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The CASE Act, a major piece of legislation that would introduce a small claims court for copyright infringement cases, has officially been passed by Senate Judiciary Committee, clearing the way for a full vote on the Senate floor.
This is a major step forward for the copyright legislation, which was introduced by a bi-partisan group of senators from Louisiana, North Carolina, Illinois and Hawaii. As of now, defending your copyrights means taking your case to federal court—a complicated and expensive proposition. If passed, the CASE Act would remedy this by establishing a small claims tribunal within the U.S. Copyright Office, making it much easier and cheaper to defend your copyrights in court.
The unappealable court would be staffed by three full-time “Copyright Claims Officers” appointed by the Librarian of Congress, who would be allowed to assign damages of up to $15,000 per infringed work, and up to $30,000 total.
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The Copyright Alliance issued a statement commending the Senate Judiciary Committee for taking this step, writing:
We thank the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and especially the bill’s original co-sponsors […] for passing the CASE Act out of Committee today and for making it a legislative priority, one that will benefit hundreds of thousands of U.S. photographers, illustrators, graphic artists, songwriters, and authors, as well as a new generation of creators including bloggers and YouTubers.
We look forward to working with the Senate and other stakeholders as the CASE Act moves to the Senate floor and moves forward in the House of Representatives.
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Meredith Rose, Policy Counsel at the public interest non-profit Public Knowledge, told Billboard that the bill as it stands does not involve appropriate oversight.
“[The CASE Act] lacks meaningful opt-in consent for all parties, structural safeguards against abuse, and legal accountability through a right of appeal,” said Rose. “The bill would allow an unappealable tribunal to assign damages of up to $30,000, or nearly half the income of the average American household. A tribunal with that kind of punitive power must be accountable.”
Link to the rest at PetaPixel
PG thinks a Small Claims Copyright Court is a good idea, but should include strong provisions to prevent abuse.
A great many people don’t understand what a copyright protects and, given the existence of crazy people, PG is concerned that legitimate authors might be on the receiving end of “You stole my idea” sorts of lawsuits.
PG thinks the existence of such a law would make it even more important for authors to register their copyrights as soon as their book is finished to establish the nature and timing of their creations.
While the passage out of a Senate committee is an important step in creating such a law, it still has to pass through several other stages in the Senate and House of Representatives and be signed by the President before it becomes a law.
For those who would like more information, Wikipedia has a brief description and links to some opinion pieces, pro and con, concerning the CASE Act.
Below is the original Senate CASE Act. PG was not able to determine with a quick search what changes, if any, were made in the Senate Judiciary Committee prior to the legislation being approved there.
Senate CASE by Michael Zhang on Scribd
2 thoughts on “Major CASE Act Copyright Legislation Passed by Senate Judiciary Committee”
Does this mean that if a major studio basically rips off one of my books by turning it into a movie without my permission, the most I can get in damages would be $30,000, rather than the million or two I might have been able to get if such plagiarism had happened before CASE? If so, this seems like a pretty good thing for Hollywood, but lousy for authors.
As the blog above, this is to help/protect big business, not us little guys/gals. 😉
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