U.S. Copyright Office Launches “Small Claims Court”

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[author: Claire Colby]

Filing a copyright lawsuit just got a little bit easier. In June 2022, the Copyright Claims Board (CCB) began accepting cases. The CCB, which will function as the U.S. Copyright Office’s “small claims court,” will now be hearing cases involving monetary damages of up to $30,000. Congress established the court via the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2020 (CASE Act).

According to the CCB website, the CCB will provide a “streamlined” and “less expensive” alternative to federal court for those contemplating bringing copyright related claims. The court will be housed within the U.S. Copyright Office in Washington, D.C., but court proceedings will be handled remotely. Participation in the court is voluntary, but litigants who bring their claims to the CCB cannot later sue in federal court.

Those looking to participate in proceedings in the CCB can proceed with or without an attorney. Only three types of claims will be handled: copyright infringement, claims “seeking declarations that specific activities do not infringe copyright,” and claims of misrepresentation brought under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Unlike in federal copyright suits, parties can sue for works not yet registered with the Copyright Office. The CCB does require an application be filed to register the work but provides a mechanism for expedited review.

Three CCB officers, appointed by the Librarian of Congress on behalf of the Register of Copyrights, will hear cases. Attorneys David Carson, Monica McCabe, and Brad Newberg will serve as the first three officers. Each has significant copyright experience, and they will be supported by additional copyright attorneys and paralegals. For more information on the Copyright Claims Board, visit the CCB website at ccb.gov.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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