Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
How The CASE Act Empowers Creators & Prevents Copyright Trolling
The blockbuster Flame v. Katy Perry copyright lawsuit over "Dark Horse" has made big-time news recently in the music industry, but lost in the splash of the headlines over GRAMMY nominated artists is the fact that litigating copyright violations is simply infeasible for the average artist, songwriter or creator.
A case in the magnitude of “Dark Horse” would incur hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees just to be heard in court, which is only justifiable based on a potentially large settlement. The federal court system is unattainable to a songwriter who is lucky to earn even a few thousand dollars for their song, leaving most in the music industry with rights but no remedies. For music creators and other creative industries this is a problem, and the CASE Act is its solution.
— GRAMMY Advocacy (@GRAMMYAdvocacy) July 20, 2019
The Copyright Alternative Small Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act, would create a copyright small claims court that would help independent music creators protect their work. By capping damages at $30,000 and allowing claimants to initiate action without a lawyer and without needing to appear in court, the bill will go a long way to help independent music creators fight infringement without going broke in the process.
Because many working music creators can't afford the type of legal fees associated with a major copyright lawsuit such as the “Dark Horse” case, many are left unable to defend their work. The CASE Act addresses this challenge faced by average music creators unable to enforce infringement because the modest recovery potential often cannot justify the high expenses of litigation.
Some argue the “Dark Horse” verdict could throw open the flood gates for what is known as "copyright trolling," where the troll attempts to coerce a legitimate copyright holder or user into court by bringing frivolous claims against them. Such fears are unfounded when it comes to the CASE Act, which contains numerous safeguards against trolling, even more than exist under current federal law.
For starters, the CASE Act makes the small claims process inhospitable to trolling, providing respondents with the opportunity to opt out of any case and imposing severe penalties for bad faith or frivolous claims. The Copyright Claim Board has the authority to award attorney fees up to $5,000 to the respondent, ban the claimant from filing for a year and even dismiss all pending cases filed by the claimant. The message of the CASE Act is clear: It doesn’t pay to troll.
Some groups have falsely alleged that the #CASEAct would enable so-called "copyright trolls" to abuse the system and get away with it. The truth? This legislation will do more to prevent trolling than any measures previously taken. #MySkillsPayBills https://t.co/jOXNknf4i2
— Copyright Alliance (@Unite4Copyright) August 7, 2019
With solid protection against nefarious claims and bold empowerment for the working class music creator, the CASE Act implements safe, affordable and accessible court system, not for the Dark Horse-level copyright lawsuits, but for the average creator who deserves the same due process.
Supported by both Democrats and Republicans, the CASE Act was passed without objection by the Senate Judiciary Committee last month and now waits for consideration by the House Judiciary before being voted on by all Members of Congress. You can show your support for the bill by contacting your Members of Congress and urging them to push the CASE Act through for the benefit of music creators and the music industry.