Congress passed an act on Monday as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2021 that included the COVID-19 relief bill, expected to signed by President Trump, which will establish a voluntary dispute resolution process in the Copyright Office for infringement claims not exceeding $30,000. The Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2020 (the CASE Act) requires the Copyright Office to establish a Copyright Claims Board (the Board) to provide dispute resolution processes for parties involved in small copyright infringement claims.
Cases would be decided by a three-judge panel of copyright claims officers where damages would be capped at $15,000 per claim and $30,000 total. There is an opt-out procedure for defendants, but if the parties agree to this process, they forgo the right to be heard before a court and the right to a jury trial. The parties also will bear their own attorneys’ fees in the proceeding, except in the case of bad-faith conduct of a party.
In addition to deciding infringement claims, the Board may hear claims of noninfringement and of knowing misrepresentations in takedown notices and counterclaims. The parties asserting claims must have at least filed a copyright application, and the Board will not render a decision unless and until the copyright registration issues.
As reported in the press release on copyright.gov, Shira Perlmutter, Register of Copyrights and Director of the U.S. Copyright Office, said, “The Copyright Office has long supported a solution for the challenges posed for asserting small copyright claims and is pleased that Congress has passed the CASE Act. We are looking forward to implementing the Act and providing access to dispute resolution for the parties involved in such claims.”
Additionally, Congress passed a law setting forth criminal penalties for willfully streaming to the public copyrighted works – for commercial advantage or personal financial gain – without authorization.