William & Mary Business Law Review


Copyright law in the United States incentivizes creative activity for the public benefit by granting creators an exclusive right to control their original works. Many individuals and small businesses rely on this right and the protection of copyright law to build their reputations as artists, create a market for their work, and secure a livelihood for themselves and their families. When someone violates this right and infringes on these individuals’ and small businesses’ copyrights, the forum for seeking redress and preventing future infringement is a lawsuit in federal court. But bringing a copyright infringement claim in federal court is expensive. And advancements in technology create new sources of potential copyright infringement. As early as 2006, Congress recognized that the combined escalating costs of copyright litigation and the increasing number of copyright infringements prevented many lower-income individual creators (“middle-class creatives”) and small businesses from enforcing their copyright. The result was that, for many of these individuals, their livelihood and incentive to create died by a thousand small cuts, with societal respect for copyright law suffering the same fate.

Because copyright law was only protecting the exclusive rights of copyright holders with the financial resources to bring a copyright claim in federal court, in 2020, Congress passed the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2020 (CASE Act). The CASE Act aims to remedy copyright law’s inequity by creating the Copyright Claims Board, an inexpensive dispute resolution process for small copyright claims under $30,000. Ideally, middle-class creatives and small businesses will be able to protect their exclusive rights to control their copyright by pursuing their copyright claims in this less-expensive forum. However, for a copyright holder who can afford to bring a copyright infringement claim in federal court, their copyright may be protected by an arsenal of legal and equitable remedies. In contrast, those individuals whose sole option is to bring a copyright infringement claim under the CASE Act will only be protected by legal remedies. This Note argues that the lack of injunctive relief available to copyright holders under the CASE Act will limit its effectiveness in protecting middle-class creatives’ and small businesses’ exclusive copyrights.