Last December 30, 2020, the US National Conference of State Legislatures published the FY 2021 Omnibus Appropriations Bill which was previously signed on December 27. Along with a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package and the $1.4 trillion government funding for pandemic aid, the legislation also includes two acts and two amendments relevant to intellectual property (IP) law.
The ‘‘Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2020’’ or the ‘‘CASE Act of 2020” establishes a type of copyright small-claims court that can deal with disputes with damages valued equal to or less than USD15,000 per claim or USD30,000 in total. The Copyright Claims Board may adjudicate cases involving copyright infringement, counterclaims, or misrepresented takedown notices as long as the amount of the claims are capped at the established amount. However, participation in the proceedings is deemed voluntary and rights to seek legal action in US district courts or to seek a jury trial remain.
While the CASE Act can be beneficial for copyright owners through the provision of an alternative forum in addressing copyright concerns, its effectiveness may be questioned due to the availability of an opt-out option, and its susceptibility to being abused by copyright trolls who may seek to aggressively profit from the new act.