A small claims process for copyright infringement cases has not been available in the United States until now. A new remedy for small copyright claims will be available within a year, thanks to the passage of the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2020 (the CASE Act). The CASE Act creates a three-officer tribunal called the Copyright Claims Board (CCB) within the US Copyright Office to review small copyright claims. This is good news for smaller entities that hold copyrights to their works, see instances of infringement, but do not have the resources to pursue claims in federal court.
The primary problem small businesses & individual artists were facing
The CCB will help those that feel the current system provides rights but no practical remedies when someone else profits from their work without their permission. The US federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over copyright. To challenge an infringement, you must go through federal litigation, which, before the forthcoming CCB, would be time-consuming and expensive. Accordingly, many cannot afford to defend their rights and recoup funds. For example, a photographer’s or visual artist’s work is not legally licensed for reproduction but appears on gift-making websites that make personalized shirts, mugs, cellphone cases, etc. The copyright holder can notify the website and submit a takedown notice. Even if successful, more infringements can occur. All the while, the copyright holder is not recouping any money. The copyright holder may have felt as though they were in a perpetual loss cycle. This is where the CCB is supposed to help.
What kind of claims will the CCB hear?
The CCB can hear three types of claims by copyright owners and users, as well as all defenses (like fair use) and counterclaims allowed in federal court:
- Creators can bring infringement claims against those who are infringing their works;
- Users can request that the CCB issue a declaration of non-infringement stating that their activity does not infringe the copyright owner’s exclusive rights; and
- Users who received a takedown notice can challenge it.
- Creators who receive a counternotice may also challenge that counternotice.
When will the CCB begin operating?
The CASE Act requires that the CCB begin operating within one year of the date it was enacted: December 27, 2020. However, the Act provides a six-month extension for delays associated with the pandemic. At the latest, the CCB should begin operating by late June 2022.
Protection for you now
Do not wait for the CCB to become operational if you believe you have valid copyright infringement claims. When we work together, you are working with someone who has been practicing Intellectual Property Law exclusively since 1996. I will actively work to help you identify, register, and police your inventions, brands, and creations. Even if you’ve worked with an intellectual property attorney before, I can enhance and elevate any work that you’ve done, which will help you refine and succeed with your business plan. I look forward to hearing from you.
Additional source: CASE Act Signed Into Law: What This Means