US Senate Judiciary Committee approves small-claims copyright bill (CASE Act) and reports its to legislature without amendment

US Senate Judiciary Committee
Hearing Room
This (newly minted) GuestKat has been keeping an eye on a possible amendment to the US Copyright Act proposed by the Copyright Office in a 2013 report. Recently, this small-claims amendment proposal received a big boost from the Senate Judiciary Committee; on July 18, Senate Judiciary reported the bill without amendment to both the Senate and House of Representatives for full consideration. Although the bill must still receive a majority of votes in both chambers, last week’s measure provides hope to “hundreds of thousands of U.S. photographers, illustrators, graphic artists, songwriters, and authors, as well as a new generation of creators including bloggers and YouTubers.”

The Copyright Claims Board

Rather than bringing claims in Federal District Court, the CASE Act provides for a Copyright Claims Board to render decisions in small-claims copyright cases; the Board would consist of three officers appointed by the Librarian of Congress. These officers would have the authority to render decisions in copyright claims and award monetary relief. However, they may only hear claims of infringement, misrepresentation, declarations of non-infringement, and counterclaims. Claims are reviewed by Copyright Office attorneys assigned to the Copyright Claims Board for approval before being served upon defendants.


Participation in Copyright Claims Board proceedings will be voluntary, as defendants may opt-out. If defendants fail to opt-out within 60 days, however, the Copyright Claims Board proceeding will commence. Plaintiffs must register their works with the Copyright Office before initiating a Copyright Claims Board proceeding.

Remedies are capped at $30,000 before costs and attorneys’ fees; the Board may adjust this figure after the statute is enacted. Statutory damages are available at a $15,000 per work maximum, but the Board will not consider willful infringement in determining damages.

Copyright Claims Board proceedings are subject to limited review. District court review may be available in the following cases:
“(A) If the determination was issued as a result of fraud, corruption, misrepresentation, or other misconduct.
(B) If the Copyright Claims Board exceeded its authority or failed to render a final determination concerning the subject matter at issue [or]
(C) In the case of a default determination or determination based on a failure to prosecute, if it is established that the default or failure was due to excusable neglect.”

Parties may also seek review of the Copyright Claims Board decision from the Register of Copyrights; this review is limited to an abuse of discretion standard, however.

F5 Kat

In the intention of the proponents, the CASE Act will favour access to copyright enforcement across a variety of artists and creators to whom the costs and time of federal litigation may be prohibitive.

Although the opt-out option may limit the effectiveness of the Copyright Claims Board, it also reduces risks for possible unwitting infringers; the CASE Act may prove an effective means of addressing inequities in US copyright enforcement without disrupting US copyright law too severely. This Kat will keep his paw on F5 as we wait for the US Senate and House of Representatives to consider the bill.
US Senate Judiciary Committee approves small-claims copyright bill (CASE Act) and reports its to legislature without amendment US Senate Judiciary Committee approves small-claims copyright bill (CASE Act) and reports its to legislature without amendment Reviewed by Thomas Key on Tuesday, August 06, 2019 Rating: 5

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