What is the Copyright Claims Board?
The Copyright Claims Board (CCB) is a new tribunal established in 2022 by the Copyright Office at the direction of Congress. The CCB hears “small claims” copyright disputes involving not more than $30,000 in damages. If you receive a valid CCB notice, that generally means that someone is asserting you have infringed their copyright and has filed a claim at the CCB seeking redress. You have the right to opt out of having that claim heard by the CCB, but if you wish to do so, you must opt out on a timely basis. Please do not ignore a CCB notice. Contact general counsel Sheri Curran (x8058) promptly if you receive a CCB notice related to your work at Augustana.
Why did I receive a CCB notice?
In most CCB cases, the person who initiates the case (the “claimant”) is claiming that the person receiving the notice (the “respondent”) infringed the claimant’s copyright. There are many ways in which members of the Augustana community use works protected by copyright in the course of teaching, learning, and research, and it is possible that someone will claim that one of these uses was an infringement and file a claim with the CCB.
If you receive a CCB notice, it does not necessarily mean that you have infringed someone’s copyright. The claimant might not be right, either about the facts or about the law. To give just one possible scenario, the author of a book might claim that an instructor infringed their copyright by sharing part of their book online. In such a case, the instructor’s sharing of the author’s work might have been infringement of the author’s copyright; on the other hand, it might have been fair use, or the infringement claim could fail for other reasons.
How can I identify a genuine case notice from the CCB?
A genuine CCB case notice will include:
A URL for one or more pages on the CCB website at ccb.gov.
A docket number. You can go to the CCB website and enter the docket number on your notice, and the information on the website should match the information on your notice.
Someone who has initiated a CCB case against you has to provide you with proper notice of the case, and the requirements about providing notice are referred to as “service of process.” (For more information, refer to the CCB's FAQ page.) If you’ve received a CCB notice solely by email, be careful. It may be fake, and you should avoid providing personal information in response until the authenticity of the notice is confirmed.
What should I do if I receive a CCB notice?
If you’re an Augustana student, staff, or faculty member, and the claim is related to what you do at Augustana, contact campus counsel promptly using the information provided below. Depending on the nature of the claim and its relation to your work at Augustana, the College may handle the matter.
A respondent must decide whether to opt out.
If you opt out by the deadline, the claim against you will not proceed in front of the CCB, and the claimant cannot restart the same claim against you in front of the CCB without your consent. If the claimant wishes to pursue the infringement claim against you, they will have to sue you in federal court. In making your decision, consider the following:
Suing in federal court is more expensive and complex than the CCB’s small claims process, so many claimants will not want to incur the expense, especially if their claim is not a strong one.
Augustana employees likely have broader protections in federal court than in the CCB, so a timely opt-out may be a good option, particularly if the claim is related to what you do at Augustana.
If the claimant does sue you in federal court and ultimately wins, you may have to pay a higher amount than you would have to pay if the claimant won before the CCB.
If you don’t opt out by the deadline:
The case will proceed before the CCB. The case will be decided by claims officers of the CCB, not by a judge or jury. The CCB predicts that most cases will be handled completely online, so you will not need to travel to Washington D.C., where the CCB is located.
You will be bound by the CCB’s decision. If the claimant wins, you or Augustana may have to pay up to $15,000 for each infringed work, with a maximum of $30,000 per case.
CCB determinations are final. There are only limited circumstances — such as fraud, corruption, or misrepresentation — when a CCB determination can be reviewed by a federal court or the Copyright Office.
If you don’t opt out by the deadline and don’t take any action in the CCB proceeding:
The claimant can proceed (even without your involvement) as long as they can demonstrate you have been provided sufficient notice of the CCB case.
The CCB may enter a default judgment against you and order you to pay up to $30,000. Do not ignore a CCB notice.
If you decide to opt out, you must:
Complete and return the paper opt-out form provided with your notice, or complete an online opt-out form on the CCB website, within 60 days of receiving the notice.
Whom should I contact for help at Augustana?
If the claim is related to what you do at Augustana, contact general counsel Sheri Curran (x8058).
If the claim is unrelated to your work or scholarship at Augustana, the college cannot provide you with legal representation or legal advice.
Source: "If You Receive a Copyright Claims Board Notice," University of California Copyright, University of California, accessed July 20, 2022. Used under CC BY-NC / Slightly adapted to local context from original.