What is the Copyright Claims Board (CCB)?
The CCB is a small claims forum housed within the Copyright Office (at the Library of Congress) for a limited number of common copyright claims. The CCB was established through an act of Congress in 2020 (the CASE Act) and began to hear cases in June 2022.
The purpose of the CCB is to make it easier for individuals or organizations to pursue small dollar copyright infringement claims that otherwise are too expensive for those with limited resources. From the standpoint of some companies and nonprofit institutions, the easier access provided to copyright plaintiffs may be a mixed blessing. Some CCB complaints may be quite legitimate. Unfortunately, others may be nuisance claims or meritless complaints against educational, scholarly, critical, or creative uses that are well-protected as fair use.
What does CCB mean for me/my company/ institution? What are key action steps?
- All individuals and institutions are potentially subject to CCB claims.
- CCB claims must be filed with the CCB and service must be properly made on a respondent for a CCB claim to move forward. You can designate an agent for service of process of CCB claims through the CCB: https://ccb.gov/designated-service-agent-directory/.
- Both parties must agree to participate in a CCB proceeding for it to move forward. If they do, the claim cannot be brought again in the courts.
- Respondents have 60 days from the date of service to choose to opt in or out of the CCB proceeding. If the respondent opts in, they have the right to file counterclaims, including a claim for a “declaration of noninfringement.” If the respondent opts out, the CCB claim does not move forward, and the claimant has the right to file a lawsuit on the same issues.
- The CCB is made up of three-member tribunal, with “extensive expertise in copyright matters.” You can learn more about the CCB process and read their bios here: https://ccb.gov/about/.
- CCB procedures are conducted entirely online, with limited discovery. Its “determinations” cannot be appealed to the courts except in very limited circumstances.
- Monetary damages are capped at $30,000 for all claims. These can be based on statutory or actual damages calculations.
Special Note re Libraries and Archives
- Public libraries, including all libraries at public colleges and universities, are automatically opted out of CCB claims.
- Libraries at private institutions can opt out of CCB claims. Many are choosing to do so to avoid dealing with a large volume of claims. Here is the opt out form: https://ccb.gov/libraries-archives-opt-out/.
- Note that, for higher education institutions, opting out only exempts your library and archives, not the rest of the institution.
For additional guidance, we recommend the following articles from the Association of College & Research Libraries: https://crln.acrl.org/index.php/crlnews/article/view/25453/33363 and from the Authors Guild: https://www.authorsguild.org/industry-advocacy/copyright-claims-board-opens-on-june-16/.