How the CASE Act Could Change How We Deal with Copyright Claims

September 20, 2016
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What You Need to Know About the CASE Act

A small claims court for resolving smaller copyright infringement claims could finally come to fruition thanks to a proposed bill for the CASE act. But what is the CASE act and how could it affect you?CASE actAfter being informally debated over the past several years, a bill was introduced in Congress last month that would establish a new Copyright Claims Board known as the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act, or CASE act for short.

Why the CASE act was introduced

Filing a copyright infringement lawsuit in federal court can be a costly and time-consuming endeavor, particularly for small businesses and individual copyright holders.

…filing a copyright infringement lawsuit in federal court can be a costly and time-consuming endeavor…

As a result, groups like the American Society of Media Photographers and the Professional Photographers of America have called for the creation of a less costly and burdensome legal mechanism to enforce copyright interests.

What is the CASE act?

The Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2016 (CASE Act) would establish a Copyright Claims Board comprised of three officers with significant experience resolving copyright claims. The members of the tribunal would be recommended by the Register of Copyrights and appointed by the Librarian of Congress.

Key Provisions of the CASE act

Below are several other key provisions of the proposal:

  • Voluntary participation: Proceedings could be initiated by a copyright holder claiming infringement or by a user seeking to obtain a legal declaration of non-infringement. The small claims court would also be authorized to hear claims for misrepresentation in connection with a notification of claimed infringement or a counter notification seeking to replace removed or disabled material under Section 512(f) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
  • Limited Damages: Awards of statutory damages would be limited to $15,000 for each work infringed, provided the works were registered with the U.S. Copyright Office prior to infringement or within three months of publication. For works that were not timely registered, the damages would be limited to $7,500 per work. The monetary damages in any one proceeding would be capped at $30,000.
  • Attorneys’ Fees: Except in the case of bad faith conduct, the parties to proceedings before the Copyright Claims Board would bear their own attorneys’ fees and costs.
  • Electronic Proceedings: Claims before the board would not require in-person appearances by parties or others. Instead, they would take place by means of written submissions, hearings and conferences accomplished via Internet-based applications and other telecommunications facilities.

The Potential repercussions of the CASE Act

The upside of the CASE Act is that copyright infringement claims would proceed more quickly and be less costly to litigate. However, at the same time, the small claims court could also encourage more lawsuits, particularly by so-called “copyright trolls.”