If you’ve received a claim that was filed against you in the Copyright Claims Board (CCB), you probably have a lot of questions, starting with “What is this, and what do I do now?” In short, the CCB is a voluntary forum to resolve copyright disputes involving claims up to $30,000 and is a new alternative to federal court. So, what should you do? Participating in a CCB proceeding is voluntary, and the choice is up to you; however, there are a few important benefits you should consider when deciding.
Before the CCB was established, copyright infringement disputes could only be resolved in federal court, which is expensive, with the average copyright infringement lawsuit costing hundreds of thousands of dollars to litigate. The CCB is a low-cost, user-friendly alternative. While you may hire an attorney or seek out pro bono legal assistance to represent you in a proceeding, the CCB has been designed so that you can represent yourself or your business and save the cost of associated legal fees. When you participate in a CCB proceeding, you also protect yourself from having the dispute go to federal court, where the amount you may be ordered to pay is uncapped. In contrast, damages in a CCB proceeding are capped at $30,000.*
In the CCB, if you believe you have a claim against the person filing a claim against you (the claimant), you can also file a claim against them, as long as your claim is based on the same facts and circumstances of their original claim. This is called a counterclaim. You can file counterclaims with the CCB free of charge. To file your counterclaim for free, though, you have to have opted into the initial proceeding.
Experienced Decision Makers
In the CCB, after both sides present their side, determinations are made by three impartial lawyers with deep experience in copyright law, called Copyright Claims Officers. Having your position heard by experienced Officers means faster decisions by professionals with deep copyright knowledge. You can learn more about the Officers on CCB.gov. The CCB is also supported by additional attorneys with significant experience in copyright law, who are available to address questions you might have about the process via email at [email protected]. The CCB has also developed a user-friendly filing system to help you respond to a claim and a handbook to help support you through the process, whether you are representing yourself or seeking the assistance of an attorney.
At the end of the day, when there is a legal dispute, most of us just want to resolve things as rapidly, affordably, and fairly as possible. In addition to being much more cost-effective than federal court, the CCB is designed to be a quicker way to resolve copyright disputes, with streamlined legal processes and limited discovery. And importantly, unlike federal court, the CCB is 100 percent virtual. This means there is no need to spend time or money traveling to Washington, DC, where the Board’s offices are located. You can participate in all parts of a CCB proceeding entirely online. Finally, it is worth noting that if you opt out of a CCB proceeding, this does not necessarily end the claims against you: the other side can still take their claim against you to federal court, ultimately lengthening the time of the dispute.
After you’ve received a formal notice (called “service”) that someone has filed a claim against you in the CCB, you normally have sixty days to decide whether to opt out of participating in the proceedings or have the claim heard by the CCB.
The CCB is likely the best choice in many cases. However, there are a few reasons you may wish to opt out. Because parties only exchange limited key documents and information in a CCB proceeding, the CCB might not be appropriate if your claim is very complex or involves a third-party or expert witness. The CCB does not allow depositions, rarely allows expert witnesses, and has no power to force third-party witnesses to provide testimony or give evidence. If you decide to opt out, instructions on how to do so will be included with the information you receive. On the other hand, if you would like to participate in the proceeding, all you have to do is wait sixty days, and you will then receive instructions on how to file your response. You will be on your way to accessing a fair, cheaper, and faster alternative to federal court.
To learn more about the CCB, visit CCB.gov; check out our other blog posts about the CCB, like “The Copyright Claims Board Is Here: Find Out If It’s Right for You!”; and sign up for our listserv for CCB-related email alerts.
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