If you have been following the Copyright Office over the past eighteen months, you have probably seen updates about the Copyright Claims Board, or CCB. In December 2020, Congress passed the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act, which tasked the Copyright Office with establishing the CCB, the nation’s first copyright small claims tribunal.
We have been hard at work ever since! Between hiring announcements, rulemakings, and launching a new website, we have been getting ready to open the CCB’s doors to the public. On June 16, 2022, we officially opened the CCB for business, which means claimants can now file claims and respondents can weigh the benefits of participating in CCB proceedings.
Now that the CCB is here, you may be wondering if it is right for you. Below are some of the fundamentals to help you get ready to file or respond to a claim.
Remind me, what is the CCB?
The CCB is a three-member government tribunal designed to be a fair, accessible, and far more affordable alternative to federal court. It may resolve certain copyright disputes involving claims up to $30,000.
Staffed by attorneys with deep experience in copyright law, the CCB can hear three types of disputes: claims for copyright infringement, claims seeking a declaration of noninfringement, and claims regarding misrepresentations when filing a takedown notice or counter-notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
All CCB proceedings will be held virtually, so while the CCB is housed within the Copyright Office in Washington, DC, no one will need to travel to DC to participate.
Who is the CCB for?
The CCB is for all types of creators and users of creative works protected by copyright.
The CCB is for copyright owners, including photographers, musicians, poets, visual artists, vloggers, and more. If you are a creator or other copyright owner in any of those areas or industries, the CCB is a way for you to enforce your rights without going to federal court.
The CCB is also for users of creative works. If you receive a notice that someone has filed a claim against you, you can resolve that dispute through a CCB proceeding in a way that is much less expensive and time-consuming than going to federal court. Also, if someone has accused you of infringing their copyright, you can file a claim before the CCB to get a “declaration of noninfringement,” that is, a determination that you were not infringing someone else’s work. When you resolve a claim with the CCB, it also prevents the same claim from being taken to federal court.
The CCB is for individuals and businesses alike. Anyone is eligible to use the CCB to resolve copyright disputes, including individuals, partnerships, and businesses, large and small. You do not have to hire an attorney to participate in a CCB proceeding, and your business can designate a non-attorney representative to receive claims from the CCB on its behalf.
I think I may have a claim for the CCB. What do I do next?
If you are filing a claim with the CCB, you are a claimant. Your first step is registering for eCCB, the CCB’s electronic filing and case management system. Once you are signed up, you can initiate a claim before the CCB.
If you think you have a claim but still have some questions about the process, visit our website and check out the new CCB Handbook. If you still have questions, you can reach out to the CCB by emailing [email protected]. CCB staff cannot provide legal advice, but they can provide factual information about the CCB and its proceedings.
I have been named as a respondent in a claim before the CCB. What now?
If a claim is filed against you, you are a respondent. As a respondent, you will receive the information you need to either participate in the proceeding or opt out. If you participate in the proceeding, the CCB determination is binding, and you cannot be sued again by the same party on the same claim in federal court. If you opt out, the claimant can still take their claim against you to federal court. The CCB Handbook provides a detailed comparison of the CCB and federal court.
To learn more about the process, you can visit the respondent information page or read about your options in the Handbook. You can also email the CCB with questions at [email protected].
How do I get more information?
To learn more, visit the CCB’s full website at ccb.gov.