Atlanta, GA — After more than a decade of negotiations, the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act was finally signed into law last night by President Donald Trump. This victory for creators and artists marks the end of a 14-year push to create a small claims process that makes it easier for photographers, designers, songwriters, and other creatives to protect their work against copyright infringement. The Act was part of a massive omnibus bill that includes more than $900 billion in coronavirus relief and stimulus spending, in addition to another $1.4 trillion to run the government through next September.
The nonprofit association Professional Photographers of America has been working with Congress for over ten years to pass this important piece of legislation. During that time, PPA members wrote thousands of letters and made phone calls to their representatives asking for support. “It is exciting to see what our organization and its members can do when we sets our mind to something,” said Gregory Daniel, PPA President.
The nonprofit’s CEO David Trust echoed Daniel’s excitement. “This changes everything for small creators. The CASE Act is now law. It is a reality that is still sinking in for a lot of us,” he said. “There will now be a small claims tribunal for small creators, and they will have the same protections afforded to every other American business. The playing field has finally been leveled.”
Before the signing of the CASE Act, the only option for a photographer or other creative whose work had been misused was to file a claim in Federal Court. Simply put, this is not a viable option for many independent artists. Now, as Trust noted, the CASE Act will create a Small Claims Tribunal within the U.S. Copyright Office that will handle infringement cases and make it easier for creators to take action against misuse of their work.
“I applaud my colleagues for passing this legislation so that independent artists can rely on copyright laws to protect their work,” said Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC). “The current system makes it difficult for them to recover damages in a cost-effective manner, and this bipartisan bill will provide a more efficient way for copyright owners to protect their intellectual property and ensure that content creators can be properly paid.”
Intellectual property represents $6.6 trillion—over one third—of the total GDP of the United States. This number includes the work of photographers, graphic artists, authors, illustrators, songwriters, and countless other professions. The signing of the CASE Act into law is a monumental step towards safeguarding these creative industries from future copyright infringement.
“This legislation establishes a venue where small creators can actually enforce their intellectual property rights and finally be appropriately paid for their work,” Senator Mazie K. Horono (D-HI) said. Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) added, “This is a key way to ensure Americans’ creative spirit is preserved and protected.”
For more information about how Professional Photographers of America advocates for its members and all creative professionals, click here.