The internet has ushered in an era where copyright infringement is more prevalent than ever. Traditionally, pursuing copyright infringement claims required navigating the complexities of federal court, deterring many small copyright owners due to the associated time and costs. To address this issue, the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act has been enacted to offer a more affordable, streamlined alternative to protect copyrights.
As the name suggests, the CASE Act establishes a small claims court-type system, known as the Copyright Claims Board (CCB), for copyright owners to seek damages under $30,000 for copyright violations.
The CASE Act allows relevant documents to be submitted without the need for in-person court appearances. The limited discovery process also reduces time and expenses involved, which may benefit all parties.
The CCB consists of three officers who collectively hear claims as a tribunal. Generally, only three types of small copyright claims may be brought to the CCB. These include: (1) copyright infringement claims filed by any copyright holder, (2) declarations of non-infringement brought by users, and (3) misrepresentation claims related to takedown notices under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
The CASE Act offers monetary damages as a remedy. Parties can choose to recover either statutory damages (within specific ranges set by the Copyright Act) or actual damages and profits (based on the actual harm and the profits made from the infringement).
The maximum recoverable amount is $30,000 in total damages, and any statutory damages are limited to $15,000 per work infringed. This excludes attorney fees and costs, which may be awarded up to $5,000 if a claim or counterclaim is found to be in bad faith.
No. However, the copyright owner must at least have submitted a copyright application. To bring a claim with the CCB, a party must have either a registration from the Copyright Office or a pending application to register the work(s). If the copyright application gets rejected later, the CCB will dismiss the claim without prejudice, allowing the party to file it in federal court.
In contrast, in federal lawsuits, a copyright owner typically needs to have a registration from the Copyright Office before bringing a case to court.
The CASE Act opens doors for smaller or self-published content creators to seek relief previously out of reach. Nonetheless, careful evaluation of individual circumstances is crucial to determine whether the CASE Act offers the most suitable path. Speak to a member of our team today if you are considering pursuing a copyright infringement claim.