News and Commentary
The Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act would establish a small-claims court in the U.S. Copyright Office as an alternative for traditional copyright infringement claims. While streamlining the litigation process sounds reasonable, CASE Act requires defendants to appear in the District of Columbia, it allows for infringement suits to be brought against unregistered works, and in all likelihood defendants won’t know they are being sued. This makes it an undesirable piece of legislation, write Sasha Moss and Joshua Lamel.
Following two weeks of hearings on their proposed reforms to Section 101, Senators Chris Coons and Thom Tillis penned an op-ed in The Hill, in support of their proposed reform. Their argument hinges on how our current system generates uncertainty over what can and cannot be patented. They are also, in direct response to critics, emphatic in stating that this reform would not allow genes from the human body to be patented.
The far-right site Infowars has settled with Matt Furie, creator of the Pepe the Frog meme, for $15,000 after being sued for copyright infringement. “Furie has stated publicly through his lawyers that this wasn’t meant to be a money grab. Instead, it was meant to deter other groups that would seek to re-purpose Pepe for hateful speech. This, again, is simply not the purpose of copyright law. Furie can be permissive with the image being used by some and restrictive for others, but the fact that copyright law allows this is a bug and not a feature” writes Timothy Geigner of Tech Dirt.
A Texas court rejected a man’s claim that the use of a photo to which he held the rights constitutes a “taking.” Jim Olive sued the University of Houston for takings rather than copyright infringement when it used a photo of his because UH is a public university, which cannot be sued for copyright infringement due to sovereign immunity.
NPR’s Planet Money writes about the flop Aladdin movie, with a 9 figure budget, and what it teaches us about copyright. As evidence for why copyright increases the production of creative works, the authors point to a (recently revised) study which found that the imposition of copyright laws in 19th-century Italy increased the production of operas. There is a catch–once copyright terms exceed life of the author plus 40 years, there is a decline in output. Current copyright terms allow for life of the author plus 70 years.