Copyright Claims Board: New Enforcement for Small Copyright Claims

A copyright protects creative works that are fixed in a medium (photography, writing, video) from being copied and exploited without the creator’s permission.  A copyright exists the moment when the original work is fixed in some media.

While copyrights exist on many different types of creative works, infringement frequently goes unpunished because litigation is expensive and long, copyright damages are hard to prove, and the lawsuit requires registration with the Copyright Office first. The new Copyright Claims Board strives to provide a new avenue for a creator to enforce their rights. It is similar to a “small claims court.”

Some of the key features of this new proceeding are:

  • Limited Claims & Limited Damages. The CCB is only permitted to resolve: claims of infringement of a copyright, claims seeking delcarataions that certain activities do not infring a copyright, and claims of misrepresentation in notices send under the Digitial Millennium Copyright Act. The amount of damages cannot be more than $30,000.
  • No attorney needed. The intent is that anyone should be able to represent themselves without the use of an attorney. However, since you will be waiving the right to bring the claim in federal court if you go through the CCB process, it is prudent to at least consult with an attorney prior to filing in order to assess whether you should use the CCB or if there are other better options for you.
  • Easy to use. All CCB filings (which are limited) are submitted online and the hearings are held through video conferences. This saves on time and expenses, as compared to federal court.
  • Participation is voluntary. No one is required to go to CCB rather than federal court. A respondent can opt out of the proceeding. In that case, the platiniff would be able to bring the matter in federal court.
  • No trolls allowed. In order to protect against a party bringing a CCB claim in bad faith (acting in a dishonest, intentionally misleading or abusive way), CCB may order the wrongful party to pay the other party’s reasonable costs and attorneys’ fees. These fees can be up to $5,000, but are limited to $2,500 for parties representing themselves, with some discretion for truly egregious behavior. The CCB also limits the number of claims someone can bring each year. It also has the authority to ban parties or their representatives who have repeatedly acted in bad faith from filing new claims for one year and may even dismiss their pending claims.

When faced with someone infringing your creative work, it is important to have the situation reviewed as soon as possible to determine the best avenue to remedy the situation and maximize your recovery. The CCB is only one option.

If someone stole your work, please give me a call.

Ginny Cascio Bonifacino, Esq.



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