U.S. House approves online copyright bill

On Oct. 22, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill that would create a copyright small claims court for online content creators. The measure was approved by a vote of 410-6.

The Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act, or the CASE Act, would let authors, graphic artists, photographers and other internet content creators go after copyright infringers in a special small claims court if they are seeking a total of $30,000 or less in damages. Currently, all copyright cases are required to go through the federal court system, which takes a significant amount of time and money. The bill was introduced by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., in 2018.

Proponents of the CASE Act claim it will streamline copyright infringement cases for both plaintiffs and defendants. They also point out the small claims court will only be an option and both parties will have to agree use it before a case can move forward. However, the American Civil Liberties Union and other opponents of the bill argue that it could cause average internet users to be sued for thousands for simply copying and pasting a meme. The Senate Judiciary Committee has forwarded the bill to the Senate for a floor vote.

Internet copyright infringement disputes can involve photographs, graphic art, written web page content, video productions, motion pictures, computer software code, audio recordings, books and more. These types of intellectual property cases can be complex and time-consuming for all parties involved. However, with the help of a copyright attorney, it might be possible to avoid litigation and resolve the matter out of court. If litigation becomes necessary, legal counsel could represent a client's interests throughout the process and push for a favorable outcome.

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