The Copyright Office has begun a process of considering creating a small claims court or system for small-scale copyright disputes. This would affect the internet users and independent creators NMR assists significantly.
In our October 19, 2012 comments, we argue any small claims system will need to address misuse of copyright law, abuse of the DMCA takedown process, and the general discrepancy in how attorney’s fees and costs are awarded to prevailing defendants.
Abuses of copyright law are rampant in the current system. Creators and internet users regularly face baseless content removals and settlement demands. Right now, much of this misuse and abuse takes place outside of the formal court system. A small claims system for copyright would naturally lower the bar for copyright bullies to bring formal actions against defendants.
Many of the defendants in the new system will be these same vulnerable independent creators and internet users already facing abuse in our informal system. When considering such a significant change to the current copyright system, the Copyright Office must ensure that the new playing field that is created allows defendants an adequate opportunity to defend themselves and pursue those who abuse and misuse copyright law.
Thanks to legal interns Alex Johnson and Kyle Welch for their assistance in drafting these comments.