Earlier this month, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) introduced the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2016” or “CASE Act”, which would create a small claims court facilitated by the Copyright Office for federal copyright-related claims as a voluntary alternative to the federal court system.
Kevin Erickson, National Organizing Director for Future of Music Coalition made the following statement: read more
When legal battles about copyright infringement make the news, they tend to concern big stars. big hits, and big dollar amounts, from Robin Thicke vs. Marvin Gaye’s estate, to Led Zeppelin’s successful defense of their authorship of”Stairway to Heaven.”
Those charges rise quickly when a case takes years to wind through the courts. When photographer Daniel Morel won a $1.2 judgment after a 5-year legal battle against AFP and Getty Images, his law firm had racked up some $2.5 million in legal costs. However, even though the jury had found AFP and Getty had willfully violated his copyright, the court refused to grant him attorneys fees. This left the law firm that worked with Morel with little hope of collecting on the more than 3,800 hours of work they had put into the case.
This is bad news for both plaintiffs, who often can’t afford to file a lawsuit at all, as well as defendants, who are regularly targeted for hefty damages to justify the expenses. For many musicians and composers, this all means that legal recourse, even in clear cases of copyright infringement, may be out of reach.
What can you do when someone makes unauthorized use of your creative work?
In the past, we’ve seen the RIAA and the major labels go after alleged pirates and large-scale copyright infringers with some frequency—they have the money and the man-power to dedicate to litigation. But if you’re an unsigned solo artist, or a photographer or an author, the cost of taking someone to court, regardless of how flagrant the infraction, can often be prohibitive. read more