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Copyright: The Law and Guidelines

What is the CASE Act?

 When cases of infringement arise, copyright lawsuits are tried in federal court. When the dispute is about small copyright claims arise, the cost and effort of a federal lawsuit can outweigh possible relief and make a legal resolution difficult.

The CASE Act, signed into law in December 2020, aims to provide a more efficient and economical option to resolve these sorts of small copyright disputes by establishing a three-member Copyright Claims Board (CCB), bypassing the need to go to federal court at the outset. The CCB process is streamlined and largely paper-based, requiring fewer resources than a federal trial.

The CCB will be able to consider claims that do not exceed $30,000 and seek relief for

  • Infringement;
  • Declarations of noninfringement of an exclusive right (when a party accused of infringement wants a legal statement that they are not liable for infringement);
  • Misrepresentations during the notice and counter-notice process of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA);
  • Counterclaims related to the same transaction or occurrence that is the subject of the original claim; and
  • Legal or equitable defenses under copyright law or that are otherwise available.

It is important to note that this is a voluntary copyright small claims process. You will not be required to bring your claims to the CCB and you will be able to opt out if you receive a claim, which terminates the CCB proceeding. If you do opt out, however, a claimant may still take a case to federal court.

The CASE Act limits damages to $30,000 maximum; there is no limit in Federal Court, so there is incentive to participate. Respondents will receive notice from both the claimant and the CCB and are given 60 days to opt out before the proceeding becomes active.

CASE also penalizes those found be filing frivolous claims or for making threats in an effort to extort cash settlements in a number of ways, further protecting creators and users. The CCB can do this by awarding up to $5000 in attorney's fees, prohibiting that person or agent from filing for one year, and dismissing all their other pending cases. The Copyright Office can also issue regulations limiting the number of cases a party or entity can bring in a year. The fee for filing a claim is non-refundable each time a respondent opts out.

The Copyright Office has been directed to establish regulations to govern these actions, and the CASE Act should be fully enacted by mid-2022.

For More Information

Copyright Small Claims and the Copyright Claims Board. U.S. Copyright Office.

Copyright Claims Board Frequently Asked Questions. U.S. Copyright Office.

Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (“CASE”) Act Regulations. The Federal Register, 3/26/2021.

Quick Facts. U.S. Copyright Office.