Since the U.S. Copyright Office launched CCB operations about two months ago, the number of small copyright claims filed with the new Copyright Claims Board (CCB) continues to grow on a daily basis. As discussed in our CCB one-month snapshot blog, some of the claims filed immediately after the CCB was launched are finally moving forward in the process as the Copyright Claims Attorneys have approved these claims for service on respondents. In the coming months, we will get our first glimpse into how respondents react to the CCB and the claims filed against them, and more specifically, whether respondents choose to participate in the CCB proceeding or opt out of it.
While parties are getting acquainted with this new small claims tribunal, we at the Copyright Alliance have been working hard to help parties better understand the CCB. With this goal in mind, this week, the Copyright Alliance launched a new program called the Small Claims Opt-Out Protection (SCOOP) Program that is intended to further educate claimants about filing a case with the CCB and to help them recover their initial filing fee if a respondent opts out.
CCB’s Voluntary Nature Means Claimants Could Lose Out on Initial Filing Fee
The opt-out procedure is one of the key features of the CCB. The U.S. Constitution establishes the rights of a party to have a dispute decided by a federal court and to have a jury trial. However, a party is free to waive those rights. Because the CCB is not a federal court and a CCB proceeding never involves a jury, the process must be one in which the party is given the option to waive these rights, making the opt-out feature crucial to the structure of the CCB. This does not mean every respondent will or should opt out of a proceeding. There are many factors that would weigh into a respondent’s decision whether to opt out of the proceeding, which we will discuss further in our next CCB Series blog.
Obviously, claimants do not want the respondent to opt out of the proceeding. After all, claimants file CCB claims in the hope that the CCB will hear their case and decide it in their favor. But when the respondent opts out of the proceeding, the claimants would have paid a filing fee without having a chance for the CCB to decide their claims.
In light of this necessary drawback, the U.S. Copyright Office adopted a two-tiered fee structure so that a claimant would not lose the entire $100 filing fee if the respondent opts out of the proceeding. Under this two-tiered fee structure, a claimant is required to pay an initial $40 filing fee when the claim(s) are filed with the CCB, and the remaining $60 filing fee would only be due after the opt-out period is over and the case becomes active.
Copyright Alliance Launches SCOOP Program to Reimburse Claimant’s Filing Fee When a Respondent Opts Out
While the CCB’s filing fee is hundreds of dollars less than in federal court, we understand that the loss of the non-refundable $40 fee if a respondent opts out of the proceeding is not without consequence to individual creators and small businesses. To help counter this potential loss and to equip creators with knowledge about the CCB, we launched the Small Claims Opt-Out Protection (SCOOP) Program earlier this week, through which claimants can have their $40 initial filing fee reimbursed if their claims are dismissed due to respondents opting out. We hope that through this program, creators will become better acquainted with the CCB by reviewing our educational materials and videos so that they have an effective, additional tool for enforcing the copyrights in their works and they understand how to properly use that new tool.
A claimant interested in having their $40 filing fee reimbursed can apply to participate in the SCOOP Program. The program works as follows:
- Before filing a case with the CCB, the applicant (i) was a member of the Copyright Alliance so that they have easy, free access to all our educational materials about the CCB, and/or (ii) watched our Learn About the Copyright Claims Board video;
- The applicant files a case which is dismissed by the CCB because a respondent in the case opted out;
- After the case is dismissed by the CCB due to a respondent opting out, the applicant becomes a member of the Copyright Alliance, if they are not already a member, and then completes and submits the SCOOP Application; and
- After reviewing the application and the case, the Copyright Alliance approves the application.
During the application review process, the Copyright Alliance will be using several criteria to decide whether to reimburse a claimant under the SCOOP Program. For example, we will not reimburse foreign claimants or claimants who filed their claims with a co-claimant. Other factors that would result in a denial of the SCOOP application include:
- the applicant was not a member of the Copyright Alliance when they filed their case with the CCB and did not watch the video before filing;
- the applicant has already been reimbursed three times through the SCOOP Program;
- the information provided in the application creates an actual or potential conflict of interest for the Copyright Alliance; and
- the applicant did not comply with SCOOP Program requirements.
Learn More About the SCOOP Program
We have lots more information and details about the SCOOP program on our website, including a visual guide of the SCOOP Program process, to help prospective applicants understand how they can apply and get reimbursed through the program. Additional details about program requirements can be found in the SCOOP Program participation terms and conditions. Creators can also reach out to us with questions about the Program or generally about the CCB by calling our CCB hotline at 1-888-5403-CCB or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also continue to provide more information and educational materials for creative professionals to help understand the ins-and-outs of the CCB process and how they can better understand filing and responding to claims made in this new small copyright claims court. Check out our CCB Explained webpage to access answers to FAQs, Copyright Academy videos, and other resources about the CCB. Through these materials and the SCOOP Program, we hope creators will become more knowledgeable about the CCB so that they can readily navigate and access their CCB proceedings and meaningfully enforce their copyrights as Congress intended.
If you aren’t already a member of the Copyright Alliance, you can join today by completing our Individual Creator Members membership form! Members gain access to monthly newsletters, educational webinars, and so much more — all for free!