Today, Public Knowledge sent a letter urging Congress to vote against H.R. 2426, the “Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2019” (CASE Act). Public Knowledge opposes the bill as written because it would create an unaccountable “court” within the legislative branch and empower it to issue unreviewable, unappealable default judgments of up to $30,000 against private parties in copyright infringement claims — potentially without the knowledge or consent of the “defendants” on whom those judgments are levied.
The following is an excerpt from the letter:
“Rather than subjecting the bill to scrutiny and public debate, proponents have rammed H.R. 2426 through to the floor without a single hearing or opportunity for amendment. A prior iteration of the bill was given only one hearing at the end of last Congress, with zero witnesses representing consumers or members of the general public who are most likely to be harmed by the legislation. There have been no hearings — either in the House or Senate — since. The only explanation for such an opaque and rushed process is that the CASE Act cannot survive even minor scrutiny.
“A close examination of the substance of the bill reveals why it has been rammed through without meaningful opportunity for public input and debate: the system it creates is ineffective at best, and predatory at worst. The ‘court’ created by CASE relies on a constitutionally suspect opt-out provision, in which a failure to respond waives the respondent’s constitutional right to a jury trial. Respondents with any modicum of sophistication — including tech platforms, which the bill has been widely reported as targeting — will simply opt out of the court’s jurisdiction.”
The following can be attributed to Meredith Rose, Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:
“The CASE Act makes big promises and falls short on every single one. It will not be able to meaningfully hold online platforms accountable; it invites abuse and bad actors; it sweeps in only the least sophisticated ‘defendants’; it is completely beyond the reach of meaningful accountability; and it is likely unconstitutional to boot. We urge members to vote ‘no’ on H.R. 2426, and focus on finding real, workable solutions to addressing the burden of small creators enforcing their statutory rights.”
You may view the letter here. You may also view our recent blog posts, “The CASE Act: Small Claims, Big Risks” and “What a Reasonable Copyright Small-Claims Court Would Look Like” for more information.
Members of the media may contact Communications Director Shiva Stella with inquiries, interview requests, or to join the Public Knowledge press list at firstname.lastname@example.org or 405-249-9435.