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Copyright Office Solicits Feedback on Copyright Small Claims Board

The CASE Act, mandating a small copyright claims board (CCB), was signed into law at the end of the previous session of Congress. As expected, the Copyright Office is soliciting feedback from stakeholders on how the CCB and the process for using the tribunal will be devised. Two such inquiries were published by the Office this Spring. The Guild joined the comments submitted by the Copyright Alliance and the Coalition of Visual Artists in response to the inquiries.

The first, “Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (‘‘CASE’’) Act Regulations”, was a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) asking for feedback on proposed regulations to govern the CCB and its procedures. This will be the first of many inquiries. The Copyright Office intends to put out additional notices focusing individually on the regulatory categories covered in this general inquiry. The Graphic Artists Guild, with our colleagues in the Coalition and in the Copyright Alliance, will be responding to subsequent notices in the best interests of graphic artists.

The Copyright Alliance’s comments addressed each regulatory concern raised by the NOI. However, the main concern raised by the Alliance was that the CCB procedures adopted by the Office be simple, clear, and easily navigated by both claimants and respondents without legal counsel. (The Alliance also submitted reply comments, responding to comments made by other stakeholders.)

The Coalition’s comments focused on their proposed step-by-step of the process by which a claim could be brought. Specifically, the process would follow a set schedule from the date of filing a claim, and the discovery process would be limited with an automated exchange of information (with additional discovery both optional and limited. The Coalition proposed that the Copyright Office website include an informational page with examples of claims and links to additional resources for potential claimants to consult before initiating a claim. Bringing a claim should be through a dynamic online system, utilizing plain-language forms which visual artists can understand.

The second inquiry by the Copyright Office was a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) on CASE Act “Expedited Registration and FOIA” regulations. Since claimants may need to expedite a copyright registration to initiate a claim in the CCB, creating an affordable, easy process is critical. The NOPR recognized that many small copyright holders do not routinely register their work. The Copyright Alliance’s comments largely supported the proposed rulemaking, but asked for clarification on some of the proposals or language. The comments also requested that payment methods for using the expedited service accommodate individuals without credit cards or access to banking methods.