The Copyright Claims Board: Good News or Bad News for Communication Scholars?

Patricia Aufderheide, Aram Sinnreich


The U.S. Copyright Claims Board (CCB), created in 2020 by the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act, creates a nonjudicial administrative venue to resolve copyright infringement claims up to $30,000. Supporters claim it will help “little guy” creators protect their work. Detractors claim that it will increase corporate intimidation and copyright trolling. We surveyed communication and Internet scholars to assess appetite for risk when challenged for an appropriate fair use and legally permitted reuse of copyrighted material. We found that the CCB does not serve its stated purpose because of scholars’ fear of legal entanglements. Nor will it offer scholars a way to protect copyrighted work because well-informed defendants are most likely to opt out of the venue. We believe the actions of the nascent CCB deserve scrutiny from communication and Internet scholars particularly because the Copyright Office must report to Congress on its effectiveness after three years.


copyright, communication, scholarship, fair use, Copyright Claims Board, right to research, freedom of expression

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