"The CASE Act: The Road to Copyright Trolling is Paved with Good Intentions"

Stan Adams has published "The CASE Act: The Road to Copyright Trolling is Paved with Good Intentions " in the Center for Democracy & Technology Blog.

Here's an excerpt:

The bill would establish a Copyright Claims Board (CCB) in the Copyright Office. This would not be a court and would be entirely separated from the court system. The only option to appeal any of the CCB's determinations, based on the CCB's legal interpretation, would be to ask the Register of Copyrights to review the decision. It would be theoretically possible to ask a federal court to review the determination, but only on the grounds that the CCB's determination was "issued as a result of fraud, corruption, misrepresentation, or other misconduct" or if the CCB exceeded its authority. So if you disagree with the CCB's legal interpretation, or even its competence to make a decision, you are out of luck. This raises red flags about potential due process and separation of powers problems under the Constitution.

The "small claims" part of the bill is also troubling, in that the CCB can award damages up to $30,000 per proceeding. This amount is only considered small in the context of copyright statutory damages, which range between $750-30,000 per work infringed, unless the infringement was willful, in which case, damages can be $150,000 per work. The $30K cap is a 2x-10x multiple of the maximum awards for small claims courts in 49 of 50 states. . . .

Even though the Supreme Court recently ruled that the registration process must be completed (either the Copyright Office granted or denied the application for registration) before filing infringement claims, registration is not required to bring an action under the CASE Act. This leaves everyone (other than the original author/photographer) with no guaranteed way to determine who holds the rights to unregistered works. Even if you identified someone as a potential rightsholder, it could be difficult or impossible to verify their claim of ownership without the official recognition by the Copyright Office. So even if you are acting in good faith and attempt to obtain permission before using a work, you may not be able to do so and there is no guarantee that you will have obtained permission from the correct party, leaving you exposed to claims via the CASE Act.

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Author: Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

Charles W. Bailey, Jr.