Fees Associated with Bringing or Defending a Case Before the CCB
How much does it cost to file a claim with the CCB?
The total fee to file a case with the CCB is $100, which is hundreds of dollars less than the fee to file a case in federal court. The CCB filing fee is actually split into two separate payments: a first payment of $40 and a second payment of $60, for a total of $100.
When is each fee due?
The initial filing fee of $40 is due when the claimant files their claims with the CCB. A Copyright Claims Attorney will review the claims and if they approve them, the claimant then notifies the respondent about the claims, usually through something called service of process. The respondent has 60 days after being notified about the claims to opt out of the proceeding. If the respondent has not opted out after the 60-day opt-out period ends, the CCB will issue an order asking the claimant to pay the second filing fee of $60. The claimant must pay the second filing fee within 14 days of the CCB order.
Why is the filing fee split into two fees?
To ensure the CCB is constitutional, participation before the CCB must be voluntary, which is why respondents have the right to opt out of a CCB proceeding. Congress recognized though that when a respondent chooses to opt-out, the claimant can lose out on their filing fee without having their claims heard by the CCB. This runs contrary to the intent that the CCB process be affordable and accessible for claimants. That is why Congress proposed a two-tiered fee would be better where the first fee is relatively small, lessening the financial burdens on claimants if the respondent opts out and the Copyright Office decided to adopt this two-tiered fee structure.
If someone brings a claim for copyright infringement, does that $100 filing fee you just mentioned cover the cost of registering the work that is subject to the infringement dispute, or would that be a separate fee?
An infringement claim or counterclaim cannot be filed with the CCB unless the copyrighted work that is the focus of that claim has been registered with the Copyright Office or the registration application is pending with the Copyright Office. In some cases, the copyright owner of the work will have already registered the work well before bringing the infringement claim or counterclaim. But for copyright owners who have not yet submitted a registration application for the work, they can submit a registration application to the Copyright Office immediately before filing their claim with the CCB.
To be clear, the fees to file a registration application with the Copyright Office are separate from the CCB rules and proceedings. The registration fees will depend on the characteristics of work or works being registered including the type of work, if there are groups of works being registered together, and the publication status of the work or group of works. Costs usually range between $45-$95 for filing an electronic registration application or for filing a registration application for a group of unpublished works. An exact schedule of registration fees is available on the Copyright Office’s website at: https://www.copyright.gov/about/fees.html You can also learn more about registering your works in our Copyright Academy video about registration.
Lastly, regarding copyright registration, it is important to note that the CCB cannot make a final decision in a proceeding until the work or works in the proceeding are registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.
It takes on average 3-4 months for the Copyright Office to consider and decide to register or reject a registration application. But under certain circumstances, for instance if the copyright owner is planning to bring a lawsuit in federal court, they can pay a special fee to expedite that process and get a decision within just a couple weeks, possibly less. Normally, this fee is $800, is there a different expedited review fee for an application to register a work involved in a CCB proceeding? If so, how much is the fee and how would someone apply for that expedited registration?
Yes, the fee is much less expensive for a pending registration application of a work that is part of a CCB proceeding. For a work at issue in a CCB case, the copyright owner would request expedited registration through the eCCB system and pay the accompanying $50 fee. But there are 2 important things to keep in mind: (1) this request can only be made once the case becomes active (in other words, after the 60-day opt out period ends and the respondent has not opted out), and (2) the request must be made through the eCCB system and not the regular Copyright Office registration system. The CCB regulations state that the Copyright Office will aim to complete the expedited review within 10 business days.
At the outset of the proceeding, are there any fees that a Respondent would have to pay? More specifically, what if the Respondent files their own claims (or counterclaims as they are called) or defenses in response to the claimant’s action, are there any fees for them to do that?
No. There are no fees to file counterclaims with the CCB or raise defenses in response to a claimant’s action.
We have talked about filing fees and registration fees, are there any other fees that might arise after the case is filed that might apply to the claimant or the respondent?
There is another fee that may arise at the end of the proceeding but only in certain circumstances. After the CCB issues a final determination in a proceeding, a party who is not satisfied with the determination can, under certain circumstances, request that the CCB reconsider it. There is no fee to request a reconsideration of the final determination.
If the CCB denies the party’s request for reconsideration, that party can then request that the Register of Copyrights review the CCB’s decision to deny reconsideration.
If the CCB grants the request for reconsideration and changes the final determination, the opposing party can then request reconsideration of the new final determination if they are unsatisfied with it. And if the CCB were to deny that request, the party could also request that the Register review the CCB’s decision to deny the request.
In both cases there is a fee to request the Register’s review. That fee is $300.
Other than the fees we discussed, are there other potential costs that someone involved in a CCB case might incur?
The CCB was meant to be an affordable alternative to federal court, meaning that the process is relatively inexpensive. For example, there are no travel costs associated with appearing before the CCB since all hearings are conducted virtually. Additionally, the CCB system is designed to be a simple and understandable process so that parties can represent themselves in a CCB proceeding (also known as appearing “pro se”), meaning that parties shouldn’t have to spend the money to hire an attorney either.
Additionally, if the CCB determines that a party has engaged in bad faith conduct, the party acting in bad faith may end up having to cover the other side’s legal costs and attorney’s fees— and these may be awarded by the CCB even when the other party does not have an attorney.
The Copyright Alliance has a special program called the Small Claims Opt-Out Program or SCOOP program for short. Participants in the program can get their initial $40 fee reimbursed if the respondent opts out of the proceeding. Can you discuss that program and tell everyone where they can find out more information and apply?
[Note: The Copyright Alliance is no longer operating the SCOOP Program or accepting applications for the program as of August 1, 2023.]
The SCOOP Program is a new program that the Copyright Alliance is launching to help individual creators counter a potential loss of the $40 initial filing fee if their CCB proceeding is dismissed by the CCB due to the respondent’s election to opt-out. The Copyright Alliance will reimburse the $40 for applicants who have been approved to participate in the SCOOP Program. Interested copyright owners can learn more and apply to participate in the SCOOP Program on the programs page on our website. But applicants must first be a member of the Copyright Alliance, so if you haven’t already, join the Copyright Alliance to take part in this new program and to access other benefits and educational content like these Copyright Academy webinar series.