Congress Passes CASE Act of 2020 and Law Regarding Unauthorized Streaming Services
Issue No. 866 - December 22, 2020

Late last night, Congress passed the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2020 (the CASE Act) and a law on penalties for certain digital transmission services that make unauthorized uses of copyright-protected works for profit, both as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. These provisions now await presidential signature before they are enacted.

The CASE Act establishes a voluntary, streamlined adjudication process in the Copyright Office to consider copyright infringement matters for claims that do not exceed $30,000. It is the result of years of congressional attention and includes many of the recommendations set out in the Office’s Copyright Small Claims report, including coverage of all types of copyright-protected works and the ability for accused infringers to seek clarity regarding exceptions and limitations.

The law requires the Office to establish the Copyright Claims Board within one year of enactment, unless the Register of Copyrights, for good cause, extends the time period for no more than 180 additional days. The Office will soon begin implementing the law and will provide updates via its NewsNet service as appropriate.

Shira Perlmutter, Register of Copyrights and Director of the U.S. Copyright Office, said, “The Copyright Office has long supported a solution for the challenges posed for asserting small copyright claims, and is pleased that Congress has passed the CASE Act. We are looking forward to implementing the Act and providing access to dispute resolution for the parties involved in such claims.”

Additionally, Congress passed a law that provides the Department of Justice with the authority to bring felony charges against digital transmission services offered to the public for financial gain that are designed, provided, or marketed for the purpose of streaming copyrighted works without authorization, and have no other commercially significant purpose or use. The legislation was the result of a negotiated process among a number of consumer and industry groups, and was drafted to exclude criminal prosecution of individual users.