Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Simplified Process Is in the Works for Bringing Smaller Copyright Infringement Cases

At the end of October, Congress asked the Copyright Office to study the problems surrounding small copyright disputes. The results, which involve the establishment of a small claims court, could have major implications for artists who use appropriated material as well as those whose material is appropriated by others.  
Under the Copyright Act o all copyright infringement claims — whether they concern a blockbuster Hollywood movie or an individual photograph — must be brought to federal court. The high legal fees associated with this process often dissuade individual copyright holders from filing a lawsuit, and can bankrupt defendants. (In 2011, for instance, the median cost for litigating a copyright-infringement lawsuit with less than $1 million at risk was $350,000, according to the Federal Register.) When the reward is likely to be small, the protracted legal process doesn’t help, either: the median duration of a federal case that went trial in 2009 and 2010 was 23 months.
The copyright office is soliciting comments from the public through January 16 to help it write the report, which it will then pass on to the Congressional Subcommittee on the Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property.


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