Copyright Alliance: Make streaming piracy a US felony, create a legal venue for individual creators

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The Copyright Alliance, a 13,000 member US-based organization that advocates for the protection of copyrighted material by individual creative professionals, has been championing two initiatives before the US Congress this year, and participates in ongoing efforts to update the US’ benchmark Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

The organization has two primary areas of focus: education, to create awareness of copyright law; and advocacy toward protecting the rights of creators.  Is advocacy work is done in the US Congress, by participating in hearings, and by submitting amicus briefs.

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Making streaming piracy a US felony

The Hill, a Washington DC-based online journal that covers American politics, ran an article by Copyright Alliance CEO Keith Kupferschmid, to reinforce lawmaker awareness of the risks of piracy, both against copyright holders and against consumers.

Copyright Alliance is participating in a negotiation process with the goal to produce consensus legislation that would regulate streaming piracy as a felony under US copyright law, rather than as a misdemeanor, which would increase the range of remedies available to law enforcement and the courts.  The Hill article refers to a two-page proposal before the US Congress, which is not yet available for public view because it is still in its draft form.

Read Mr. Kupferschmid’s article in The Hill

“Small Claims Court” for copyright claims

Copyright Alliance has also been pressing for the passage of a the “Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2019″ (aka “The CASE Act”), which would create a venue for copyright claims by individual and small business content creators within the US Copyright Office.  The CASE Act has passed the US House of Representatives as HR.2426, and is now before the US Senate as S.1273.

Because the CASE Act would limit claims to $30,000, it is not targeted toward industrial-scale piracy, where large media companies and service providers would petition for settlements ranging into the many millions of dollars.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Another example of Copyright Alliance advocacy is the input it has provided toward updating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.  One area is to update the ‘notice and takedown’ process in Section 512, which is aimed at stopping re-distribution by pirates.  Currently, take-down notices against infringing Web sites must be submitted for every occurrence of infringement, even if it is essentially the same site but has changed its IP address or domain name.  As an example, one large media company submitted 35,000 notices to the same infringing Web site over a three month period.

Copyright Alliance also notes that individual creators simply don’t have the resources to deal with infringement.  An example noted in Copyright Alliance’s DMCA input is that of an individual who had never personally posted his work on social media sites, but “still spent four hours on Tumblr trying to locate 50 of the 2000+ URLs that contained re-postings of his work.”

What happens next?

When the “Piracy as a felony” and “Small Claims Court” initiatives may become the law of the land is uncertain.  First of all, it’s 2020, and you may have heard that the US is holding a national election which is likely to change the makeup of the US Congress and therefore, Congressional support for these measures.  Also, it’s 2020, with all the other attendant concerns that this year has brought.

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