This month marks a full year since the Copyright Claims Board (CCB) became available to the public, providing an efficient, streamlined way to resolve copyright claims involving damages of up to $30,000. Over the past twelve months, the CCB has delivered on the Copyright Office’s Copyright for All goal to expand access to justice and to make the copyright system as understandable and accessible to as many members of the public as possible. Let’s break down some of our milestones and review how we have created a truly accessible copyright tribunal.
Over the past year, the CCB and the Copyright Office have produced numerous resources to help explain the regulations and processes of the CCB to all users, including a comprehensive website, an extensive plain language handbook, and a number of supporting materials, including a one pager and forms. These resources complement a new filing system that was built to walk users through claims, responses, and other filings in an intuitive way. The result? In the CCB, both people filing claims (claimants) and those responding to them (respondents) can use these resources to represent themselves from start to finish instead of needing to hire an attorney. In fact, over 70 percent of participants in CCB proceedings are self-represented individuals and businesses. This makes bringing a claim to the CCB considerably less expensive than federal court, where the average cost to litigate a copyright case can be in excess of $300,000.
The Copyright Office knows that word-of-mouth is one of the most important and effective ways to share information and to build trust. To date, the CCB and the Copyright Office have participated in over sixty virtual and in-person outreach events to spread awareness of the Copyright Claims Board with everyone from creator groups and attorneys to universities and library organizations. Our audiences have come from almost every state in the United States as well as from over a dozen countries. The CCB is eager to continue to share its expertise with as many groups as possible. You can revisit one of our most popular webinars online and can even request a speaker for your own event here.
Pro Bono Support
You do not need a lawyer or a law student representative to file or respond to a CCB claim, although you may choose to retain or consult one if you’d like. To assist participants, the CCB has compiled a directory of law school clinics and organizations that work with law students to represent both CCB claimants and respondents. The directory includes organizations that are able to provide full scope representation, from filing a claim or responding to a claim through the stages of a CCB proceeding. The CCB also maintains a Pro Bono Assistance List, which includes organizations that provide services and resources at no or reduced cost for individuals and small businesses working in the arts and have informed the CCB that they are available for consultations. You can peruse the lists for support or sign up to help out at ccb.gov.
The biggest outcome from the CCB’s first year of outreach and operations? A brand-new opportunity to resolve disputes. Since June of 2022, 485 claims have been filed. They represent a copyright system that is working better and harder for more creators and users than ever before. Claimants have come from every geographic region in the country—forty-three states so far—and twenty-four countries! Both claimants and respondents who participate in CCB proceedings have lower costs thanks to the ability to represent one’s self, low filing fees, and discovery far more limited than federal court. For parties on both sides, federal court could have been out of reach, leaving little room for recourse or to resolve disputes, resulting in the disenfranchisement of many people who may have valid copyright claims but limited resources.
The Office’s Copyright for All goal is a commitment to a system that works for all creators and users of copyrighted works. After the first twelve months, we’re proud of our progress with the CCB and are looking forward to continuing our outreach and further supporting expanded access to the copyright system. To learn more about the CCB, visit ccb.gov. You can also sign up for email alerts on the CCB from the Copyright Office.
 U.S. Copyright Office, Copyright Small Claims p. 25, available at https://www.copyright.gov/docs/smallclaims/usco-smallcopyrightclaims.pdf