Today the Copyright Office released its formal report regarding the challenges of copyright litigation in Federal Court and recommended establishing a small claims court for copyright law. New Media Rights has been heavily involved in these proceedings and the report makes that obvious. New Media Rights is quoted six times and New Media Rights Executive Director is directly quoted by the Copyright Office twice.
New Media Rights saw early on that a new small claims court would have a dramatic impact on independent creators, internet users, and entrepreneurs. We've shared our expertise with the Copyright Office in order to ensure that any new system respects fair use and provides a fair and just system for resolution of copyright disputes, not simply a new venue for content bullying.
Some of New Media Rights recommendations that made it into the final report include:
· Making sure the small claims court system is not adjudicated at the state level because, as quoted in the report, “[w]hile the state small claims courts are well experienced in dealing with small disputes, they usually deal with contract and tort law which have clearer established doctrines and are easier to simplify into matters of equity.”
· Making sure that key parts of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that allow users who have had their videos maliciously taken down allow creators some form of recourse, are included within the jurisdiction of the court.
· Allowing parties to be represented by attorneys because, as quoted by the Copyright Office in the report,“If copyright law is full of issues that even fully trained attorneys struggle with, how will the average small-time plaintiff or defendant successfully represent themselves?”
· The need for consistent application of attorney’s fees and costs as part of a Small Claims system to prevent abuse to the system, because, as quoted in the report “...Prevailing plaintiffs are routinely able to access attorney’s fees simply by having registered the copyright according to the statute, whereas a prevailing defendant often must show that a plaintiff’s claims or conduct during the litigation are frivolous or brought in bad faith in order to earn attorney’s fees.”
New Media Rights is looking forward to continuing to be a vital part of the discussion surrounding this potential copyright small claims court. We hope to be a part of building this court that could radically increase independent creators’ ability to defend their copyrights as well as stand up to content bullying.
Special thanks also goes to California Western School of Law 3L Kyle Welch, one of New Media Rights interns from California Western School of Law who worked extensively on the comments.
New Media Rights is a nonprofit program of California Western School of Law that provides free and reduced-fee legal assistance and education to internet users, journalists, and technology and media entrepreneurs. The program also provides unique hands-on training opportunities for California Western students interested in practicing internet and media law, furthering the law school’s commitment to community engagement and pro bono services.
Since New Media Rights is an independently funded program at California Western, it continues to rely on grants and individual donations to fund its work. To learn more about how you can support New Media Rights’ mission, click here.