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 Bucknell’s Office of General Counsel promptly if you receive a CCB notice related to your work at Bucknell
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 Bucknell 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.
Bucknell encourages the appropriate use of copyrighted materials in accordance with copyright law. Under Bucknell’s Copyright and Fair Use Policy, “[i]n some circumstances, such as in cases where employees believe they are following the law and University policy in good faith, the University may provide for defense and indemnification of faculty and staff members in cases of alleged copyright infringement.”
A genuine CCB case notice will include:
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.” Under CCB rules and applicable Pennsylvania law, you can receive service in person, but not by postal mail or email. If you’ve received a CCB notice solely by email, be careful. It is likely fake, and you should avoid providing personal information in response.
If you’re a Bucknell student, staff, or faculty member, and the claim is related to what you do at Bucknell, contact Bucknell’s Office of General Counsel promptly using the links provided below. As noted above, you may qualify to have the University defend you against the claim.
You will need to 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.
Bucknell 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 Bucknell.
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 Bucknell 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
If the claim is related to what you do at Bucknell, contact Bucknell’s Office of General Counsel.
If the claim is unrelated to your work or scholarship at Bucknell the university cannot provide you with legal representation or legal advice. However, there may still be someone who can provide you with materials and resources to help you better understand your options. If you’re not sure who to contact on your campus, or whether your claim relates to what you do at Bucknell, contact email@example.com.
Established by the 2020 CASE Act, as part of a COVID relief bill, the federal Copyright Claims board is intended to operate as a small claims court for potential copyright infringement. Reviewing a dispute through the board is intended to be much quicker, simpler, and lower cost than traditional litigation. While this will hopefully allow smaller creators greater protections, critics have raised concerns about power dynamics, a relative lack of awareness of this board, and a potential chilling effect on Fair Use.
This process is voluntary and opt-out. If someone makes a claim against you, you will receive two notices. Do not ignore these notices, or you may be liable for up to $30,000 in damages if you are found to be infringing. You can learn more about opting out on the Review Board's respondent resources page.
While much is known about the intent and structure of the board, legal and information experts are keeping an eye to see how the board will be used and learn more about the nature of the process. If you have any questions, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.