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Enforcing Rights Just Got Much Easier for Copyright Owners

Rights-holders may be awarded damages by submitting an infringement notice with the Copyright Claims Board.

Copyrights are very expensive and timely to enforce.

The United States established the Copyright Claims Board (CCB), which allows copyright owners to file disputes and resolve issues more efficiently and avoid an expensive federal court case. Comprising three members who are well-versed in copyright law, the CCB was developed from the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act of 2020.

Damages can't exceed $30,000, which seems like a lot. If you use an attorney you can get an additional $5,000 and $2,500 if you don't. But if you're a musician with work that gets stolen from someone whose track ultimately goes Platinum, you could likely sue for much more in damages.

"Copyrights [are] an issue for federal courts only—it's not a state courts claim," explains Davey Jay, an entertainment and intellectual property attorney and Partner at Florida law firm Meehle and Jay. "What that means is that it gets wildly expensive to hire attorneys and the court case takes a couple of years (if you're lucky it's only two years). That discourages a lot of people from enforcing their rights because they can't afford it or they don't want to deal with it."

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To submit an infringement notice with the CCB, the plaintiff will need to file a complaint through the board's electronic filing system. Once they complete the notice, pay a small fee (around $100) and submit it to the CCB, the defendant will be notified.

Once the defendant is notified of the infringement, they can choose to opt out, which isn't something you can do in federal court. By opting out of the case, however, the defendant isn't in the clear. The plaintiff may still file in federal court. The case is then reviewed by the CCB's panel of copyright litigators, who will award damages. 

Copyright owners have five exclusive rights: Reproduce, Adapt, Publicly Display, Perform and Publish.

If anybody other than someone who is authorized and legally able to do so carries out any of those actions, they may be subject to a copyright infringement case, which could have severe implications. In fact, they can cost up to $250,000 in damages per infringement. This is especially true—and runs rampant—for those who sample other artists' music without permission.

To learn more about the CCB, visit their website.

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