Cross-posted from copyrightalliance.org[by Keith Kupferschmid]
An updated version of the CASE Act, H.R. 3945 — a bill that was introduced by Rep. Jeffries last year and revised last month — is expected to be considered soon by the House Judiciary Committee. The bill is a priority for individual creators and small businesses who are often victimized by infringement but can’t afford to enforce their rights in federal court because federal litigation is too expensive and their claims are usually too small to justify the cost. And since the Copyright Act grants the federal courts exclusive jurisdiction of copyright infringement claims, these creators are left with no real option other than to continue to suffer the harms of infringement.
The CASE Act provides another option. It would help address this problem by creating a voluntary small claims system within the U.S. Copyright Office that could serve as an alternative to federal court litigation. It creates a streamlined process that would alleviate the need to hire an attorney (unless the party wants one) and would allow law students supervised by a licensed attorney (for instance, students in a law school clinic) to represent a party. The bill allows for recovery of a maximum of $15,000 in statutory damages per claim—one-tenth of what could potentially be recovered in federal court. Most significantly, participation is completely voluntary. If someone accused of infringement (called the respondent in the bill) does not want to participate in the process, they can simply opt out and it’s as if a claim was never brought against them.