Creativity & Innovation

Tell Congress: Don’t Let a Quasi-Court Bankrupt Internet Users

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Congress is considering passing the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act (CASE Act). Under the CASE Act, people could file copyright infringement claims with an obscure body, under the auspices of an office most people have no experience with. And that board could decide that the subjects of those claims owe up to $30,000 for activities as common as sharing memes, images, and videos online. Tell Congress to vote “no” on the CASE Act.

The CASE Act has been voted out of committee in the House and the Senate, meaning that the next step is full votes by both chambers. We need to stop it now.The CASE Act’s advocates continually describe it as “voluntary” because you can “opt out.” But the reality is that regular people are likely to ignore a notice from an obscure board telling them to respond or be subject to its decisions. The ones opting out are going to be the ones that people making claims truly want in the system: companies, organizations, and people who infringe on a large and repeated scale. And the CASE Act compounds this injustice by making it difficult to appeal to a real judge in a real court.During a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Doug Collins of Georgia said that $30,000—the maximum amount that the CASE Act would enable this board to award—is a “truly small” claim. Almost 40% of Americans couldn’t come up with $400 in an emergency, let alone $30,000. Damage awards granted under the CASE Act could ruin people’s lives.Copyright law does need changing. But a confusing system that empowers an obscure governmental body to levy large penalties against people who don’t show up is not the solution. This isn’t a way for small creators to recoup small claims from serial infringers. This is a system where the big players get to go free and regular people could end up owing life-changing sums of money. Tell Congress to vote “no” on the CASE Act.

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