Copyright Office Proposes Small Claims Expedited Registration Procedures and FOIA Conforming Amendment

The U.S. Copyright Office is proposing procedures for a new expedited registration option, as directed by the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act, for a work at issue before the Copyright Claims Board (CCB). Additionally, as part of CASE Act implementation, the Office is proposing a conforming amendment to its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) regulations.

The proposed rule on small claims expedited registration enables a claimant or counterclaimant with a pending copyright registration application to seek expedited review of that application. They may request small claims expedited registration if they make a request and pay the requisite fee, but only after they have submitted the completed registration application and the respondent either has opted in to the CCB proceeding or has not timely opted out. The CCB cannot proceed with a dispute involving a work for which registration is still pending or has been denied.

Congress directed the Copyright Office to establish a process for small claims expedited registration to help facilitate the CASE Act’s goal of helping smaller-value copyright owners enforce their rights. Timely registration is a prerequisite to commencing copyright litigation for works of U.S. origin in federal courts. Small claims expedited registration reflects the reality that copyright owners who find federal litigation cost-prohibitive may also have chosen not to register their smaller-value works. Through the CCB, a claimant or counterclaimant may commence an action and then seek expedited registration before proceeding. Unlike the Copyright Office’s other expedited registration process—known as “special handling”—small claims expedited registration will only be available for works at issue before the CCB and will have a lower fee, in recognition of the objectives of the CASE Act.

Additionally, the Copyright Office is proposing a conforming amendment to its FOIA regulations to reflect that, per the CASE Act, only those CCB “determinations, records, and information” that are published on the Office’s website and that relate to a CCB final determination are subject to disclosure under FOIA.

Comments were due on May 26, 2021.