On July 18th, the Senate Judiciary Committee marked up and voted out of committee the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2019 (CASE Act). This bill would create within the Copyright Office a Copyright Claims Board which would have the ability to hear claims of copyright infringement and award damages up to $30,000.
This law is supposed to be an easier way for photographers and other artists to gain recompense when they claim their copyrights were infringed. However, it will only make it easier for copyright trolls.
The bill gets around requiring copyright suits to appear in federal courts by allowing anyone sued via this board the ability to opt out of their proceedings. We don’t expect the opt out process will be easy, especially if since they only have 60 days to opt out. DMCA take down notices are difficult to challenge and already easily abused. Once people face monetary damage notifications sent by a government agency, we fully expect many to buckle.
Under the existing system, anyone suing for copyright infringement can expect large legal bills, low judgements and a chance they will fail. Unless the infringer is a corporation, it seldom makes sense to file a suite.
By creating a Copyright Claims Board, likely stacked with lawyers who favor copyright over our right to free speech, the government makes it easier for copyright trolls simply by increasing the likelihood that a plaintiff will win. Copyright trolls will have an incentive to file as many suits as they can in the hope that many will be too poor to opt out and will choose the take the judgement of the Copyright Claims Board. More people will be sued for sharing photographs, music and memes whether they infringed on someone’s copyright or exercised their right to fair use.
Tell Senators Warren and Markey you oppose the CASE Act and don’t want the Copyright Office to run a small claims court that will help copyright trolls. Call them today: