Over the past two years, we have urged photographers to support the “Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2019” (the CASE Act). This bill would create a “small claims court” within the U.S. Copyright Office to handle copyright infringement claims from individual creators and small businesses. That would be enormously helpful for photographers and everyone in the creative community. It’s time to make one last push to get this bill over the finish line and time is of the essence.
Why is the CASE Act important
Under the current system, photographers and other creative artists have to pursue copyright infringement cases in federal court, a very expensive and time-consuming process. The CASE Act, which is supported by NANPA and The Copyright Alliance, changes that dynamic and makes filing a claim for copyright infringement within reach of photographers and other small creative businesses. After all, what good is copyright protection if you can’t afford the time or fees to seek redress? You can get more information about the CASE Act here, here and here.
So why the urgency?
The “lame duck” session of Congress, between now and the end of the year, offers the last chance to pass the CASE Act. The bill was introduced in 2019, early in the term of the 116th Congress (2019-2020) and was passed overwhelmingly by the US House of Representatives. It is now awaiting action in the Senate. At the end of this Congress, on December 31st, all pending legislation that has not been passed goes back to square one. The CASE Act would have to be reintroduced in January, in the 117th Congress, where it would have to start all over again. It would be reintroduced, hearings would be held and testimony taken. It would have to pass the House, and then pass the Senate. A lot of time, effort, advocacy, and expertise went into getting the Case Act this far. Let’s not waste it!
What should I do now?
Contact your senator and urge them to support the CASE Act (bill number S. 1273). The Copyright Alliance makes it easy to find and contact your Senator here. A lot can happen in a lame duck session when politicians aren’t worried about a looming election but only on items with significant constituent interest. If we all take action now, we have a good chance of getting this bill enacted into law.
Nature photographers have rights that need to be protected, from copyright to access to public lands. NANPA represents the collective voices of nature photographers on a variety of issues. Learn more about NANPA’s advocacy work here.