How a New Copyright Infringement Board Hopes to Help Ripped Off Content Creators

Professional content creators who come across their pirated work online can find themselves in an endless cycle.

Do you know much about copyright infringement law? If you don't, consider yourself very, very lucky. But for artists, photographers and other professional content creators who often find their work stolen without permission, the pursuit of getting compensated for their effort can often be both expensive and ultimately futile.

So all those grumpy cat memes you've been sharing, they have an original owner who probably has never seen a dime for most of the viral content that's been published using their image. Small business photographers who come across their pirated work online can find themselves in an endless cycle. Send a letter. Ask for a fee. Get ignored. But that might soon change.

Enter the Case Act.

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What is the CASE Act?

The Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act (CASE Act) was included as part of a omnibus spending and COVID-19 relief bill in December 2020, which was passed by Congress on December 21, 2020. It establishes a voluntary small-claims board within the copyright office to give copyright owners an alternative method to resolve claims for all categories of copyrighted work.

Who Serves on the CASE Claims Board?

Under the act, three full-time copyright claims officers will serve on the copyright claims board and no fewer than two full-time copyright claims attorneys will assist in the administration of the board. The copyright claims officers must have substantial experience in the evaluation, litigation or adjudication of copyright-infringement claims and have represented or presided over a diversity of copyright interests, including those of both owners and users of copyrighted works.

How Much Money Can be Awarded?

The board will make rulings with respect to claims, counterclaims and defenses of copyright infringement under the copyright law as well as claims for misrepresentation. Allowable damages before the board would be up to $30,000, with a subcap of $15,000 in statutory damages per work infringed, if the work was registered in a timely manner. If the work was not registered in a timely manner, statutory damages would not exceed $7,500 per work infringed, or a total of $15,000 in any one proceeding.