US Congress passes expansive new copyright measures

As a part of COVID-19 relief bill (Consolidated Appropriation Act 2021, pp. 72,77), the US Congress has passed major changes to the copyright regime. The changes include:

  • ‘Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2020’ or the ‘CASE Act of 2020’, introducing a tribunal of ‘Copyright Claims Officers’ resolving infringement claims. As outlined in the bill, copyright holders could be awarded up to US$30,000 if they find their creative work being shared online. Internet advocacy and civil rights groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union have warned that this system could cost the average internet user thousands for simply sharing a meme or lead to limiting free speech rights online. The supporters of the passed legislation like the Copyright Alliance, argue it is now easier for independent artists to bring about copyright claims without going to US federal courts.
  • ‘Protecting Lawful Streaming Act’ (dubbed Felony Streaming Bill) that severely punishes streamers that pirate large amounts of copyrighted content with up to 10 years of imprisonment.

Additionally, Senator Tillis (R-NC) has released discussion draft legislation called ‘Digital Copyright Act of 2021’ after a year-long review of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).