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Tue Oct 15, 2019, 10:28 AM

EFF Alert: Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act -- Set to Bankrupt Small Websites


A new cottage industry is born:

Small websites, YouTube posters, etc. prepare to get hit with $30K "Small Claims" copyright trolls.

The CASE Act is the “Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act.” It’s a bill that purports to be a simple fix to the complicated problem of the spread of copyrighted content online. In reality, it creates an obscure, labyrinthine system that will be easy for the big players to find a way out of. The new “Copyright Claims Board” in the Copyright Office would be empowered to levy large penalties against anyone accused of copyright infringement. The only way out of this system would be to respond to the Copyright Office—in the specific manner it asks for—within 60 days of getting a notice. Regular Internet users, who largely can’t afford the $30,000 this “small claims” board could force you to pay, will be the ones most likely to get lost in the shuffle.

The CASE Act doesn’t create a true small-claims court, with the hard-won protections for free expression of the judicial system. Instead, claims under the CASE Act would be heard by neither judges or juries, just “claims officers.” And it has a very limited ability for you to appeal, leaving you with whatever penalty the “claims board” decides you owe.

While different versions of the CASE Act have been proposed in previous years, those all failed to pass after hearings. But Congress hasn’t had a single hearing about this bill and hasn’t had a chance to hear about the devastating effects it could have. When it passed out of committee in the House of Representatives, we even heard Representative Doug Collins of Georgia say that the $30,000 cap on damages limited the bill to “truly small claims.” That’s why we’re asking you to take some time today to call and tell your representatives how ruinous that situation could be for regular Internet users.

Congress is back in D.C. today, so urge your senators and representative to stand against the CASE Act.

Thank you,

Katharine Trendacosta
Activism Team | Electronic Frontier Foundation


UPDATE: Follow the link above to get more information about this issue and contacting legislators.

Expect trolls, SLAPP abusers and others to add this new weapon to their arsenal to suppress people's voices.


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Reply EFF Alert: Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act -- Set to Bankrupt Small Websites (Original post)
TheBlackAdder Oct 2019 OP
Ms. Toad Oct 2019 #1

Response to TheBlackAdder (Original post)

Tue Oct 15, 2019, 10:41 AM

1. I haven't read the details of this particular Act -

But as someone who has defended garden-variety infringers (think file sharing), it would be useful to have something short of the expense of full-scale litigation. We routinely recommended that the people we defended settle, because the cost of defending them in court was way beyond the normal family pocketbook.

Typically, it was a kid sharing music files (which racked up an exorbitant amount of statutory claims becasue of the mechanism by which file sharing systems work). Their parents are paying the internet bill, so the big bucks owners tracked the internet subscriber (the parent) and filed suit against them. They could probably beat the claim (with an expensive court battle), but in the process of discovery they would have to point the finger at their child.

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