The Big Deal About Copyright Small Claims

When: September 21, 2016 at 11:30am - 12:45pm EDT - This event has passed


RSVP Required

Space is limited

In Coordination with

The Congressional Caucus on Intellectual Property Promotion and Piracy Prevention

And the Copyright Alliance

Self-publishing services, blogs, and other digital platforms have given individual creators countless new ways to display and distribute their works across the globe.  At the same time, when these creative works are used without permission, online and offline, the individual authors, musicians and visual artists that own these works face major hurdles to enforcing their rights in federal court—where the cost to hire an attorney and bring a claim often exceeds the damages the artist seeks.  In 2013, pursuant to a request from Congress, the U.S. Copyright Office issued a report on Copyright Small Claims, and recommended the creation of a voluntary alternative to federal court for copyright owners pursuing claims capped at $30,000.  The House Judiciary Committee then examined this issue in its July 2014 hearing, Copyright RemediesCurrently, members of the House Judiciary Committee are working on legislation to make this voluntary small claims tribunal a reality to ensure meaningful protection of all U.S. creators—not just those that can afford federal litigation.

Please join the Copyright Society, in coordination with the Congressional Caucus on Intellectual Property Promotion and Piracy Prevention (“IP Caucus”) and the Copyright Alliance, for a brown bag lunch discussion with a diverse panel of speakers including, artists, publishers, professors, and legal experts.  The panel will directly address the real impact that a small claims tribunal could have on the livelihoods of individual creators, the need for adequate safeguards to ensure merit in the claims presented to the tribunal, and the role for lawyers and law students in proposed small claims legislation.

A brown bag lunch will be provided.


FREE, but please RSVP!

opening remarks

Rep. Judy ChuJudy Chu was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in July 2009 and became the first Chinese American woman elected to Congress in history. She represents the 27th Congressional District, which includes Pasadena and the west San Gabriel Valley of southern California. Rep. Chu currently serves on the House Judiciary Committee, where she is a member of the Subcommittees on Intellectual Property and the Internet as well as Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations.  She also serves on the House Small Business Committee, which has oversight of the Small Business Administration.  Rep. Chu is the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax and Capital Access. Chu founded and co-chairs the Congressional Creative Rights Caucus, which advocates for the copyright protections of those in the creative industries, such as music, film and visual arts.   She also serves in leadership of the House Democratic Caucus as a Member of the Steering and Policy Committee.

Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Jeffries represents the diverse Eighth Congressional District of New York, an area that encompasses large parts of Brooklyn and a section of Queens. Serving his second term in the United States Congress, Rep. Jeffries is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and House Education and the Workforce Committee. He is also Whip of the Congressional Black Caucus. Presently, Rep. Jeffries co-chairs the bipartisan Intellectual Property Caucus. Congressman Jeffries obtained his bachelor’s degree in political science from the State University of New York at Binghamton, where he graduated with honors for outstanding academic achievement. He then received his master’s degree in public policy from Georgetown University. Thereafter, Rep. Jeffries attended New York University School of Law, where he graduated magna cum laude and served on the Law Review. Following the completion of law school, Congressman Jeffries clerked for the Honorable Harold Baer Jr. of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. He practiced law for several years at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, an internationally renowned law firm, and then served as counsel in the litigation department of two Fortune 100 companies, Viacom Inc. and CBS. He also worked as of counsel at Godosky & Gentile, a well-regarded litigation firm in New York City.


Sandra AistarsSandra Aistars is a Clinical Professor at George Mason University School of Law, leading the law school’s Arts & Entertainment Advocacy Program. She also serves as a Senior Scholar and Director of Copyright Research and Policy at the law school’s Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property (CPIP). Aistars has nearly twenty years of advocacy experience on behalf of copyright and other intellectual property owners. Throughout her career she has served in positions that required mastery of intellectual property issues, federal policy process and development, and the ability to understand and manage the implications of intellectual property policies across a portfolio of businesses. In addition, Aistars has a wealth of experience working with policy makers in Washington and internationally. She has served on trade missions and been an industry advisor to the Department of Commerce on intellectual property implications for international trade negotiations; worked on legislative and regulatory matters worldwide; frequently testified before Congress and federal agencies regarding intellectual property matters; chaired cross-industry coalitions and technology standards efforts; and is regularly tapped by government agencies to lecture in U.S. government-sponsored study tours for visiting legislators, judges, prosecutors, and regulators. Immediately prior to joining Mason Law, Aistars was the Chief Executive Officer of the Copyright Alliance – a nonprofit, public interest organization that represents the interests of artists and creators across the creative spectrum. While at Mason, she continues to collaborate with the Copyright Alliance as a member of its Academic Advisory Board. Aistars has also previously served as Vice President and Associate General Counsel at Time Warner Inc. She began her legal career in private practice at Weil, Gotshal and Manges LLP.

Yvonne BennettYvonne Bennett serves as Vice President, Business & Legal Affairs, National Geographic Partners, LLC. (“NGP”) since December 2015. In this role, Bennett oversees the negotiation and drafting of both domestic and global program acquisition agreements for the National Geographic channels, and provides strategic advice, and comprehensive legal counsel to the National Geographic kids television programming division, and the kids and adult audience book publishing divisions, which annually publish over 100 kids’ books and over 90 adult audience books respectively. Prior to joining NGP, Bennett served as Vice President, Business & Legal Affairs for the television production company, Endemol Shine North America, where she negotiated, drafted and advised the company on all product licensing partnerships, on-air product integrations, marketing strategies, digital campaigns and multi-platform brand extension initiatives.
Prior to her Endemol tenure, Bennett served as Vice President, of Business & Legal Affairs for the Lifetime/A&E Networks, where she provided negotiation and drafting services, and strategic legal counsel, on program acquisition transactions, and marketing and promotion initiatives. Bennett has also served as Vice President Business & Legal Affairs for the Walt Disney Company/Cable Networks Group and the Fox Family Channel. In both roles, she provided comprehensive business and legal affairs services for program acquisition and co-production transactions. Prior to her Fox Family role, Bennett served as Vice President Business Affairs and General Counsel for Encore Media Corporation – Starz!/Encore, where she oversaw all legal and business affairs matters for the company’s 10 cable networks. Bennett also worked as a regulatory attorney at the law firm of Cole, Raywid & Braverman. Bennett received her J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center, a Masters in Mass Communication from Howard University and a Bachelor of Arts in English from West Virginia Wesleyan College. A diverse panel of creators and legal experts will directly address the real impact that a small claims tribunal could have on the livelihoods of individual creators, the need for adequate safeguards to ensure merit in the claims presented to the tribunal, and the role for lawyers and law students in proposed small claims legislation.

Rick CarnesRick Carnes, Nashville songwriter, has served as president of the Songwriters Guild of America, Inc., the nation’s largest and longest established organization run solely by and for music creators, for over a decade. During that time, he has helped to oversee SGA’s unique and highly successful Music Creator Administration Program, as well as all of SGA’s extensive advocacy initiatives in support of the rights of songwriters and their heirs. Rick also serves as proprietor of his own music publishing company, Clear Channel Music and as Co-Chair of Music Creators North America, an alliance comprised of songwriter and composer organizations in Canada and the US, representing thousands of music creators.  He is likewise a delegate to the CIAM international music creator coalition in Paris, and a board member of the Fair Trade Music organization, which is leading the global fair trade movement for music creators. A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Carnes and his wife, Janis, moved to Nashville in 1978. Soon after, the duo signed their first record deal with RCA Records, later recording for Elektra Asylum, Warner Bros. and MCA. Rick, however, found his true calling as a songwriter. Over the past three decades, Carnes has written and co-written classic hits such as Reba McEntire’s “I Can’t Even Get The Blues No More” and Garth Brooks’ “Long Neck Bottle,” and his songs have been recorded by scores of other legendary artists including Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, Dean Martin, Alabama and Pam Tillis. In all, Rick’s songs have surpassed the forty million unit sales mark. In addition to his continuing career as a songwriter and his duties as president of SGA, Rick has also recently served as a professor of music business and musical composition at Middle Tennessee State University, which boasts the nation’s largest college-level music business program.

Thomas R. KennedyThomas R.  Kennedy is Executive Director of American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), a U.S. trade association representing independent photographers working across commercial and editorial genres. He is an internationally known visual journalist with extensive print, broadcast, and online journalism experience, including positions Managing Editor for Multimedia at The Washington Post, and Director of Photography at the National Geographic Society. He has created, directed, and edited visual journalism projects that have earned Pulitzer Prizes, as well as EMMY, Peabody, and Edward R. Murrow awards. Previously, he has also worked as an independent consultant coaching and mentoring individual photographers, as well as providing strategic analysis on visual storytelling for media companies and nonprofit organizations.  In addition, he has taught regularly at universities and multimedia conferences, and advises about recruiting, coaching, and managing creative talent for optimal performance. He is a graduate of the University of Florida, with a B.S. degree in journalism, and he serves on the Board of Directors for the Eddie Adams Photo Workshop and on the Board of Advisors for the School of Visual Communications at Ohio University.


Nancy E. WolffNancy E. Wolff, partner at Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard, provides a unique legal service for multimedia companies of all sizes. Experienced in copyright, trademark and digital media law, Nancy offers full legal support to a wide range of traditional and digital media clients. Services include preparing all the necessary contracts and licensing agreements involved in the distribution or licensing of products and services in a multi-platform environment; offering branding, trademark and copyright protection strategy; reviewing content for potential legal issues; developing, negotiating and reviewing contracts or counseling clients on legal issues or business questions as they occur. Her achievements have earned her recognition as a Super Lawyer in Intellectual Property. Operating almost as an in-house lawyer, Nancy advises her clients on the registration and protection of intellectual property in the area of copyright and trademark, advises when releases are necessary under various publicity laws, and how to promote the client’s products and services without running afoul of the many advertising and privacy rules that are developing. She advises on creative ways to structure deals, make acquisitions or sell properties; as well as offering support to resolve any kind of legal dispute. While she explores the potential to resolve disputes amicably, with the aim to reach a fair settlement as efficiently as possible, if the enforcement or protection of her clients’ rights requires legal intervention, she is a strong and dedicated advocate for her client. She is currently the President of the Copyright Society of the USA.


If you have any questions, please contact:

Rachel Fertig
Sofia Castillo