UK Kicks Off Small Claims Court For 'Small Scale' Copyright Claims

from the would-that-help? dept

It’s no secret that one of the significant problems with copyright law today are the ridiculous statutory damages, set by Congress, which have absolutely no reasonable connection to the “harm” being done. The idea that you could owe $150,000 for sharing a single song should be horrific to just about everyone (though, of course, the maximalists always have crazy ways to justify such insane and punitive damages). However, over in the UK, one thing they’re trying to tackle is changing the equation for “small scale” copyright disputes. Specifically, they’ve set up the equivalent of a small claims court for copyright issues, which makes the process much cheaper and faster.

“Small firms, whose intellectual property has been infringed, will have today a simpler and easier way to take their cases forward, by writing direct to the judge and setting out the issues,” Business Minister Michael Fallon said in a statement. “Lower legal costs will make it easier for entrepreneurs to protect their creative ideas where they had previously struggled to access justice in what could often be an expensive progress. A smarter and cheaper process is good for business and helping businesses make the most of their intellectual property is good for the economy.”

I question how effective this will be, but at least it is a different approach. If nothing else, it will be worthwhile for the sake of seeing how well (if at all) it works. I don’t see how this really solves any of the big problems with massive damages. All it really does is make it easier for there to be more copyright lawsuits, though with limited benefits for those who file. It seems like the kind of system that’s going to see a lot of attempted abuse. We already see so much abuse of the existing copyright system, so are we sure it’s a good idea to make it even easier for some to file lawsuits — even with the limited punishment?

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Comments on “UK Kicks Off Small Claims Court For 'Small Scale' Copyright Claims”

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Josef Anvil (profile) says:

If its a crime then treat it like one

Want to stop the companies from filing lawsuits? They call infringement theft and say its a huge crime, it did make a splash on Crime Inc.

Give them what they want. Catch the infringers and impose a fine or jail time. The companies will see no gain other than the increase in sales that such enforcement will bring about. Since these companies are so confident that infringement is the cause of their woes, they should have no problem investing money in legal teams that reap no financial gain in court.

Anonymous Coward says:

‘A smarter and cheaper process is good for business and helping businesses make the most of their intellectual property is good for the economy.’

it isn’t going to do anything for those accused, or to stop the false claims. as for actually fixing what is really wrong with the whole copyright problem, this will do precisely nothing! what Fallon ought to do is look at the reasons why file sharing happens in the first place and the ‘evidence’ that is used to prosecute such cases. he should then be stopping the ‘guilty unless able to prove innocence’ syndrome which is totally contrary to the legal system of all supposed democratic countries, except the USA, and just about everywhere in the EU. the dictatorships and communist countries like Iran and China are laughing their bollocks off at how they are condemned for the way they treat their citizens when the similarities to everywhere else are so obvious now!

Michael says:

They want to ‘streamline’ the litigation process for copyright infringement. They may as well do it like a fast food drive thru. “Here’s your fine for $2,000. Have a nice day sir.” Just think of all the money they can extract from the general public, how much suffering it’s going to cause for lower income households, all for the sake of a few wealthy CEOs. This style of trickle-up economics ought to help boost the economy, right?

DannyB (profile) says:

High Court/Low Court justice

Let’s see this for what it really is.

High Court vs Low Court justice.

In low court, if you don’t pay the “settlement” extortion letter for $7500, then the low court will impose it on you, guilty or not. It’s not a pre-litigation settlement anymore, it’s a judgement of the court. It’s the same amount, so the dinosaurs get what they want. The dinosaurs don’t have to play the game of pre-discovery of the identity of IP addresses, because in this new Low Court they will genuinely be willing to actually litigate. And court costs? Those will be very small so that they can now economically file one complaint per IP address, the court can discover the identity without revealing it to the dinosaur, then the dinosaur proceeds to litigate, regardless of any appearance or defense by the accused, the court finds against them and hands them exactly the “low” amount that the dinosaurs actually wanted, say about $7500. This solves so many problems. It streamlines the process. It works around the fact that so many courts are seeing through the extortion scam of dinosaurs not having any genuine intent to litigate.

Look for the courts to automate the filing and discovery process so that a Bot from the dinosaurs can submit mass numbers of complaints.

The RIAA is happy. The MPAA is happy. So everyone is happy. Everything is great. There couldn’t possibly be any other stakeholders who should have any input.

The court doesn’t need drive-thru service, they can just send you your guilty verdict in the mail with the amount of the judgement against you that the court determined.

DannyB (profile) says:


Drive-through service is so 20th century. This new court can just mail you your guilty verdict along with the amount of the court judgement against you. Interestingly, this new “low” amount will be just about the same amount that the dinosaurs try to collect today using pre-litigation settlement extortion letters. This whole scam beautifully works around how courts are waking up to the copyright dinosaurs using the courts as part of their extortion racket. High Court vs Low Court justice.

DogBreath says:

Re: Re:

i know there will be brown envelopes floating around politicians and courts, but i dont believe that all those people are corrupt. surely some must be reasonably honest?

No, because all of their associated IP addresses are on a guaranteed “Do Not Sue” list. If one of those accidentally gets “sued”, it will be rejected automatically in court because it’s on the “Do Not Sue” list.

Politicians and those well connected constantly get away with these things because they have the power to exclude themselves from laws that are only written for (against) the little people (commoners). This one will be no different.

Anonymous Coward says:

New old extortion scheme:
1. File a lawsuit in the Small Claims Court for a minor copyright offense
2. Ask a small amount of money to compensate abuse of copyright
3. Repeat 1-2 to get many successes
4. File a lawsuit in the Small Claims Court for a minor copyright offense, claiming it’s major
5. Ask for the maximal amount of money, pointing to many past successful cases
6. Repeat 4-5 indefinitely
7. When people are fed up, ask for a Small Claims Court
8. Go to 1.

Sam Talger says:

UK Small claims court

Even as of right now US congress is hotly debating the issue.
But to comment on the original authors point of view. I can’t speak for any artist but myself, but the $150,000.00 punitive damages cap is the law for a number of reasons. One is that is a deterrant for copyright infringers. If the number was too low, infringers would not be afraid to say download a music file with bit torrents.

So truly part of his arguement is mostly pro infringer.

The US congress has been listening to arguement pro and against small claims for the last decade.

Some preety good debates. In fact the original contributor would have like one speakers suggestion of $10 fine for non commerical infringement.

But because copyright work could be seen like useful “Squirrels” vulnerable to polution, human intrusion, the remedy sometimes isn’t to just keep on doing what we want to
small animals but to try to find a very good balance between us and them.

So the copyright laws could be seen as a balance between the creator of useful arts (music,movies,books,dance,fine arts)
and the audience.

Yes many will pay to buy an album, or artists will find a better online distributor for their music. But copyright laws are basically down to this.

Every professional work has a price value. I drink soda. It costs 1.60. Do I need it? No. Do I like it? Most of the time. Should it be for free?

No. The people who make the soda have the right to charge a price for the man hours, materials, rental of warehouse, shipping, distribution.

Woah. It gets really expensive to make on bottle of soda.

Same with books, music, movies. Star Wars III cost $20 million dollars.

So a democratic way to cover cost is to charge a small amount per person in equal amounts.

1978 money $3.00 a movie ticket if I remember right. Yes after a 20 million people pay for one ticket, the cost are covered and the artists involved can now be compensated for their work.

So at the heart of copyrights is still good solid democracy and capitalism. A good balance.

The other two protecting creative works. And finally penalties for infringers.

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