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US Senate passes Small Claims process

BILLBOARD magazine reports that on 21 December, "after 10 years of haggling, Congress officially passed the The Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act... as part of the Omnibus Covid-19 Relief Bill." This follows more than a year in which one Senator, Wyden of Oregon, prevented the Bill from going to a vote in the US Sentate.

The CASE Act sets up a Copyright Claims Board. If - and only if - both parties agree, their cases will be heard far more cheaply than in full-fat Federal court. The Board may award "statutory damages" of up to $15,000 per work or $30,000 per claim. A full-fat court can award up to $150,000 in statutory damages per work if the infringement is found to be "wilful".

The procedure would apply only to works whose authors had applied for registration and not had it refused. (The US is the only country in the world that requires registration of copyright before it can be effectively enforced.) It would also allow writers and photographers to claim for actual damages, instead of those statutory amounts.

The Freelance is checking whether there are other barriers to using this procedure from outside the US.