Re:Create Recap – October 19, 2017

Advocates Urge Congress To Reject CASE Act. This week a variety of library, technology, and public interest groups 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. Titled the “CASE Act,” the bill would create a Copyright Claims Board. However, 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 notes: “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.”

Using Cosplay To Overcome Mental & Physical Disabilities. At this year’s New York Comic Con, the panel “Cosplay and Disabilities” highlighted the significant number of attendees and cosplayers with disabilities. Zainab Hasnain with The Verge described the “inclusive” event as one where “thousands of people came to express their fandom for whatever character or property they identify with…” One panelist, who has ADHD and autism, explained how cosplay’s inclusive community fostered his socialization and focusing skills. “It lets you be someone different for a day,” said another cosplayer in a wheelchair.

Re:Create Coalition, Creative Commons & PIJIP To Host NAFTA Copyright Event. The American University Washington College of Law’s Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP), Creative Commons, and the Re:Create Coalition will host “NAFTA and the Digital Environment,” an event on October 30 featuring Professor Michael Geist from the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law. As NAFTA renegotiations continue, Geist will explore why balanced copyright provisions should be included in the agreement. Those interested in attending can register here.

Members Of Congress Tell Court: You Got It Wrong. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren and Congressman Darrell Issa, both of California, filed an amicus brief in defense of the nonprofit Public.Resource.Org, which digitizes legal codes and standards in order to increase accessibility for everyday Americans. However, some organizations sued the nonprofit, claiming copyright for the legal codes. A lower court agreed, but the case is currently appealing. Lofgren and Issa argued Public Resource “helps the public by providing access to laws that might otherwise be functionally inaccessible”. Additionally, they note that copyrighted legal codes may violate due process: “There can be no due process when people cannot remain informed of the laws by which they are bound. And they cannot remain informed when the law itself is not sufficiently communicated to the people it governs.”

Copyright Law Is Not An Avenue For Censoring Free Speech.
Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Kit Walsh wrote a blog post about an attempt by a business owner to remove a negative review from the website Ripoff Report, in yet another example of copyright law being misused to censor free speech. The business owner claimed copyright ownership of the author’s negative review, and then filed a copyright infringement claim against the website for hosting the review he now claimed was his own. Recently, the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled that Ripoff Report is not liable and that the author of the original post gave Ripoff Report “irrevocable permission” to host it on their website. Even if the copyright were to change ownership, it still would not be an infringement.