Re:Create Recap- February 14, 2019

Report Finds New Creative Economy Is Thriving. The Re:Create Coalition released its second annual report on the economic value of the new creative economy this week, which found that 16.9 million independent, American creators earned a baseline of $6.8 billion from posting their music, videos, art, crafts and other works online in 2017. The updated figures highlighted a 16.6% increase in the number of new creators and a 14.8% increase in total revenues with growth occurring in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. “This analysis serves as a critical reminder that millions of Americans rely on the balanced copyright policies that support internet platforms like Instagram, Etsy and eBay in order to earn billions of dollars from their creativity and innovation,” said Re:Create Executive Director Joshua Lamel.

Revisiting Why The CASE Act Is A Bad Idea. In a letter to the House Judiciary Committee before the September 27 hearing on the CASE Act (H.R 3945), the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) expressed concerns with the bill as currently drafted. The letter states the group’s primary concern is the bill’s “non-judge tribunals and lack of judicial safeguards” that “would enable non-meritorious ‘troll’ litigants…” In support of its concerns, CTA’s letter pointed out that these types of litigation concerns are not “theoretical” stating copyright trolling is “near-endemic.” In another letter to the House Judiciary Committee objecting to provisions of the CASE Act, Engine Advocacy warned about “vexatious litigants targeting unwary users” with the new copyright court. Pointing out that the bill would allow statutory damages awards of up to $15,000 per infringed work, Engine wrote that such amounts could be “ruinous” for the average startup which launches with around $75,000 of outside funding and argued: “We should be working to restore sanity to copyright damages awards rather than further normalizing the practice of allowing irrational and burdensome financial penalties on startups and users.”

Copyright Troll Warning Issued To Consumers. A new post to Public Citizen’s Consumer Law & Policy Blog issued an alert to consumers warning of copyright trolling by law firm Higbee and Associates. The blog showcases the firm’s disturbing practice of “making aggressive and, in many cases, unsupportable demands for the payment of significant sums of money by individuals and nonprofits whose web sites feature copyrighted graphics, and especially photographs, that they saw online but have never tried to license.” The firm’s pattern of threatening to seek as much as $150,000 in statutory damages as well as attorney fees is well known among the community of copyright lawyers, and leads the blog to conclude that “this is a copyright troll with an outsized reputation.”

CCIA Asks USTR To Fight EU Copyright Directive. CCIA filed comments with the United States Trade Representative asking them to fight Europe’s copyright directive, noting the proposed legislation would create barriers to market access. “The tech industry would encourage USTR to note the importance and growing prevalence of these problems around the world in their report and use existing agreements to fight these trade violations,” said CCIA President Ed Black.

Fight Against EU Copyright Directive Isn’t Over Yet. Talks on the EU’s controversial, pending copyright directive resumed this week, Reuters reported. Disagreement among member countries nearly derailed negotiations last month before France and Germany reached a compromise over the proposal language. Critics said the new compromise makes the already-threatening Article 11 and Article 13 even worse. MEP Julia Reda criticized the French-German deal as “actually more extreme than previous versions…putting unreasonable burdens even on the newest companies.” Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee is expected to vote on the compromise text on February 18. If approved, it must then survive a vote by the European Council of Member States. Following that, it will face a vote before the entire Parliament, possibly in late March.

Musicians File Class Action Suit To Reclaim Rights To Recordings. A number of artists filed lawsuits in New York federal court this month claiming UMG Recordings and Sony Music have “routinely and systematically refused to honor” termination rights. According to a report from The Hollywood Reporter, the plaintiffs include Joe Ely, who has recorded 18 solo albums and also was a performer on works by The Clash and Rosie Flores, John Lyon (known as Southside Johnny) and Paul Collins of The Beat. The lawsuit cited that the labels have refused to acknowledge artists’ rights to take control of sound recordings or enter into other agreements and states: “In many instances, UMG has continued to exploit the recordings after the effective date, thereby engaging in willful copyright infringement of the United States copyright in those recordings.”

Tomorrow Is International Fanworks Day. Friday, February 15 is the 5th annual International Fanworks Day and the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) is ready to help you take part – no matter where you are. Check out their blog post for a roundup of events including an online fan chat hosted by OTW and the release of essays from their “What Fanworks Mean to Me” essay contest. Fans can also participate by following the #IFD2019 tag.