Copyright Claims Board Providing Alternatives to IP Lawsuits

April 5, 2023

Julie C. Hancock

In today’s ever-evolving world, who has the time or money for an exhausting months-long lawsuit? Nobody wants to go to court (unless you’re a big Judge Judy fan). Enforcing copyrights takes action, however.

Enter the Copyright Claims Board which officially launched on June 16, 2022. The purpose of this board is to take the burden of small copyright claims off the shoulders of the courts and the involved parties, moving cases quickly. A small claim is defined as any claim worth $30,000 or less. In our last article, we noted this amount would cover any case where “willful infringement” has not been proven.

So, what is this board exactly and what has it done for copyright law in its first several months of operation?

What is the Copyright Claims Board?

The board was established by and is overseen by the U.S. Copyright Office after Congress passed the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act to expedite registration and establish the board for small copyright claims.

Three individuals are appointed to the board by the Librarian of Congress based on recommendations from the Register of Copyrights. The first three panelists assigned to the board are experienced intellectual property attorneys.

How Do I File a Claim?

In order to file a claim, you can simply visit the CCB website and register for their electric filing and case management system in order to proceed. While there are no limitations on who can qualify as a claimant with the board, the $30,000 case limit provides small businesses and creatives with a perfect alternative to filing an expensive lawsuit to defend their work.

When a claim is filed, the other party will be notified and given the opportunity to defend themselves. If the party refuses to go in front of the board then the claimant can pursue the case in federal court. It will often be in the best interest of both parties to work with the board and await the legally-binding decision by the three-member board.

The Copyright Claims Board is Already Handling a High Case Load

Initial skepticism that businesses and individuals would dismiss the small claims process and move straight to filing litigation in federal court has seemingly been dismissed by early returns. According to an article by Bloomberg, the board had already taken on hundreds of cases in the early months of its existence.

Many of those cases have been dismissed, which means neither party had to waste time and money in federal court over a matter that held no merit in the eyes of the board. Of the nearly 300 initial cases, visual artists made up more than half of the cases filed. This bodes well for artists’ ability to file claims through the board.

Three-member Panel Renders Its First Decision

In the first decision rendered by the board in February 2023, the three-member panel sided with a photographer who pursued action against an attorney who used his photo without permission on a commercial legal website. This case perfectly encapsulates the purpose of the board as this initially started as a lawsuit filed by the photographer before both parties agreed to shift the case to the claims board. While the board sided with the photographer, the $1,000 in damages rewarded fell well short of his claim of $30,000.

Think You Have a Claim?

The idea of a “small claim” may lead you to believe that you can DIY your copyright claim, but we are still talking about tens of thousands of dollars in many cases. If you need help navigating the claims board or require legal support for your claim, contact Your Virtual Advocate today.

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