Re:Create Recap- September 28, 2018


Important copyright policy debates took place on Capitol Hill this week as the Senate Rules Committee held a hearing on the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act (S.1010) and the House Judiciary Committee took up the CASE Act (H.R. 3945). Members of the Re:Create Coalition, including several who delivered testimony at the two hearings, along with other voices in the copyright community weighed in with important concerns and objections to the two bills as currently drafted. Below are some highlights.

Opinion: Keep The Copyright Office In The Library Of Congress. Re:Create Executive Director Joshua Lamel penned an op-ed for The Hill making the case for why the Library of Congress “is the rightful home of the U.S. Copyright Office” as the Senate Rules Committee debated a bill that would remove it from the Library and make the Register of Copyrights a presidential appointee. Lamel argued a change would “result in more costs for taxpayers, more disruptions for content creators and delays in the implementation of technological upgrades already in the works.” He also raised concerns that S.1010 is simply an entertainment industry-led effort to exert greater control over the Copyright Office.

EFF: “Don’t Make the Register of Copyrights into a Presidential Pawn.” Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Elliot Harmon wrote a blog post on why the Copyright Office “should not be politicized” by making the Register of Copyrights a presidential appointee, as proposed by H.R. 1695. Since the Copyright Office oversees registering copyrights, managing digital rights management and other ways that people interact with technology, Harmon explained, “The Copyright Office is at its best when it has no political agenda.”

CTA: CASE Act Enables “Troll” Litigants. 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.”

Engine: CASE Act Creates Copyright Court Prone To Abuse. In an additional 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.”

ICYMI: Why The Copyright Office Historically Belongs In The Library Of Congress. Last year Mike Masnick explained in The Verge the hundred-year history behind why the Copyright Office is located within the Library of Congress. “This seemingly small change could have a big impact on a variety of different issues concerning how the internet functions,” he wrote, explaining how increased influence over control of the Copyright Office would help entertainment industries’ lobbyists at the expense of the internet and technology.