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The Copyright Claims Board (CCB): A New Forum for Copyright Disputes

The guide explains the new forum for copyright disputes, how to identify a notice, the proceeding processes, and actions the WashU community can take.

What it Means

A claim filed against you in the CCB means that a purported copyright owner, (a “claimant”) is asserting that you (a “respondent”) have infringed their copyright through something you have uploaded, reproduced, published, created, distributed, performed, or displayed. Only certain types of claims can be brought before the CCB:

  • claims of infringement of a copyright;
  • claims seeking declarations that specific activities do not infringe copyright; and
  • claims of “misrepresentation” in notices sent under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

The notice you receive signifies that the claimant has alleged one of these claims against you, but the notice does not mean you have actually infringed or that the CCB will ultimately determine you have infringed. There are many ways in which members of the Washington University community use works protected by copyright in the course of teaching, learning, and research, and it is possible that someone will claim that one of these uses was an infringement and file a claim with the CCB. For instance, there are key exceptions to copyright law that support teaching, scholarship, and research—most notably, fair use. These exceptions provide complete defenses to claims of infringement or, in some instances, permit a significant reduction of damages.

Further, not everything is actually protected by copyright. Claimants may believe they own copyright in materials that are not subject to copyright (e.g., because the materials reflect only facts or ideas) or are no longer protected by copyright (e.g., because the copyright in the materials has expired). Claimants may also believe that they hold copyright to materials for which copyright is actually held by a third party.

If you believe one of these situations applies to you—that is, that your use of the material is protected by an exception or that the allegations in the claim are not valid—you may wish to dispute the claim or opt out of the CCB proceeding entirely. We explain your options on the "Your Options" tab. Regardless, we recommend you seek legal counsel as soon as possible after receipt of a CCB case notice.