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Thursday, Dec 05th

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You are here: English BoingBoing ibag A new copyright bill would be a disaster for how regular people use the internet

A new copyright bill would be a disaster for how regular people use the internet

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[My EFF colleague Katharine is back with a very important message about a singularly stupid and dangerous legislative proposal that is steamrolling through Congress; even by the standards of stupid and dangerous Congressional copyright rules, this one is an exception -Cory] Every year, for a couple of years now, Congress has debated passing some version of the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act (CASE Act). It’s supposed to be the answer to artists’ prayers: a quicker, cheaper way to deal with infringement than going to court. But the way this bill is written (and re-written, and re-written, and re-written) doesn’t do that. It just makes it easy to bankrupt people for sharing memes. The CASE Act creates a small claims court for copyright claims. Sort of. The maximum amount that can be awarded is $30,000 per proceeding. And the CASE Act allows statutory damages for unregistered works, which is not permitted in courts—so you might actually end up owing more in the “small claims” framework than in a lawsuit. This might be a “small claims” framework in a legal sense, but for the almost 40% of Americans who would have trouble coming up with $400 in an emergency, it won’t feel that way. And it’s not a court, either. What the CASE Act actually creates is a Copyright Claims Board staffed by Copyright Claims Officers in the Copyright Office. That means your case won’t be heard by a real judge (much less a jury), and many of the hard-won protections you get in court—like a growing understanding of the importance of fair use—may not apply. Read the rest

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