As the current pandemic eviscerates jobs throughout our economy, Congress has a rare opportunity to improve the lot of one long-besieged group of workers: creators. Authors, songwriters, photographers, artists, filmmakers, and many other creative professionals are the lifeblood of American cultural innovation. For decades, however, unfettered copyright infringement online has undermined their livelihoods. The effect is especially pronounced for “creative upstarts”—independent creators who rely on copyright income. Many creative upstarts report widespread piracy of their works but feel powerless to stop it. Now, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) seems intent on unilaterally terminating a bill that if passed would give indie creators—thousands of whom live in Wyden’s state of Oregon—much needed access to justice. ***
Right now, Congress can fix this problem and offer much-needed support to creators by passing the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act. This bill would create a voluntary, low-cost small claims system for copyright cases. The CASE Act provides for simplified procedures that the average person could navigate without an attorney, greatly reducing costs. The bill also contains a progressive feature critical for access to justice: cases would be handled remotely, further reducing the cost and burden for both parties. And the process is voluntary so each party can weigh for itself the pros and cons of participating.
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