Hi everyone, I recently learned that the US Congress passed the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act (the CASE Act) in December 2020, which established the Copyright Claims Board, which is essentially a small-claims court specifically for copyright infringement matters with a claim limit of $30,000. All appearances are always virtual.
At first glance, this seems like a good thing for small copyright holders who can now bring shorter, less expensive suits to enforce their rights. However, critics argue that the CASE Act is not enough because the infringer has the ability to simply opt-out of the proceeding by “going online and checking a box”. This puts the parties back in their original legal positions, leaving the claimant open to bring a suit in federal court. Others say that the CASE Act increases the risk of lawsuits being brought against people who have no idea that they’re infringing copyright, such as people posting memes or posting professional wedding photos on social media (although there are penalties for bringing frivolous suits and a limit to the number of claims people can file). There are also concerns that the Act violates the separation of powers, making it unconstitutional.
Personally, I think access to an administrative tribunal such as this can potentially be very beneficial to small creators and artists who may otherwise be barred due to financial reasons from bringing infringement claims. The benefits will definitely depend on some operational choices of the tribunal, and how regulations may respond to the concerns highlighted above. In particular, I really do not see the rationale behind the opt-out system, and I feel that it undermines the purpose of the entire Act. Perhaps someone in the class can think of an idea of why that is…
Some articles about the CASE Act: