Good news for photographers and independent creatives has arrived as the CASE act was officially signed into law this week. This gives creatives a massive change in the way they can defend their copyrighted images and provides them a way to help collect compensation for those who misuse their work.

The CASE Act is part of a MASSIVE $1.4 Trillion omnibus spending and COVID relief bill that’s over 5,000 pages long, but don’t worry, we’ve got some of the key details to outline below.

The Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) act was introduced a year ago to help establish a system for copyright small-claims to allow content owners to take legal action against infringers on a smaller scale rather than filing costly and time-consuming lawsuits in federal court. This system will allow photographers to have an alternative to hiring expensive attorneys for these situations as well.

[Related Reading: European Union’s Top Court Backs Photographer Copyright in Landmark Ruling]

While people can still file these lawsuits in federal court, this system is designed to assist those who cannot afford that expense. Instead of filing that federal lawsuit, photographers can bring the infringement claims before a copyright claims board within the US copyright office, with the ability to award photographers up to $15,000 per work and $30,000 per claim, assuming the works are registered with the office. (So side note photogs out there, get those images registered asap!). Unregistered work would be eligible for $7,500 and $15,000 respectively.

In addition to this, the Copyright Board could also (or alternatively) send a cease & desist notice to the infringer.

“The CASE Act has been a critical legislative priority for hundreds of thousands of photographers, illustrators, graphic artists, songwriters, authors, bloggers, YouTubers, and many other creators and small businesses across the country,” writes the Copyright Alliance. “For far too long, these individual creators have had rights but no means of enforcing them due to the expense and complexity of federal court.

“With [the] passage of the CASE Act, creators will have a voluntary, inexpensive and streamlined alternative — a small claims tribunal that will be housed within the U.S. Copyright Office — enabling them to defend their copyrighted works from infringement.”

[Related Reading: Copyright Infringement Laws Guide | ImageRights Copyright Primer & Cheat Sheet]

You can read the full Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 here. Regardless of the complexity, this is huge news for creatives who’ve had their work stolen, copied, and used by other individuals and corporations for monetary gains. So what do you think of this new Act?  Have you had your images stolen and used by others in the past? Would you take advantage of this process now to file a claim? Have you filed a copyright claim in the past? Let us know in the comments below.