As part of the omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, the US Congress amended the Copyright Act on two key topics. The amendments proscribed the commercial streaming of copyrighted content, without authorization from the copyright owner. Doing so is a criminal offense punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.

The amendments also establish a new Copyright Claims Board, a tribunal for copyrights small claims within the U.S. Copyright Office, authorized to adjudicate copyright infringement claims and award up to $30,000 in damages. The board will be comprised of 3 attorneys, and the proceedings brought before it will be conducted as bench trials, i.e., without a jury. Decisions of the Copyright Claims Board are appealable to the Register of Copyrights, who heads the U.S. Copyright Officer, but proceedings are voluntary for litigants in the first place. A defendant will have the right to opt-out of Copyright Claims Board adjudication within 60 days of receiving a complaint, in which case the plaintiff can assert their claim in federal court.

CLICK HERE to read the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.