IP Laws Squirreled Away Into COVID-19 Package

Most people didn’t even notice any of the tiny itty bitty reforms squirreled away into the COVID-19 package that Biden’s administration passed in March, but one had major implications for IP law moving forward. It was called the Consolidated Appropriations Act, and it contained a small clause called the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2020.

One of the biggest changes is how federal law approaches the pirating of TV, movies, and music through online platforms. The most important thing to know? If you get caught streaming copyrighted materials to turn a buck, you can be charged with a felony. That means you won’t be going to the county jail if they catch you — you’ll be going to federal prison, and maybe not for a short stint.

We previously mentioned a separate stipulation of the law, which allows for the creation of a new dispute resolution process — something that was sorely needed for copyright and IP law. 

Do you believe your copyrighted material was stolen or used without your consent? All you need to do is file a claim with the Copyright Claims Board, which is situated in the U.S. Copyright Office. This is for small claims only. The board is made up of three claims officers who will be appointed by the Librarian of Congress. The board will decide whether or not you have a solid case.

The good news is that this claims process does not require you to have an attorney. However, a defendant can opt out of the process so long as they do it within 60 days of receiving the notice. Failure to opt out means the defendant cannot fight the claim in front of a jury or in federal court.

The law also limits the types of discovery available to both plaintiff and defendant. Discovery might include documentary evidence, depositions, or written requests for additional information.

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