Introducing the Copyright Small Claims Court - Purple Fox Legal

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Introducing the Copyright Small Claims Court

By Purple Fox Legal

February 9, 2022

When someone wants to file a copyright lawsuit, it is typically done through a federal district court. However, this is a very long, expensive, and complicated process. Sometimes, the cost of the lawsuit even exceeds the possible relief. Thankfully, Congress recognized this issue and in December 2020, passed the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2020 (CASE Act). 

In this article, we’re talking about the CASE Act and the many benefits provided by its approval.

What is the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act?

The CASE Act was primarily responsible for establishing the Copyright Claims Board (CCB), which acts as an alternative to the federal court for copyright disputes. This board consists of a three-member tribunal within the Copyright Office, and is beneficial for resolving certain copyright disputes that are less than $30,000. In traditional federal court settings, damages can be as high as $150,000. Some of the main benefits of the CCB include:

  • It is streamlined and user-friendly

CCB proceedings typically don’t include formal motions and are designed for people to understand easily. In general, CCB proceedings require far fewer resources, like money and time, than those in traditional federal court settings. 

  • It is voluntary

The CCB is not mandatory. It simply acts as an alternative, and parties are free to opt for traditional federal court proceedings. 

  • It includes safeguards against abuse

When a party is caught making claims with the CCB in bad faith, they may be responsible for paying the other party’s legal fees. 

  • Decisions are posted online

CCB decisions can easily be viewed online by all parties involved. 

As mentioned above, the CCB acts as an alternative to the federal court for filing copyright disputes. While it is a voluntary forum, a claimant can only choose to file with either the CCB or the federal courts. They cannot file the same claim in both venues. 

One major benefit to filing a copyright infringement claim in a small claims court is that the work doesn’t have to be registered yet. As long as the claimant has applied, and the application hasn’t yet been denied, the CCB will hear a complaint. However, in Federal Court, registration of a work is a required prerequisite to filing a claim. Another benefit that cannot be forgotten is the cost. The cost of filing a claim with the CCB has not yet been determined. The ACT requires the fee to be at least $100, but never more than what it would cost to file a claim with the Federal Courts. 

When Can You File a Claim?

The CCB is not yet open for hearing claims, which means that claimants are still unable to file a lawsuit for this avenue. The CCB is expected to open for claims around Spring 2022. 

According to the CCB, they will hear claims within three years after the claim has accrued. And, while there is an option to opt-out of a CCB claim, the other party can still bring a federal lawsuit on it. Because an attorney is not required for CCB proceedings, parties are allowed to represent themselves; however, an attorney is allowed if it makes someone feel more comfortable. 

To read more about the Copyright Claims Board, and all its benefits, visit the CCB website