The Copyright Alternative in Small Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act sailed through the House of Representatives last week after a 410-6 vote, a move industry organizations and lobbying firms are calling a major win.

“The Recording Academy applauds the House for passing the CASE Act today, a…victory for music creators,” said Daryl P. Friedman, the Recording Academy’s Chief Industry, Government, & Member Relations Officer.

As its title suggests, the bill would create a small claims tribunal, the Copyright Claims Board, before which musicians, artists, and other content creators would be able to bring infringement claims totaling less than $30,000. Under current copyright law, infringement claims must be brought in federal court, where litigation can be prohibitively onerous and expensive.

Artists “currently have rights but no means to enforce them because federal court is too expensive and complex to navigate,” explains Keith Kupferschmid, CEO of the Copyright Alliance, the Washington-based advocacy organization whose members include the Motion Picture Association of America, The National Association of Broadcasters, and the Recording Industry Association of America.

Critics have voiced fears that the bill would provide copyright trolls with an easy means to bring a wave of opportunistic claims and point to copyright profiteering in the wake of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act as evidence that trolls will similarly benefit from the CASE Act.

Additionally, organizations such as the ACLU have voiced concerns over the bill not creating effective checks on the power of the Copyright Claims Board. Decisions made by the panel would not be subject to broad judicial review, but rather could face such review under limited circumstances enumerated in the bill, such as when decisions were based on “fraud, corruption, misrepresentation, or other misconduct.”

The President has already signaled his support for broad copyright reform last year by signing into law the Music Modernization Act. It is expected that the Senate will also act quickly in confirming the bill. If the Senate acts as decisively as the House, a veto-proof vote passage of the CASE Act could make the creation of the Copyright Claims Board a near inevitability.

Matt Shields is an Entertainment Highlight Contributor for the Harvard Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law and current second year student at Harvard Law School (Class of 2021).

Image: File:US Congress 02.jpg, Bjoertvedt, CC BY-SA 3.0