Copyright Claims Board Opens

The new Copyright Claims Board, or CCB, will hear certain copyright disputes involving claims of up to $30,000. Parties can now file a claim, opt out of a proceeding, reference CCB Handbook materials, and contact the CCB with questions onĀ

No one is required to argue a dispute before the CCB; If you have a copyright claim, you can choose to go to federal court instead, and your respondent, should you choose the CCB, can opt out of the CCB proceeding. If the respondent chooses to opt out, you can still bring a lawsuit against that respondent in federal court.

You don’t need a lawyer to appear before the CCB; they take pro se matters. However, as in any legal matter, you know the old adage about the lawyer representing him- or herself… The Board hears claims related to infringement, declarations of non-infringement, and claims of misrepresentation in notices sent under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Further, even if your claims fall within one or more of the categories the CCB can hear, if the claim is more than $30,000, the CCB cannot hear it; the case, if it cannot be resolved, must go to federal court.

All CCB matters are conducted online; you do not need to travel to Washington, DC (the home of the Copyright Office) to have your matter heard. Hearings are handled through video conferencing.

If you have a copyright dispute that falls within the parameters of what the CCB can hear, this three-member tribunal, whose members have extensive expertise in copyright matters, gives you a streamlined alternative to federal court proceedings. It is designed to be less expensive and faster than bringing a case in a federal court. However, like all arbitration-like processes, the CCB’s decision is final. Except for abuse of discretion claims (where the CCB tribunal members abuse their power in deciding a case), once the case is decided at the CCB, that’s the end of it. You cannot bring the matter in federal court.

This is a useful device the Copyright Office has established. It will help to lessen the caseloads on the civil dockets of the federal courts. It will lessen the expense of settling disputes. And it gives some consistency to copyright arbitration, which is currently conducted under the rules of each of the 13 federal court circuits … and yes, those rules differ.

For more information about copyright and other intellectual property matters, visit Delain Law Office’s website.

Copyright Law Turns 300 Years Old

Copyright turns 300 – Boing Boing.

The Statute of Anne, the first modern copyright law, is now 300 years old. The Statute of Anne is the precursor of the copyright law as it exists today in the US and in Great Britain today, although those two progeny sets of law differ in several of their details. I write from the point of view of a lawyer in the US.

I disagree with this author, who thinks copyright is in place to stifle the creative muse. Copyright is in place “…To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries; …” United States Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Clause 8.

The author states: “Today, ‘copyright curriculum’ warns schoolchildren not to be ‘copycats’ – to come up with their own original notions.”

Copyright does not protect notions (ideas). Copyright protects the expression of ideas. I cannot read your mind to show that you, in your mind, copied someone else’s work; to show infringement, I must show that a “substantially similar” copy exists of a work that is protected by a valid copyright. We do have a problem with uncredited copying of others’ materials; that is both copyright infringement and plagiarism.

The author of this piece says he learned to write by picking Star Wars apart. As a copyright lawyer in the USA, I have no problem with that; it’s a fine way to learn to write. The author was engaging in making a fair-use derivative of Star Wars: he copied the story for educational purposes, and I doubt very much that he ever published his Star Wars derivative. Fair use is an absolute defense to the copyright of others.

However, there are those who would, if given the legal chance, be more than happy to copy Star Wars (or any other successful franchise). The intellectual property laws are in place to protect the originators and owners of the successful (and not so successful) products of human thought.