The Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act (CASE Act) was passed by Congress on December 21, 2020 and signed into law on December 27, 2020 as a part of a much bigger omnibus spending bill.
What Is It?
The CASE Act creates a “Copyright Claims Board” (the Board) within the U.S. Copyright Office which can hand out awards for copyright infringement for those seeking damages of $30,000 or less. Of consternation to its critics, decisions by the Board are binding unless a party proactively opts-out of the claims process. Opt-ing out isn’t a one time thing, either. A person must do this every time a claim is filed against them. While the opt out system has not yet been put in place (the Copyright Office has until the end of 2021 to create it), once in place, if you receive a notice of infringement and do nothing, the assumption will be made that you have “opted-in” to the process. The Board’s decision will be binding and you will have limited recourse to appeal or overturn it. On the other hand, claims of infringement handled in court have multiple levels of appeal. Critics of the CASE Act fear that the law does not protect individuals from copyright trolls and “sophisticated actors”, such as large companies, especially if a person does not understand the opt-out process. Large copyright owners may also target those using materials under fair use.
You can find out more about the history of the CASE Act here.