Copyright Small Claimsa Gift to Copyright Owners

Are you a copyright owner with an infringement claim of less than $30,000? If so, there is possibly good news for you. In December 2020, Congress passed the Copyright Alternative in Small Claims Enforcement of 2020 Act (CASE Act). This CASE Act instructed the U.S. Copyright Office to create a tribunal which would provide relief for certain copyright disputes. The tribunal is known the Copyright Claims Board (CCB). It will start hearing cases this Spring.

Why CASE Act and Create the Copyright Claims Board?

Because copyright law is federal law, all copyright lawsuits must be brought in federal court. If you have plenty of time and even more money, that’s not a problem. However, because federal litigation is costly, copyright infringement actions are largely a benefit granted to the wealthy. Therefore, the average copyright owner has few to no remedies available to them if they discover unauthorized use of their copyrighted content.

With a lot of prompting from stakeholders, Congress recognized this issue and passed the CASE Act. The hope is that the CCB will provide a cost-saving and efficient way to  resolve small copyright disputes.

Benefits of the Copyright Clams Board.

If you are a copyright owner with a small claim, here are some reasons you should consider filing with the CCB: 

  1. User-friendly. The system will be a lot easier to navigate therefore easier for you to file.
  2. Streamlined procedures. Unlike federal court where you have mounds of discovery and endless motions, CCB matters do not include formal motions and limited discovery.
  3. Claims less than $30,000. Monetary damages are capped at $30,000. No one can sue for more than $30,000.
  4. It is voluntary. You are not required to file a claim.  Likewise, can choose to opt-out if a claim is filed against you.
  5. Safeguards against abusive practice. For example, there may be limits as to how frequently a party can file in one year.
  6. CCB decisions will be posted online.

While there are limits to what a small claims plaintiff can expect, there is the opportunity to have their day in court. For more info on the CCB and the benefits

Francine D. Ward
Attorney-At-Law, Author, Speaker

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