Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2019

Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2019

H.R. 2426 passed the House with a vote of 410-6.  The Bill now moves to the Senate.

Bill Text.

The proposal would create a small claims copyright infringement court handled by 3 judge administrative panels handled by the Copyright Office.

Would you take your patent infringement case to the PTAB?

15 thoughts on “Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2019

  1. 9

    Re “Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2019″ H.R. 2426 passed the House with a vote of 410-6..”
    Some of these Representatives may regret their hasty vote after one of their children or grandchildren gets hit with 30 or 60 thousand dollar statutory damages for downloading some unlicensed music.

    1. 9.1

      Was this a “hasty” vote?

      Or is that just your “I don’t like this legislation” feelings being expressed?

  2. 8

    Not that it matters, but corporate giants are generally against this—it’s a cheaper means to recover not-insubstantial damages for copyright infringement and will be a huge headache for large online retailers, infringers, and should lead to a huge uptick in enforcement. Right now, most of these small claims don’t make it to (expensive) court, and many aren’t heard at all. Pro Say is right that well-heeled defendants will fight rulings, but they will have to incur the cost to do so, in many suits, ad infinitum.

    Most importantly, though, for most of the commenters, it’s entirely up to the rights holder which forum to use. So it should put power into copyright holders’ hands.

    I have no position or dog in the fight here. Just my two cents.

    1. 8.1

      Good analysis.

    2. 8.2

      Of course, it may go the other way around. Seems like the biggest thing that is going on right now is that there millions of copyright infringements happening on the Internet. The large corporations may use this to police their copyrights. Seems more plausible as an outcome to me.

      Probably the large players can make this little process expensive for the little guy with discovery etc. But big players will get sophisticated about using this process 100’s of times and can police their copyrights.

      By the way, it is a big deal for many of the big players to enforce their copyrights against minor infractions. I know people personally that have been threatened to be sued for very minor violations.

  3. 7

    While it might be an admirable cause (helping small damages copyright owners – is the spin no doubt) in the longer run: (1) It will be the subject of “regulatory capture” and (2) a further expansion of Administrative courts is a very bad idea. If only we had some sort of document that guaranteed an independent judicial department.

    Prediction? Capture by Disney and a place where derivative work claims go to die. You know, you stole my music or movie plot. If you want to create a small claims copyright court it would be much better to create it like the bankruptcy court.

  4. 6

    Would likely users of this system be the owners of copyrighted materials being unlicensed internet downloaded by individuals?

    1. 6.1

      Note that substantial Statutory Damages will available even for cases of insubstantial actual copyright infringement damages.

  5. 5

    Would I take an infringement case to the PTAB? Yes, under the proper circumstances. One such circumstance would be a small value infringement, say under $15,000. I had a client whose design patent was infringed by a potential customer who took her design and had a Chinese company make a fairly small run of the products. The amount of potential damages did not warrant filing a lawsuit and the infringer knew it. Unfortunately, although the amount of damages was nothing to sneeze at for a small inventor, they did not warrant going to the expense of filing a lawsuit.

    It is quite common in the copyright area to have infringements that are worth under $10,000. Although these infringements can often be pursued if the work was timely registered, a small claims alternative works better for the copyright owner and would frequently be a better option for the infringer.

  6. 4

    Using the question of “Would you take your patent infringement case to the PTAB?” but putting a different spin on things:

    Would you advocate criminal penalties for patent infringement?

    1. 4.1

      Would it even be possible to prove both infringement and validity beyond a reasonable doubt?

      1. 4.1.1

        Why not? The copyright power comes from the same clause (and in some critical aspects is even ‘weaker’ — e.f., fair use).

  7. 3

    Two words:

    Efficient Infringers

  8. 2

    Sure let’s set up another PTAB with copyrights and then have the big corporations stack the PTAB (as they did with Smith hiring the patent judges), etc.

    Rinse. Repeat.

    End copyrights for all but the large corporations.

  9. 1

    Sure; seems like a great idea.

    But don’t believe for a second that large entity copyright infringers are going to accept any decisions against them.

    Instead, they’ll just traipse on over to the local courthouse and fight whomever beat them at the Copyright Office . . . where they’ll financially bury the small entity winner.

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