from the is-it-like-Judge-Judy? dept.
The House of Representatives has just voted in favor of the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act (CASE Act) by 410-6 (with 16 members not voting), moving forward a bill that Congress has had no hearings and no debates on so far this session. That means that there has been no public consideration of the serious harm the bill could do to regular Internet users and their expression online.
The CASE Act creates a new body in the Copyright Office which will receive copyright complaints, notify the person being sued, and then decide if money is owed and how much. This new Copyright Claims Board will be able to fine people up to $30,000 per proceeding. Worse, if you get one of these notices (maybe an email, maybe a letter—the law actually does not specify) and accidentally ignore it, you're on the hook for the money with a very limited ability to appeal. $30,000 could bankrupt or otherwise ruin the lives of many Americans.
The CASE Act also has bad changes to copyright rules, would let sophisticated bad actors get away with trolling and infringement, and might even be unconstitutional. It fails to help the artists it's supposed to serve and will put a lot of people at risk.
The EFF also criticized the bill in a previous article, pointing out its potential for abuse.
The president of the American Bar Association wrote in support of the bill:
While the CASE Act will provide more cost-effective protection for plaintiffs, copyright defendants will also benefit from the proposed legislation. Currently, defendants can be burdened with significant legal costs and drawn out suits, even where their use is a fair use or otherwise lawful. Participation in a small claims proceeding would cap their damages and likely provide a faster resolution of the dispute.
Participation in the program would be entirely voluntary, and parties could proceed with or without attorneys. Proceedings could be held through phone or videoconferences. Lawyers well-versed in copyright and alternative dispute resolution would decide the claims.
Works from 1925 are now open to all! The Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke Law School's blog covers the famous works which rise to the public domain on January 1st, 2021.
On January 1, 2021, copyrighted works from 1925 will enter the US public domain,1 where they will be free for all to use and build upon. These works include books such as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, Ernest Hemingway’s In Our Time, and Franz Kafka’s The Trial (in the original German), silent films featuring Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton, and music ranging from the jazz standard Sweet Georgia Brown to songs by Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, W.C. Handy, and Fats Waller.
"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessley into the past."
F. Scott Fitsgerald, The Great Gatsby
This is not just the famous last line from The Great Gatsby. It also encapsulates what the public domain is all about. A culture is a continuing conversation between present and past. On Public Domain Day, we all have a “green light,” in keeping with the Gatsby theme, to use one more year of that rich cultural past, without permission or fee.
1925 was a good year for music. Duke Ellington and Jelly Roll Morton were some of those active then. Though some consider it the best year so far for great books and many classics were published then, among them is the original German version of the all too relevant The Trial by Franz Kafka.
(2020) Internet Archive Files Answer and Affirmative Defenses to Publisher Copyright Infringement Lawsuit
(2020) Internet Archive Ends “Emergency Library” Early to Appease Publishers
(2020) Project Gutenberg Public Domain Library Blocked in Italy for Copyright Infringement
(2020) ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ Turns 120
(2020) University Libraries Offer Online "Lending" of Scanned In-Copyright Books
(2019) The House Votes in Favor of Disastrous Copyright Bill