The House of Representatives will vote tomorrow on the CASE Act, a bill that would fine people who share copyrighted works they don’t own online US$30,000.
The Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2019 (CASE) would create a tribunal separate from the federal judiciary. Instead of fines imposed by a judge they would be imposed by a committee. This committee will oversee complaints from copyright holders and will issue a notice to the person being sued.
One of the most disastrous changes to copyright law the bill creates is granting huge statutory damages to copyright owners who haven’t even registered their works. Under current law, if you copy a work that isn’t registered—meaning, the vast majority of things that are shared by users every single day—you’re only on the hook for the copyright owner’s actual economic loss. This is called “actual damages,” and very often, it’s $0. Under CASE, however, every copyrighted work will automatically eligible for $30,000 in damages—whether or not the owner has bothered to register it.
Once a person gets a notice they have to respond within a fast deadline. Failure to respond by that deadline means you automatically lose the case and fined US$30,000.
The House has overwhelmingly passed the bill 410-6.