Resolving Small Copyright Claims Through The Copyright Claims Board

Litigating copyright infringement in federal court is expensive. Many copyright claims are unlikely to result in a sufficiently large award of monetary damages to justify the expense of litigating in court. The Copyright Claims Board of the US Copyright Office provides a voluntary, cost-effective way to litigate and resolve small copyright claims.

Jurisdiction of the Copyright Claims Board

Types of Claims

Copyright infringement

• Claims seeking declarations of non-infringement

• Misrepresentations in takedown notices or counter-notices under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act

• Counterclaims related to the same set of acts which resulted in the claim, including contract claims affecting the rights to the copyright at issue.

• All legal and equitable defenses

Participation in a proceeding is voluntary. If a claim is filed, and the other party does not wish to proceed, the claim is dismissed without prejudice. The Copyright Claims Board does not have the power to issue subpoenas, so all witness testimony is voluntary.

Limit on the Number of Clams Filed

A party cannot file more than 30 claims per 12 month period. Individual lawyers cannot file more than 40 claims within a 12 month period, and law firms cannot file more than 80 claims within a 12 month period. This limit is intended to prevent use of these proceedings by copyright trolls.


Discovery in proceedings before he Copyright Claims Board is limited to a standard set of interrogatories and standard set of requests for production of documents. Depositions are not conducted.

Presenting Evidence

Each party presents their case by submitting written statements from the party and from any witnesses, as well as any evidence. Hearings, which are held remotely, can also be requested.

Maximum Monetary Damages Award

Because the Copyright Claims Board is a small claims tribunal, awards of monetary damages by the Copyright Claims Board are limited to $15,000 per infringed work, and $30,000 total for infringement of a registered copyright. It is possible to obtain an award of monetary damages for works which do not have a date of registration prior to the commencement of infringement, but damages for these works are limited to $7,500 per work.

Participants may also request a smaller claims procedure wherein damages are limited to $5,000.

Very Limited Right of Appeal

Once the Copyright Claims Board has issued its ruling, appealing that ruling is only available in limited circumstances. Reconsideration must first be requested of the Board based on a clear legal or factual error. If reconsideration is denied, review by the Register of Copyrights can be requested, but only if denial of reconsideration can be shown to be an abuse of discretion. Suit cannot be filed in federal court, but a federal court can be asked to reverse, modify, or correct a Copyright Claims Board decision if the decision was the result of fraud, corruption, misrepresentation, or other misconduct, if the Board exceeded its authority, or if a default was the result of excusable circumstances.