Update: The Copyright Claims Board At the Three-Month Mark

Copyright Claims Board logo

As Writer Beware wrote about a couple of months ago, the US Congress has created a tribunal (the Copyright Claims Board – CCB) administered by the US Copyright Office for small claims-size copyright decisions. It began operations on June 16.

Its charter called for transparency of process and one of the fascinating things about it so far is that it is possible to see in almost real time the docket of cases that have been submitted to it. After 3 months, as of today, the 16th of September, there are 149 cases. They are a mixed bag, to be sure, but a few preliminary conclusions can be reached.

  • The CCB has not been overwhelmed by hundreds of cases.
  • There are very few cases filed by individuals against individuals posting copyrighted material on the Internet. Most are against companies.
  • Most of the cases are being filed for infringement by photographers, graphic artists, and, to a lesser extent, musicians. Photographers filed a number of cases through lawyers, although a lawyer is not necessary.
  • There is a sprinkling of filings that seem to be from cranks who misunderstand the purpose of the CCB and/or what it can do. Some have no indication of the party who must be served to initiate the proceedings.
  • Not surprisingly, considering the newness of the process and built-in delays, these cases are taking time. Many claimants have had to file amended claims, presumably because of some irregularity in their initial filing. Of the first 100 claims, 24 have been found compliant and were directed to move to the next stage, serving notice to the respondent. Three were dismissed without prejudice. Twenty new claims were added to the docket in August and thirteen so far in September. At this rate, it appears that a backlog will accumulate rapidly, and to the best of my knowledge, the CCB hasn’t indicated what happens then. As they get up to speed, they may be able to catch up and keep up.
  • So far, there has been no major outcry on social media about the CCB’s cases or decisions. The only major case so far that has received much attention is because it was the only one filed by a large corporation, Paramount Pictures. The case is interesting, too, because it involves the use of images and names of a MacDowell’s, a parody of Macdonald’s restaurant in the films Coming to America and Coming 2 America, in a pop-up recreation of the restaurant. (The Coming to America films already have a history of litigation–though in the previous case, Paramount was the defendant.)

Of the cases that involve writers, only three may be of special interest to the readers of Writer Beware.

The first could have stepped directly out of the pages of the Writer Beware blog (and indeed, involves a publisher about which Writer Beware has gotten a number of complaints). An author signed a contract with Next Century Publishing. The book was published, and 6 months after the release date, the publisher emailed the author saying the company was closing down and the book’s files would be returned to author. Of course, the files were never returned, royalties were never paid, and the book is still for sale on Amazon and B&N. The author mentions that this is the second time they’ve been “taken advantage of by a publishing company.”

The second is more like a case out of Disney Must Pay, although it is also reminiscent of a situation not uncommon to authors who revert their rights from large corporations. In this, an author had a series of books published by various arms of a large publishing corporation and, when those books went out of print, reverted the rights and found a new publisher. Unfortunately, although this corporation no longer had any right to do so, it continued selling the two books on OverDrive for almost eight years after the rights to do so had reverted to the author.

The final book-related case worth noting was filed against the vanity press Dorrance for continuing to sell the author’s book on Google Play after the author “ended the contract” with Dorrance. The author did not include a copy of the contract or reversion letter in the claim.

These three claims may be typical of how the CCB will work for writers (or, they may not.) It’s too early to say, for example, if the respondents will opt out, or, in the case of the first, if the respondent can even be identified and served. There is some question as to whether the CCB will reject claims that involve contract disputes as opposed to plain infringement. In the case of at least two and possible all of the examples I found, the contract had terminated and was no longer relevant to the infringement.

Writer Beware strongly recommends that any such claim against a publisher should include a copy of the contract and/or the reversion letter and the author should clearly spell out that the rights being infringed were no longer under contract to the publisher.

SFWA’s Legal Affairs Committee submitted several comments to the Copyright Office in response to its Notices of Inquiry concerning implementation of the CCB, and it’s encouraging to see that the process is as transparent as we had hoped it would be. The first two months of its operation probably aren’t representative, but the committee is happy to see that none of the disastrous outcomes predicted by some do not seem to be happening.

Of course, it could be that the vast majority of potential claimants are simply waiting to see how the CCB works (or doesn’t) before they jump in, and there’s no guarantee that bad faith actors aren’t waiting in the wings. We will continue to watch as the number of claimants grows and cases are decided. So far, only six respondents have opted out, meaning that the case is over as far as the CCB is concerned. It’s still impossible to say what percentage of respondents will ultimately opt out, which will define the utility of the CCB going forward.

UPDATE 10/25/22: After another month, the three book-related cases mentioned in the blog post are slowly progressing through the system. All three claimants have had to file amended claims after their first submission contained errors. This appears to be a very common situation among all the claims. There’s also a glimpse of the power of the opt-out option.

Case 1 (22-CCB-0086 ): On October 21, the CCB issued an order to amend the original claim, which was found to be noncompliant because of two problems: “Amazon Legal Department was listed as the respondent for the claim rather than “Amazon.com Legal Services LLC,” the proper respondent entity. The CCB points out that the proper entity has a service agent listed in their Designated Service Agent Directory. Secondly, the CCB points out that the claimant hasn’t sent a Section 512 (DMCA) takedown notice, which is required before filing a claim. The respondent is given until November 21 to correct these errors.

Case 2 (22-CCB-0015): This case breezed through the initial procedures but hit a snag when the CCB itself seems to have sent a follow-up opt-out reminder that included a misstatement about the deadline for responding, so the deadline was extended to November 26.

Case 3 (22-CCB-0113): After the CCB requested and the claimant submitted a corrected claim, the CCB accepted the claim and directed the claimant to serve the respondent according to CCB procedures on October 6.

Opt-out (22-CCB-0013): A fourth book-related claim involved a case filed against Ingram Content Group & Lightning Source for distributing and selling a book before it was finished and ready for distribution and refusing to stop. Both Ingram and Lightning Source opted-out and the case was dismissed without prejudice.


  1. Thanks for your work! Could you please clarify: what does a respondent “opt out” mean? Thank you

    1. It means that the person or organization against which the creator has made a copyright complaint has the option to decline to participate in the process, at which point the claim will be dismissed. It’s the Achilles’ heel of the CCB, at least from the creator’s perspective.

  2. Author house sounds like they are the number one Hancho, and they birth new branches that are in tbe Philippines all employees have the same dialog with similar ancient.
    Thank you for being a watchman on the tower. Wish publishing books 📚 were not so shady in their ripping people off, it’s like they feed and rip off their prey, and laugh all the way to the bank. They were so bad when I caught them red handed ,demanding my money back. Which never happened $2400. They used Harper and Collins to real me in, by saying they want to sign a contract with you with the other 4 sequels of Eglion, that I was promised $120,000, that all I was paying was attorney fees, think about how they use our emotions as – hope that our books would become Famous.
    God will not forget their evil scheme
    They will have to stand in front of Adonai – Justice will be their lost souls, for ever.
    I had to forgive but will not trust this Book publishing World anytime soon.
    I was just getting ready to have my 3rd book published today, but you made it clear and Thank you, a client’s right to refuse to do business with professional scammers.

    Bless you, God is using you mightily

    Hallelujah! Blessings miyoko

  3. What do you think about self publishing company
    Author House? I have not received anything from the sales of my two books Eglion and What if we didn’t have to eat?
    I know Barnes and Noble book store carry both books- don’t the stores have to buy the books at full price ? I have been scammed by silver ink and another publisher company that is Associated with them. Even my bank said I was not scammed and took and made my bank negative- 1000$
    Bank of the west is naughty- for siding with the evil scammers. I don’t trust anyone the
    Author publishing Companies have certainly changed- every one gets to publish their own books – but no royalties when sold from Amazon, etc. Shish
    Being scammed is not fun, but in these last wicked days, we are all being deceived and taken advantage of, no Justice, but my rewards will be waiting in Heaven with our Lord and Savior, while these scammers will be left behind
    With evil and wicked people, gnashing and biting- sad times
    But, I have hope – Joy – For Salvation with Christ.
    I forgive this scammers, the owner said she will continue to taunt me, and get back at me through her other companies affiliated with her.

    What is your take on Author house?
    And, would do business with this self publishing company?


    1. Hi, Miyoko,

      I’m very sorry to hear about your experience with Silver Ink. You’re not alone: I’ve heard from many writers who were scammed out of thousands of dollars by this unscrupulous outfit.

      AuthorHouse is part of the Author Solutions family of assisted self-publishing services. The Author Solutions imprints have a very poor reputation for quality and service. Writer Beware has received many complaints of poor customer service, poor-quality products, and, especially, super-aggressive recruitment and sales tactics aimed at convincing writers to spend large amounts of money on overpriced and largely worthless marketing services.

      I’ve written extensively about Author Solutions on this blog; you can see all my posts here.

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