A copyright small claims process is closer to reality today after a bipartisan group of Congressional representatives introduced the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2017, HR 3945, also known as the CASE Act.
The CASE Act creates a version of a small claims court within the Copyright Office, allowing copyright holders to present their claim before claims officers. In this process, which is voluntary, the damages awarded would be limited to $30,000 for any one proceeding.
Bringing a copyright infringement claim in federal court – currently the only option for creators whose work has been infringed – is often lengthy and costly. Many independent photographers opt not to pursue infringements because of the high cost of federal court, leaving those photographers without a remedy. The copyright small claims process is designed to be simplified and limit or eliminate the need for expensive legal fees.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA). Representatives Doug Collins (R-GA), Lamar Smith (R-TX), Judy Chu (D-CA), and Ted Lieu (D-CA) have co-sponsored the bill.
“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,” Jeffries said in a press release.
NPPA’s attorneys Mickey Osterreicher and Alicia Calzada have worked for years with fellow visual arts groups, members of Congress, and the Copyright Office, in an effort to push for a solution for copyright small claims. A coalition of groups representing visual artists, which is co-chaired by Osterreicher and Calzada, issued a press release in support of the bill. The coalition includes the National Press Photographers Association, the American Photographic Artists (APA), American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), Digital Media Licensing Association (DMLA), Graphic Artists Guild (GAG), North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) and Professional Photographers of America (PPA).
“We are thrilled on behalf of all visual artists to see our many years of work towards establishing a small copyrights tribunal finally take this first step,” Osterreicher said.
The coalition said in the release that if passed, the bill would give smaller individual creators the same kind of protections that larger scale creators have enjoyed for years.
“What we now need is a grassroots effort to encourage all members of Congress to support and enact this legislation,” said Calzada. Photographers, friends and family of all creators are urged to call their representatives and ask them to sign on as a co-sponsor to the CASE Act. For more information on what you can do please see http://copyrightdefense.com/action.