Updated: House Passes CASE Act

As expected, the House has  overwhelmingly passed the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement [CASE] Act of 2019 (410 to 6), which would create a small claims court for copyright infringement cases.  

The bill will still need to pass the Senate and be signed into law by the President before it can become the law of the land, but a staffer in the office of bill sponsor Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said that they expect it to pass the Senate and be signed by the President. They said that while the Google-backed Electronic Frontier Foundation and other computer companies oppose the legislation, they have bipartisan momentum on their side on the Hill and likely the support of Jared Kushner, senior advisor to his father-in-law, President Donald Trump, for the presidential sign-off. 

Related: ACLU Makes Case against CASE Act 

The CASE Act, which was introduced in the House last May by Jeffries, would establish the Copyright Claims Board in the U.S. Copyright Office.  

The idea is to give independent creators an easier and cheaper (than federal district court litigation) way to defend their intellectual property.   

Among the groups supporting the bill are the News Media Alliance, SAG-AFTRA, Authors Guild, RIAA, and the Copyright Alliance. Opponents, in addition to the ACLU and EFF, include fair use standard-bearer Public Knowledge, the Consumer Technology Association, whose members make the technology that allows for the distribution of intellectual property, fair use and foul, and the Computer & Communications Industry Association, whose edge provider members are often the targets of copyright infringement claims. 

“This small claims process would expose internet users to high penalties without effective due process," said CCIA COO Matt Schruers of the bill's House passage, "enabling trolls or other abusive litigants to circumvent the existing safeguards provided by the federal judicial system.” 

Bill cosponsors include Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee; Martha Roby (R-Ala.), ranking member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet; Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet; Ben Cline (R-Va.); Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.); Ted Lieu (D-Calif.); and Judy Chu (D-Calif.).  

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.