The Authors Guild is backing a piece of legislation I can actually support:
Today Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, introduced a bill, entitled the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act of 2016, H.R. 5757, that would establish an accessible and efficient forum to resolve “small” copyright claims. The legislation, co-sponsored by Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA), would allow individual authors to protect their intellectual property rights without having to file expensive and complicated federal lawsuits.
The Authors Guild has been actively advocating for a small copyright claims court since 2006, when we testified before the House Judiciary Committee about the need for such a venue, citing an Authors Guild survey that revealed most authors do not have effective access to the courts for many of their copyright infringement claims. As the threats to authors’ copyright incentives have increased since that time—due to the growth of digital book piracy and courts’ reluctance to enforce digital rights—so have our efforts to establish a small claims court. The Guild has been working with Congressman Jeffries’ office on this proposal for several months. It deals with many of the difficult issues involved with creating an effective small copyright claims tribunal.
I don’t agree with TAG on their reasons for liking this proposed legislation, but I would still support the law because there’s a clear benefit for creators.
I as a creator gain nothing from much of copyright law because I lack the means to fight for my rights in court. IP lawsuits cost more than I can afford to pay, and I’m not the only creator in that position.
This law would help to fix that problem.
“On an individual level, the inability to enforce one’s rights undermines the economic incentive to continue investing in the creation of new works,” said The Authors Guild Executive Director Mary Rasenberger. “On a collective level, the inability to enforce rights corrodes respect for the rule of law and deprives society of the benefit of new and expressive works of authorship.”
On the other hand, it would also enable baseless harassment lawsuits and it wouldn’t be of much use if the infringing party is in another jurisdiction.
But the net positives still outweigh the negatives.
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