While federal courts have jurisdiction over all copyright claims, most individuals and small businesses cannot afford the legal fees needed to defend their rights in court. The high cost of litigation causes many copyright infringements to go unchallenged, meaning music creators often have no practical option for protecting their work. The CASE Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Doug Collins (R-GA) in the House and Sens. John Kennedy (R-LA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Dick Durbin D-IL) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) in the Senate, would create a voluntary small-claims tribunal within the U.S. Copyright Office as an alternative to litigation, helping independent and small business creators protect and enforce their copyrights.
Highlights of the CASE Act include:
- small claims process that is 100% voluntary. If a party does not want to participate in the small claims proceeding, it can simply opt out.
- allows for statutory damages of up to $15,000 per work infringed, which is 10% of the damages presently available in federal court. Total damages are capped to no more than $30,000, as compared to federal court, which has no limit.
- Small claims process does not require the parties to appear in-person and would allow claimants and respondents to proceed without an attorney.
- Legislation discourages frivolous claims and punishes bad actors by imposing fees and in some cases barring repeat offenders from continuing to use the tribunal.
- CASE Act’s process is easier, less expensive, and more streamlined than any federal court procedure.
SoundExchange supports the CASE Act, as it would level the playing field and help music creators protect their work without being bogged down in tedious and expensive litigation. On October 22, 2019 the House of Representatives passed the CASE Act by a vote of 410-6. We now encourage the Senate to pass this legislation in a timely fashion to ensure that creators have a practical way to enforce the rights guaranteed to them under the law.