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Opinion: CASE Act will Harm Researchers and Freedom of Inquiry

  • Author(s): Benson, Sara
  • Vollmer, Timothy
  • et al.
Abstract

The Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2020 (CASE Act) was swept into law during the final days of 2020 as a part of the 5,500 page federal spending bill. In theory, the CASE Act aims to provide a venue for individual creators (such as photographers, graphic artists, musicians) to address smaller copyright infringement claims without spending the time and money required to pursue a copyright infringement lawsuit in Federal court. In reality, however, this additional bureaucratic structure created outside of the traditional court system is fraught with problems that will mostly incentivize large, well-resourced rightsholders or overly litigious copyright owners to take advantage of the system. At the same time, it will confuse and harm innocuous users of content, who may not understand the complexities of copyright law, and who do not know whether or how to respond to a notice of infringement via this small claims process. From our perspective, it will chill users who rely on crucial statutory exceptions to copyright, such as fair use, in their research and teaching activities.

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