Wednesday, September 11, 2019

CASE Act passes House Judiciary committee, seems to match Senate's, could pass soon

Electronic Frontier Foundation has reported that the House Judiciary Committee has reported out H.R. 2426, the CASE Act, which appears to duplicate the text of S 1273, the CASE Act.  Here is EFF's actual tweet the evening of September 10. 

As discussed here previously, the legislation, treating a claim as a “traffic ticket”,  could unintentionally embolden copyright trolls, in a manner reminiscent of Righthaven from 2009-2011.

Particularly troubling is that the Copyright Office would not require pre-registration by a claimant before filing a possibly frivolous or inaccurate claim.

The legislation also appears to preclude consideration of the “willful” intention of the defendant, if read literally.

The legislation could pass relatively quickly.  The Copyright office would have a maximum of one year to establish the small claims office and three years to report back to Congress.

To be sure, the Copyright Office tends to be “conservative” and the hope is that they would announce administration procedures to prevent spam or trolling complaints.

But there would be questions like, could materials posted before the Act went into effect be targeted? 

The liability is indeed the speaker/poster’s (not the host’s as under Section 230), but we’re likely to hear comments from Google, Youtube, Blogger, Automattic/Wordpress, and even regular social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in time. (Snapchat doesn't matter because images are ephemeral.) 

I don’t have time right now to find the exact point in the video above where the Judiciary Committee passed the measure, but I believe there was little debate. If somebody knows, please leave a comment.
 In August, Katherine Trendacosta at EFF reported on a tangentially related copyright troll that was using extortion on Youtube, story

As I've noted, in the past two years or so (more or less since Charlottesville) we've seen a real pushback on the public's valuation of user-generated content.  There is a real feeling that people should do something else, like use established organizations and protests instead of speaking for themselves.  I've really noticed this. 
My own Congressional representative is Dan Beyer Here is what I wrote:
“I am quite concerned that the CASE Act would invite copyright trolling and, in practice, put ordinary Internet users at considerable and unpredictable risk of defending themselves from frivolous claims, maybe for pre-existing materials. There seems to be no requirement that the claimant register the item. Can the Copyright office put in administrative procedures to prevent trolling?”

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