This is the moment we have all been waiting for!
Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Representative Tom Marino (R-PA) have introduced HR 3945, a small claims bill entitled Copyright Alternative in Small Claims Act of 2017, or "CASE". This bill will enable photographers to pursue copyright infringement in a more cost effective and timely manner!
Many of you remember December 2016, when Representative Chu (D-CA) and Representative Smith (R-TX) introduced the Fairness for America's Small Creators Act, or FASCA. Instead of proceeding with that bill, Representatives Chu and Smith have both agreed to sign on as co-sponsors to CASE.
Both understand the importance and need for a Copyright Small Claims process and thought it was best to sign on, and push one bill. Additionally, Vice Chair Doug Collins (R-GA) has also agreed to co-sponsor CASE, highlighting how important it is to for creative artists to have a remedy to protect their copyright.
The CASE Act of 2017 features the following policy:
The claim must be brought within 3 years of the infringement.There will be a small fee associated with filing a claim. This is to be determined.The claim will be heard by a tribunal that consists of two copyright attorneys and one copyright arbitrator.Before filing a claim, the copyright owner must provide the tribunal with a completed registration application filed with the Copyright Office or a certificate of registration.Bring a copyright infringement claim valued at up to $30,000: If the work was registered prior to infringement the max amount of statutory damages recoverable is $15,000.If the work was not registered prior to infringement the max amount of statutory damages recoverable is $7,500.The photographer will not need an attorney, since, similar to other small claims processes, this is a self-represent system, allowing you to bring a claim without a large financial investment.You can hire an attorney but you will pay for your own attorney fees.No need to travel for hearings or proceedings. Everything will be done online through video communication channels such as Skype.Partaking in the Copyright Small Claims process is voluntary.If the infringer decides to opt-out, you still have the option to bring a claim in Federal Court.A final decision will be not handed down by the tribunal until a final registration certificate has been issued by the Copyright Office.The decision will be held until the registration certificate has been issued.
The introduction of this bill is huge! CASE is the culmination of decades of hard work by PPA, lawmakers, the previous Register of copyright, and the entire visual artist community, to create a process that handles copyright infringement in a new way. This bill handles copyright in a manner that acknowledges the social media era is a different world in terms of sharing other people's work. The CASE bill and the small claims process that it creates will make it so much easier to protect your work and recover damages if your work is infringed upon.
It is time for all of us to support CASE and get our representatives to sign on as co-sponsors. The more co-sponsors the bill has, the better chances it has of making it to the floor for an actual vote. We've done this before with FASCA, which passed the House with overwhelming, bi-partisan support (378-48)! We can do this again!