Copyright Claims Board Processes and Procedures
How is a CASE Act proceeding different than a proceeding in federal court?
The CASE Act creates a much less formal, streamlined process than exists in federal court. As a result, there are many differences between the two types of proceedings. For example:
- The CASE Act’s small claims process is designed to enable parties to represent themselves rather than having to hire an attorney to represent them;
- Participation in a case before the CCB is entirely optional;
- Participation in a case before the CCB occurs remotely;
- The “discovery” process is limited in a CCB case (“discovery” is the process that allows each party to gain access to important evidence from other parties);
- There is no formal motions practice (formal requests made to a court, e.g., a motion asking the court to dismiss a case);
- Damages for copyright infringement would usually be much less in a CCB proceeding than in federal court because the CASE Act limits statutory damages to a maximum of $15,000 per claim, with a cap on the total amount of damages that can be awarded in each case to no more than $30,000. In contrast, there is no cap on the total amount of damages allowed in federal court;
- the CCB cannot award attorneys’ fees or costs to the prevailing party unless a party has brought a claim, counterclaim or defense in bad faith;
- The CASE Act includes numerous safeguards to prevent against frivolous lawsuits and trolling that do not exist in the federal court;
- Injunctions are not available in a CCB case unless both parties agree. Whether a losing party agrees to the terms of an injunction in a CCB may be a factor the Officers consider in determining the damage award.
How will the CASE Act prevent trolling and other abuses?
The small claims process is 100% optional. When a claim is brought before the CCB the respondent can opt out if they believe the claim to be abusive or frivolous (or for any other reason). In addition, the CASE Act discourages bad faith claims, counterclaims and defenses, and other abuses by granting the CCB the authority to not only dismiss frivolous claims, but also to:
- award attorneys’ fees of up to $5,000, or more in extraordinary circumstances;
- prohibit the bad faith actor from filing a case for one year; and
- dismiss all pending cases filed by the bad faith actor.
In addition, the CASE Act allows the Copyright Office to issue regulations restricting any one person or entity from bringing more than a certain number of cases in a year. There is no such restriction on the number of cases that can be filed in federal court.
Do parties still have the option to settle during an active case?
Yes. Even after the case has begun, the parties can request a settlement conference and/or submit a settlement agreement to the CCB.