Coming Soon: A Small Claims Court for Copyright Infringement

Coming Soon: A Small Claims Court for Copyright Infringement
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If the CASE Act is passed, will musicians finally be able to fight back against piracy and theft?

On October 4th, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Tom Marino (R-PA) introduced the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act.  The bipartisan solution would help “artists, photographers, filmmakers, musicians, songwriters, authors, and other creators” enforce their rights against unauthorized reproductions.

According to Jeffries and Marino, piracy and theft affect the majority of copyright owners.  Yet, filing paperwork to file an infringement claim usually costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions.

If passed, the US Government would create a Copyright Claims Board.  Three Copyrights Claims Officers, appointed by the Librarian of Congress, would serve a six-year term.  Accordingly, they would adjudicate and settle infringement claims.

In addition, the Register of Copyrights would hire “no fewer than 2 full-time Copyright Claims Attorneys.”  Copyrights holders could then file claims at a small claims court in the US Copyright Office.  Damage awards would be capped at $30,000.

Participation in a small claims proceeding would also be “on a voluntary basis.”  Respondents will have the option to opt out.  The small claims court would preserve the right to allow any party to “pursue a claim [or] counterclaim.”  Claims would have to be made within three years of the offense.

In a statement about the CASE Act, Rep. Jeffries said,

The establishment of the Copyright Claims Board is critical for the creative middle class who deserve to benefit from the fruits of their labor.  Copyright enforcement is essential to ensure that these artists, writers, musicians and other creators are able to commercialize their creative work in order to earn a livelihood.  The CASE Act will enable creators to enforce copyright-protected content in a fair, timely and affordable manner.  This legislation is a strong step in the right direction.

Rep. Marino added,

Creators, solo entrepreneurs, photographers, and artists often struggle to enforce their copyright in a timely and cost-efficient manner.  This can subsequently hinder creativity and prevent these professionals from being able to sustain a profitable livelihood.  Accordingly, the CASE Act provides a boost to copyright holders and allows a forum for timely resolutions.  This is a positive step in the right direction.

The bill has received support from multiple organizations across the US, including the NMPA and Songwriters Guild of America.

You can check out the CASE Act here.


Featured image in the Public Domain