Re:Create Recap – May 9, 2019


Public Knowledge: CASE Act Isn’t The Right Solution For Artists. Public Knowledge raised concerns with the re-introduction of the CASE Act to start a copyright small claims board at the U.S. Copyright Office. Their opposition centers on language in the bill that “further entrenches an already-toxic culture of secrecy within major entertainment industries…and creates a body that can grant un-appealable, enormous judgments that stretch the definitions of ‘small claims.’” Public Knowledge called for collaboration amongst stakeholders to better help small artists enforce their copyrights online. In a previous blog post, Meredith Rose concluded that the bill would make the Copyright Office the default venue for infringement claims and would “establish an opaque, unaccountable legislation mill that will likely get bogged down by copyright trolls and questionable claimants looking for a payout.”

Advocates’ Concerns With CASE Act Remain Despite Re-Introduction. A variety of library, technology, and public interest groups previously sent a letter to Representatives Hakeem Jeffries and Tom Marino, expressing concerns over proposed legislation to establish a small-claims system within the Copyright Office and create a Copyright Claims Board. In addition, groups like the American Library Association, Public Knowledge and R Street Institute argued the bill would significantly expand the Copyright Office’s responsibilities in an inefficient and fiscally imprudent manner without actually remediating the problem of low-cost infringement claims that individual creators are faced with. As to whether individuals would use this avenue as an alternative to standard litigation, the letter noted: “Defendants rarely would consent to the jurisdiction of the small-claims tribunal because it would not be in their interest to do so; they likely would not waive the traditional benefits and protections of federal court litigation.”

CTA: CASE Act Enables “Troll” Litigants. In a letter to the House Judiciary Committee before a hearing on the CASE Act in the last Congress, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) expressed concerns with the bill. The group’s primary concern was over the bill’s “non-judge tribunals and lack of judicial safeguards” that “would enable non-meritorious ‘troll’ litigants…” CTA’s letter pointed out that these types of litigation concerns are not “theoretical” stating copyright trolling is “near-endemic.”

Engine: CASE Act Creates Copyright Court Prone To Abuse. In another letter to the House Judiciary Committee objecting to provisions of the CASE Act, startup organization Engine 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: “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.”

Libraries Amplify Concerns About The CASE Act. American Library Association’s Carrie Russell voiced concerns over the CASE Act in a previous blog post. While concerns over infringement cases for individual creators are legitimate, Russell argued that this would not be an effective solution as “defendants would be unlikely to participate especially without an independent judicial review that is guaranteed in the federal court.”