The Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act of 2019

Background

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 federal 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.

Legislation to Allow Individual Creators and Small Creative Businesses to Protect Their Work

The Copyright Alternative in Small Claims Enforcement (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 federal litigation, helping independent and small business creators protect and enforce their copyrights.

Highlights of the CASE Act include:

  • It creates a 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.
  • The bill 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.
  • This small claims process does not require the parties to appear in-person and allows claimants and respondents to proceed without an attorney.
  • The legislation discourages frivolous claims and punishes bad actors by imposing fees and, in some cases, barring repeat offenders from continuing to use the tribunal.
  • The CASE Act’s process is easier, less expensive, and more streamlined than any federal court procedure.

The “Win”

The Case Act was signed into law on December 2020 as a part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act.