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I’ve been creating and publishing content for about 15 years, and sometimes I’ve been robbed of content. It’s frustrating and exasperating, but in the age of the internet when you just need to copy and paste to steal content, it will happen.
Keeping track of your content in the digital age can be a bit like playing a mole. Fix a problem and a new one appears.
When I discover content thieves in action, I typically file a notice to withdraw the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) from the content thief’s web hosting, and the content is typically removed from the Internet.
A DMCA withdrawal is quick and efficient, but there is no way to recover lost revenue with a DMCA withdrawal. It’s just to remove stolen content.
But what if you have a bigger case and content theft costs you money or someone else benefits from your work?
Until now, if you wanted to receive financial compensation for copyright infringement, you faced the lengthy and costly task of filing a federal lawsuit.
A new legal avenue has recently been opened which aims to be simplified and easier to use than a traditional infringement lawsuit. It is called the Copyright Claims Board (CCB). The goal is to give creators an easier way to hold people who steal their content accountable, but there is already some controversy over how the CCB is set up.
Related: YouTube begins checking for copyright infringement as videos are uploaded
How the Copyright Claims Board works
If you are a creator and someone slides your YouTube video, Instagram images or the content of your website, the Copyright Claims Board offers you an alternative to filing a lawsuit in federal court and having a jury or a judge decides your case.
It’s a voluntary system, but there are some caveats to be aware of when it comes to being a “volunteer”. More on that in a bit.
The maximum prize you can get is $ 30,000. This is well below the maximum federal aid of $ 150,000 for legal damages or more for actual damages.
One of the best things about the CCB is that all procedures can be done remotely. This means that you do not have to travel to appear before a judge or jury to hear your case. The remote nature of the CCB is a great advantage and can mean much less travel expenses.
The claims in your case are heard by a three-member court. These experts have a high level of experience in claims for copyright infringement. Once both parties agree that their case be heard, the court’s decision is binding.
The reality is that suing for copyright infringement in the federal judicial system is, at best, cumbersome, so this new board could prove to be a great benefit to creators seeking to protect their original works.
The CCB seems like it could be cost-effective and fast, which a federal court rarely is. But there are some potential drawbacks that you should also consider.
Related: Why you should consider copyrighting your work
Potential pitfalls of the Copyright Claims Board
The biggest criticism of the CCB is that it is voluntary and a defendant can simply choose to leave if he does not want a case to be heard against them.
If you are notified of a CCB claim, you can opt out within 60 days. If you disable it, the person filing the claim can take it to federal court if they want to, or they can abandon it altogether.
However, if you lose your notice and do not disable yourself, then the CCB’s claim is binding and you are waiving your right to a jury trial. This means that if you are notified of a CCB complaint, you should make sure you respond quickly to any decisions you make.
There are also extremely limited appeal processes with the CCB. You can ask for a review or ask a federal court to overturn the CCB ruling, but the rules for doing so are very strict.
Basically, you are stuck with what the CCB decides as your new reality.
Decide whether or not to use the CCB
The CCB is a legitimate and new alternative to resolving smaller copyright claims, but it also has its drawbacks.
If you want to file a claim, it is a good idea to consult with a legal professional who is well acquainted with copyright law to decide which is the best course of action.
If you receive a claim, you will want to make sure that you receive legal advice on whether you want to accept or deny it immediately. The clock is always ticking when it comes to the deactivation process.
Ultimately, whether or not you use CBB for any copyright infringement you may face depends on the circumstances of your situation.