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June 28, 2024

The CASE Act

A Legislative Win is also an ABA Government Relations Win!

In August 2019, the ABA adopted policy at its Annual meeting supporting legislation to create a small claims court in which to adjudicate copyright small claims as a lower-cost, less-time-consuming alternative to federal court litigation.

When Congress introduced the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2019 (CASE Act), the ABA worked with its experts in the Intellectual Property Law Section to send advocacy letters to the Hill urging swift passage of it, even highlighting the importance of the Act alongside state bar leaders during ABA Day 2019, as an access to justice issue so creators and small businesses nationwide could better protect their work.

In 2020, the CASE Act was finally enacted, and a year later when governing regulations were published, the ABA Intellectual Property Law Section again helped to inform that effort. 

Ultimately, the Copyright Claims Board (CCB) was created as an alternative forum to federal court to resolve copyright disputes up to $30,000 total (called “small claims”). The CCB is accessible to anyone, with or without an attorney. The process is streamlined, hearings are conducted remotely online, and participation is voluntary.

On June 16, 2022, the CCB heard its first case, with 70 cases received in that first month and 485 cases received by the end of the first year of operation, including cases from 43 states and 24 countries. 

In June 2024, the Register of Copyrights and Director at the U.S. Copyright Office Shira Perlmutter said “As we approach the two-year anniversary of the CCB, we celebrate its success. The CCB was designed to make justice more accessible to more people, and already it has received over 800 claims coming from all around the country. It is clear that it is fulfilling Congress’s goals and serving a broad copyright community.”

The longstanding advocacy by the Intellectual Property Section and the ABA is credited with helping to pass the CASE Act and finally get the CCB process established, almost a decade after the concept of a small claims process for copyright claims was first envisioned.

At the ABA’s August 2023 Annual Meeting, the House of Delegates featured a resolution impact video created by the ABA’s Media Relations Office, in coordination with the Intellectual Property Section titled the ABA on the CASE: Creatives win access to justice, that traced the history of the ABA’s efforts to pass the CASE Act and expand access to justice for creatives. 

On June 11, 2024, the American Business Awards presented the ABA with a prestigious First Place – Gold Stevie Award in the Government Relations category for this video. The Stevie Awards are the world’s premier business awards, and they were created to recognize the outstanding work of business professionals. Julie Brown from the ABA Communications Office accepted the award for the ABA, saying the award is a win for content creators who were stymied by expensive and complex federal court systems that made it impossible for them to go after copyright thieves. Luckily lawyers at the American Bar Association took up the case, doing “what they do everyday – defending liberty, pursuing justice, pursuing access to justice, for everyone.” A complete listing of the 2024 video award winners can be found here

The ABA Governmental Affairs team congratulates ABA Media Relations, House of Delegates, and Intellectual Property Section for the collaborative work done to create the video that made this award possible. We also thank the hundreds of ABA leaders, practitioners, members, state bar members and grassroots advocates who joined our collective advocacy efforts to pass the CASE Act and make access to justice for creatives at the CCB finally a reality.

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