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Copyright Blog

Copyright and COVID?

Copyright legislation part of 5000+ page omnibus bill

In late December 2020, the Consolidated Appropriations Act (the "Act") was passed into law. The Act, which was initially drafted to address COVID relief, is over 5,000 pages and includes two separate copyright bills: the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act (the "CASE Act") and Protected Lawful Streaming Act (the "Streaming Act"). We have previously reported on the CASE Act here, here, and here.

Among other things, the CASE Act creates the Copyright Claims Board (the "Board"). According to the CASE Act, the Board was designed to "serve as an alternative forum in which parties may voluntarily seek to resolve certain copyright claims regarding any category of copyrighted work.”

Because copyright law is federal law, copyright litigation has occurred in federal court. The CASE Act purports to create a more streamlined and less expensive option for those who are involved in copyright litigation. Copyright matters brought before the Board will have a less expensive filing fee, the proceedings will be done remotely, and there will be no discovery.

The creation of the Board has been met with mixed reactions. Proponents argue the Board allows content creators to better protect their intellectual property due to less expensive costs and a more streamlined process. Opponents claim that a cheaper and easier process is an incentive for copyright trolls (those who aggressively and frequently file lawsuits for monetary gain) to prey against other content creators.

The second copyright law included in the Act is the Streaming Act. The Streaming Act prohibits offering or providing “to the public a digital transmission service” for “purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain.” The Streaming Act was designed to close a legal loophole that provided disparate penalties for illicitly reproducing and distributing copyrighted content versus livestreaming copyrighted content.

In the past, livestreaming copyrighted content was a misdemeanor whereas reproducing and distributing copyrighted content could be charged as a felony. With passage of the Streaming Act, illicit streaming of copyrighted content can be charged as a felony with penalties of up to a maximum ten years imprisonment.