Copyright Law Updates | New Statutes, Regulations and Rules
August 30, 2012
Copyright Office Requests Additional Comments on Remedies for Small Copyright Claims; Announces Public Meetings
Remedies for Small Copyright Claims: Additional Comments
Copyright Office Issue 464, Docket No. 2011–10, Federal Register Vol. 77, No. 164, 8/23/2012
The Copyright Office is issuing a second request for public comment pertaining to a study undertaken by the Copyright Office at the request of Congress on the topic of adjudicating small copyright claims.
The study will assess whether and, if so, how the current legal system hinders or prevents copyright owners from pursuing claims that have a relatively small economic value. The study will also discuss and make recommendations on potential changes in administrative, regulatory, and statutory authority.
The Office is seeking additional comments on how a copyright small claims system might be structured and function, as well as replies to earlier comments. In addition, the Office announces two public meetings on remedies for small copyright claims: the first to be held in New York City on November 15 and 16, 2012, and the second in Los Angeles on November 26 and 27, 2012. Further information on the meetings will be published on the Copyright Office website by October 15, 2012.
The Copyright Act protects a wide variety of works of authorship, from individual articles or photographs that may not have a high commercial value to motion pictures worth hundreds of millions of dollars in the marketplace.
The copyright owners of all of these works can use copyright law to pursue certain unauthorized uses. Not all of these copyright owners, however, have the same resources to bring a federal lawsuit, which can require substantial time, money, and effort. Moreover, while a copyright owner may want to stop an infringement that caused a relatively small amount of economic damage, that owner may be dissuaded from filing a lawsuit because a potentially small award may not justify the potentially large expense of litigation. While the Act offers the possibility of statutory damages and attorney fees, these benefits are not available in all cases and parties cannot recover them until after the copyright owner has engaged in a potentially long court battle that requires up front costs.
The Copyright Office has been asked by Congress to study the obstacles facing small copyright claims disputes, as well as possible alternatives. Specifically, the Office is to undertake a study to: (1) assess the extent to which authors and other copyright owners are effectively prevented from seeking relief from infringements due to constraints in the current system; and (2) furnish specific recommendations, as appropriate, for changes in administrative, regulatory and statutory authority that will improve the adjudication of small copyright claims and thereby enable all copyright owners to more fully realize the promise of exclusive rights enshrined in our Constitution.
The initial notice of inquiry seeks comment on how copyright owners have handled small copyright claims and the obstacles they have encountered, as well as potential alternatives to the current legal system that could better accommodate such claims.
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