. It can, however, include in its determination a requirement that a party stop or modify certain activities if the party has agreed to do so.
Attorney fees and costs are not recoverable unless the other party has acted in bad faith. There is a $5,000 cap if the other party is represented by an attorney. Otherwise, the cap is $2,500. In some extraordinary circumstances, a higher amount may be awarded.
Review and appeal of CCB decisions
If you disagree with a CCB determination, review is available through:
- Request for CCB reconsideration
- Request for review by the Register of Copyrights
Judicial review is available only under limited circumstances.
If an infringer fails to pay the amount the CCB has ordered, the claimant may bring an action in federal district court to enforce payment.
Registration, forms and handbook
The CCB promises to have forms, handbook and the ability to begin registering users publicly available by June 16.
Need help with a copyright matter? Contact attorney Thomas James.