NEW YORK, NY, October 4, 2017 — Today Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), along with Reps. Tom Marino (R-PA), Doug Collins (R-GA), Lamar Smith (R-TX), Judy Chu (D-CA), and Ted Lieu (D-CA), introduced to Congress a bill that would establish a small copyright claims tribunal in the U.S. Copyright Office.
The legislation would give authors a much-needed tool to combat copyright infringement without having to go to federal court—an extremely expensive proposition for even the most straightforward copyright cases, and one that few authors can afford. If the bill is passed, individual creators and other small copyright owners will have the ability to enforce their rights without hiring a lawyer or travelling to federal court. This should effectively place copyright remedies for the first time within the grasp of an entire class of creators who otherwise could not afford to avail themselves of the legal system.
The Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2017, known as the CASE Act, revises a similar bill (with the same name) that was introduced last year in the previous Congress, but was not brought to the floor before the Congressional session expired.
“The Authors Guild strongly supports this bill. We thank and congratulate Representatives Jeffries, Marino, Collins, Smith, Chu, and Lieu for introducing this important legislation,” said Authors Guild executive director Mary Rasenberger. “Their persistence on behalf of this nation’s creators is testament both to the importance of the creative community and to their recognition of that importance,” she continued. “We would also like to thank the Representatives and their staffs for hearing the concerns of the nation’s authors, photographers, songwriters, and other creators and taking action.”
The proposed bill, like the original, is based largely on draft legislation developed by the Copyright Office in its 2013 Report on Copyright Small Claims, a document prepared after holding public hearings and soliciting written comments from individual authors, industry groups (including the Authors Guild), publishers, technology companies, scholars, and other stakeholders.
Under the bill, participation in the tribunal would be on a voluntary basis and would not interfere with either party’s right to a jury trial. Changes made to last year’s bill include the addition of a provision requiring the Copyright Office to expedite certificates of registration—a prerequisite to entry—for parties with a matter before the small claims court, and the addition of a provision allowing a copyright holder to request a subpoena that would compel an Internet service provider to disclose the identity of a user of its service who has been accused of infringement. The latter provision would be a boon to authors, among others, in their endless fight against Internet piracy.
“In additional to providing a remedy for small copyright claims,” Rasenberger said, “Congress, by passing the CASE Act, would demonstrate its recognition that individual creators and small copyright owners are the backbone of the creative economy. We look forward to doing all we can to see this bill signed into law.”