Online only

US Small Claims process opens its doors

THE US Copyright Claims Board (CCB) will open its doors to claims on 16 June 2022, reports Bloomberg Law. The Board will hear claims for breach of copyright up to US$30,000 - where the copyright is registered in the US.

Strictly, CCB claims are available only for works whose authors have applied for registration under US law and have not had it refused. (The US is the only country in the world that requires registration of copyright before it can be effectively enforced.) Writers and photographers can claim for "statutory damages" - amounts set in law - or for actual damages, with evidence of financial loss. In either case the maximum award is US$30,000 in any one claim and US$15,000 for any single work.

The Freelance now has to research how hard it is to make a claim from outside the US.

The CCB was established by the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act, passed in December 2020 "after 10 years of haggling", as Billboard put it.

In that haggling anti-copyright forces won one damaging provision. The person or company accused of infringing copyright can refuse to use the CCB process. The writer or photographer can then use only the traditional full-fat court process. That means fronting up legal costs that typically start at US$100,000 - which means that deep-pocketed infringers are lijely to continue to get away with it. Successful claimants may get a court order demanding that the losing side pay these leval costs - but only if they registered their work in a timely manner.