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?