House Bill Proposes Creation of Copyright Small Claims Court

How might a copyright small claims court benefit independent artists?

A House bill was recently introduced which would allow for the creation of a small claims court for copyright enforcement.  The bill, officially named the CASE Act, or Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2017, could allow for more photographers and independent artists to enforce their copyrights in a low cost, efficient manner. Our NYC copyright infringement lawyers at Thomas Lancia PLLC discuss the potential new copyright claims court below.

Drawbacks of the Current Copyright Claims System for Smaller Artists 

Currently, copyright holders whose work has been infringed must file suit in federal court to seek enforcement of their legal rights and damages for infringement.  The entire process in federal court is often costly and lengthy.  Smaller artists and photographers may elect not to pursue an infringement action because of the high costs.  As such, independent artists are left without a remedy for infringement of their works.  

The Proposed Copyright Small Claims System 

Under the CASE Act bill, introduced by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York and Rep. Tom Marino of Pennsylvania, a Copyright Claims Board would be created to simplify the copyright claims process and reduce costs.  The copyright small claims board is the outcome of many years of hard work and effort by a large group of visual artists, including members of congress and several visual arts groups.

With the new copyright small claims court, independent and smaller visual artists will be afforded the same copyright protections as larger scale artists.  After all, the Copyright Act itself makes no distinction as to the merit of a work based on its commercial success.  Under the Copyright Act of 1976, original works of authorship are protected, including literary, artistic, and musical works, as well as computer software and architecture.

Copyright infringement involves the unauthorized use of a work protected by copyright law.  Anyone who believes their copyright has been infringed should contact a copyright infringement lawyer right away.  Your attorney will review the facts surrounding your work and the alleged illegal use.  Even if the small claims copyright board is adopted, a copyright attorney will prove essential for the enforcement of your legal rights.