Why Is Congress Moving Forward With Its Plan To Encourage Copyright Trolling?

from the shameful dept

You would be hard pressed to think what the world needs is more copyright lawsuits. As we've discussed for years now, the US is already inundated with copyright lawsuits, many (perhaps most) of them filed by so-called "copyright trolls" who are seeking to shakedown recipients with "settlement" demands. A competent Congress would respond by looking at this abuse of the court system for extortionate purposes and maybe make it less inclined to abuse.

But not this Congress.

Instead, it has decided to bring back a truly awful idea: a special copyright trolling court, which it likes to say is the equivalent of a "small claims court" for copyright. The latest version of the CASE (Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Act of 2019) in the House and the Senate was introduced recently, and is getting lots of love from all the usual sources.

We should note, that the House bill is sponsored by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, along with Jerry Nadler. You may recall that those two Congressman were recently seen hosting a giant $5k per ticket fundraiser at the Recording Industry's biggest party of the year, the Grammys. And, right afterwards, they suddenly introduce a bill that will help enable more copyright trolling? Welcome to the world of soft corruption.

As we explained last year when this monstrosity was introduced as well, the bill is written in a manner totally disconnected from reality. Supporters insist it is "too difficult" to sue over copyright, yet provide no evidence that this is true. But, more importantly, the entire framing of the bill is based on the idea that those who sue for copyright infringement only do so when they have valid claims. Indeed, anyone paying even the slightest bit of attention to copyright lawsuits over the last decade would know this is laughable.

The entire bill is disconnected from reality and would only serve to make copyright trolling become an even bigger problem, and would enable an even more significant level of the copyright shakedown game, in which dubious claims of infringement are tossed around in hopes of extracting settlement fees. At a time when we should be looking to stop such extortionate acts, these bills move in the other direction. It's a joke.

Filed Under: case act, copyright, copyright trolling, hakeem jeffries, jerry nadler, small claims


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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 9:50am

    I can answer that question in one word.

    Why is Congress moving forward with its plan to encourage copyright trolling?

    Money.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Harry Plank-Walker, 28 May 2019 @ 10:36am

      Re: I can answer that question in one word.

      Money.

      Exactly! You are for once right. -- You pirates aren't PAYING, that's the WHOLE of the problem.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2019 @ 11:01am

        Remember:

        Don't feed the trolls.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        crade (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 11:03am

        Re: Re: I can answer that question in one word.

        and it's too tough to get the right people to pay the right amounts to the right people so instead we just get undeserving people to pay incorrect amounts to whoever bribes us best.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2019 @ 11:30am

        Re: Re: I can answer that question in one word.

        I was unaware of the law(s) that say I have to purchase music, movies, whatever. Is there a mandatory viewing list too? What if I do not want to watch or listen to that crappy shit they call media? Come and arrest me for not watching and listening to your shit ... the fake news will have a hay day.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 12:11pm

        Please explain how widescale copyright infringement makes someone decide to run a copyright trolling scheme.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Pixelation, 28 May 2019 @ 6:34pm

          Re:

          I can answer that...MONEY!

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 29 May 2019 @ 2:34am

          Re:

          There's such a mad moral panic about it and there's a lot of money to be made from people stupid enough to think of copyright as a fountain flowing deep and wide. If we thought of copyright in the way the Framers of the Constitution did, we wouldn't have copyright trolls.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2019 @ 1:27am

      And they're going to use tax payers money to fund it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 29 May 2019 @ 6:07am

      Re: I can answer that question in one word.

      Why? Because Patent Trolling is working so well that we must need Copyright Trolling also.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2019 @ 6:46am

      Abolish copyright.

      Stop the insanity.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Richard Bennett (profile), 10 Jun 2019 @ 7:07pm

        Re: Abolish copyright.

        This is what passes for reasonable on Techdirt.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 12 Jun 2019 @ 7:51am

          Re: Re: Abolish copyright.

          And what would that be? Stopping insane new laws and policies? Or getting a rid of a broken system that at this point mostly exists to extort money from artists, creators, and their fans and customers?

          Try again Richard.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonmylous, 28 May 2019 @ 10:17am

    Call a spade a spade.

    When does "soft" corruption become "actual" corruption, cause the line doesn't really seem to exist anymore. Bringing in benefits to your constituents in exchange for jobs, economic spending, etc would at least have some justification for considering the speech of a business or industry over that of the people who actually put you in power. Even if all this money does go into a campaign fund... why is it not corruption? Its using the power granted you by the people of the United States to raise cash simply to get re-elected by considering the words of private industry over the voice of the people.

    We're tired of endless copyright legislation extension. In fact we're sick and tired of all so-called "Intellectual Property" overreach.

    Copyright "Industry", you better take note. You've decided to go up against the 1st Amendment. We're gonna call you task on it sooner rather than later, and there will be a reckoning. Your 'right' to make money against my actual right to expression is going to be your downfall.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Shufflepants (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 10:41am

      Re: Call a spade a spade.

      The only difference between "soft" corruption and "actual" corruption is legal technicality and enforcement. They're both corruption.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Toom1275 (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 11:17pm

        Re: Re: Call a spade a spade.

        Everybody is talkin‘ these days about Tammany men growin’ rich on graft, but nobody thinks of drawin‘ the distinction between honest graft and dishonest graft. There’s all the difference in the world between the two. Yes, many of our men have grown rich in politics. I have myself. I’ve made a big fortune out of the game, and I’m gettin’ richer every day, but I’ve not gone in for dishonest graft—blackmailin' gamblers, saloonkeepers, disorderly people, etc.—and neither has any of the men who have made big fortunes in politics.

        There’s an honest graft, and I’m an example of how it works. I might sum up the whole thing by sayin‘: “I seen my opportunities and I took ’em.”

        Just let me explain by examples. My party’s in power in the city, and it’s goin' to undertake a lot of public improvements. Well, I’m tipped off, say, that they’re going to lay out a new park at a certain place.

        I see my opportunity and I take it. I go to that place and I buy up all the land I can in the neighborhood. Then the board of this or that makes its plan public, and there is a rush to get my land, which nobody cared particular for before.

        Ain’t it perfectly honest to charge a good price and make a profit on my investment and foresight? Of course, it is. Well, that’s honest graft. Or supposin‘ it’s a new bridge they’re goin’ to build. I get tipped off and I buy as much property as I can that has to be taken for approaches. I sell at my own price later on and drop some more money in the bank.

        Wouldn’t you? It’s just like lookin‘ ahead in Wall Street or in the coffee or cotton market. It’s honest graft, and I’m lookin’ for it every day in the year. I will tell you frankly that I’ve got a good lot of it, too.

        […]

        I’ve told you how I got rich by honest graft. Now, let me tell you that most politicians who are accused of robbin' the city get rich the same way.

        They didn’t steal a dollar from the city treasury. They just seen their opportunities and took them. That is why, when a reform administration comes in and spends a half million dollars in tryin' to find the public robberies they talked about in the campaign, they don’t find them.

        The books are always all right. The money in the city treasury is all right. Everything is all right. All they can show is that the Tammany heads of departments looked after their friends, within the law, and gave them what opportunities they could to make honest graft. Now, let me tell you that’s never goin' to hurt Tammany with the people. Every good man looks after his friends, and any man who doesn’t isn’t likely to be popular. If I have a good thing to hand out in private life, I give it to a friend. Why shouldn’t I do the same in public life?

        […]

        • George Washington Plunkitt

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        DannyB (profile), 29 May 2019 @ 6:06am

        Re: Re: Call a spade a spade.

        What is the difference between

        1. 'parallel construction'

        2. 'a conspiracy between prosecution and law enforcement to commit perjury and lie to the court and defense about how the actual course of the investigation proceeded'

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2019 @ 11:32am

      Re: Call a spade a spade.

      I do not think there is much difference, they do not think they are violating any laws, because when they do it that makes it ok for them to do it ... but not you, of course.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2019 @ 6:15am

        Re: Re: Call a spade a spade.

        "I do not think there is much difference, they do not think they are violating any laws, because when they do it that makes it ok for them to do it ... but not you, of course."

        All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2019 @ 4:59am

      Re: Call a spade a spade.

      When does "soft" corruption become "actual" corruption, cause the line doesn't really seem to exist anymore.

      You can think former VA governor Bob McDonnell and his blanket immunity granted, from the Supreme Court, for that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Why., 28 May 2019 @ 10:19am

    Why did the EU Copyright directive get approved?
    Why did Net Neutrailty die?
    Why did the DMCA become a thing?
    Why did someone come up with notice and staydown?

    At this point why anything?

    Why.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    discordian_eris (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 10:34am

    A competent Congress You answered the question already.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Harry Plank-Walker, 28 May 2019 @ 10:40am

    Instead, it has decided to bring back a truly awful idea: a special copyright trolling court, which it likes to say is the equivalent of a "small claims court" for copyright.

    Listen. If you're going to claim that your non-thefts at most cause loss of potential income to creators, then YOU have provided the reason for a special court.

    All you do is continue your 20-year jihad to destroy copyright entirely. -- Oh, sure, you all "support copyright" (new readers will be interested to learn that Techdirt / Masnick used to claim that did!) until there's least hampering of your ability to download, service cut-off as you agreed in your ISP contract, or any other tiny bit of enforcement.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Harry Plank-Walker, 28 May 2019 @ 10:41am

      Re: Continue your 20-year jihad to destroy copyright entirely

      Dang. For once forgot subject line.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2019 @ 11:33am

        Re: Re: Continue your 20-year jihad to destroy copyright entirel

        Let us not bring religion into discussions of this cult like organization.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 12:13pm

      For what reason does the issue of not being able to sell something require a special court to solve?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 10:42am

    The Pilgrams left..

    Turkey day and the Pilgrims..
    For those that have any history on this subject, you KNOW they left the EU to get AWAY FROM THE BS...that was happening.

    NOW where do we go??

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2019 @ 11:34am

      Re: The Pilgrams left..

      Did they actually eat turkey?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Annonymouse, 28 May 2019 @ 3:28pm

        Re: Re: The Pilgrams left..

        Nope and they were not very nice to their neighbors either.

        Also they left because the EU was too accepting of things they were against except that whole marriage thing .(shudders)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          ECA (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 6:24pm

          Re: Re: Re: The Pilgrams left..

          That boat wasnt filled with religious persons, it had them, but also many others..so you point is really specific..rather then the general census.
          Many were religious, not all. and the ship returned home.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2019 @ 6:20am

      Re: The Pilgrams left..

      "For those that have any history on this subject, you KNOW they left the EU to get AWAY FROM THE BS...that was happening."

      Some thought George Orwell's 1984 was a warning.

      Others thought it was a set of blueprints.

      Hail the Ministry of Patents.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2019 @ 10:46am

    the answer would be to find out who is gonna gain out of doing this. that would then provide the answers!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    AJ (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 11:23am

    Taste their own medicine?

    How legal/illegal is copyright trolling? If the only real cost of doing it is the court filings, why haven't opponents to the copyright maximalists ever sued politicians pushing this kind of thing for (possibly fake) copyright violations using the laws they wrote?

    This might make some interesting blog stories: Politicians indicted/convicted by the laws they wrote (or voted for at least).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2019 @ 11:36am

      Re: Taste their own medicine?

      Copy right trolling is fraud.

      Last I checked, that was still on the books as illegal, however - those put in charge of enforcing the laws sometimes look the other way when it is a campaign contributor.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2019 @ 2:43pm

        Re: Re: Taste their own medicine?

        Copyright trolling isn't listed as illegal in any law, particularly when you're prone to calling all enforcement of copyright, "trolling".

        Who in god's name would want to pirate these days anyway? The experience is really unpleasant compared to just paying for the actual service.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 2:52pm

          Copyright trolling isn't listed as illegal in any law, particularly when you're prone to calling all enforcement of copyright, "trolling".

          Be careful with that scarecrow. You wouldn’t want any straw to get in your eyes.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2019 @ 12:25am

          Re: Re: Re: Taste their own medicine?

          Copyright trolling isn't listed as illegal in any law

          Being an idiot isn't listed as illegal in any law either. Just because something isn't listed as illegal doesn't mean it stops being annoying as fuck. The good news is that the Prenda Law convictions are going to set plenty of nice precedents to make "copyright trolling" more than a term judges are now more willing to use.

          Well, I never said the good news would be for you.

          particularly when you're prone to calling all enforcement of copyright, "trolling"

          Copyright cases typically resolve either with the defendant getting scared into settling, or the plaintiffs running like hell when the judge asks to verify the accuracy of their claims. Neither scenario involves any meaningful scrutiny of the standards of evidence.

          If I smell smoke, feel uncomfortable levels of heat, and see bursts of flame in front of me, I don't need to be a chemist, or to be told by you that I need to be one, to tell when my house is on fire.

          Who in god's name would want to pirate these days anyway? The experience is really unpleasant compared to just paying for the actual service.

          This might actually counted as a point if not for the fact that copyright trolling doesn't care if the person on the receiving end of a subpoena is a pirate or not. Children, grandparents, misnamed people, homeless people, computer-less people, Internet-less people, dead people have all been asked to pay up by copyright enforcement.

          So close, but no cigar.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2019 @ 6:44am

          Re: Re: Re: Taste their own medicine?

          "Copyright trolling isn't listed as illegal in any law"

          I typed "Copy right trolling is fraud".
          Followed by "Last I checked, that was still on the books as illegal"

          Using contextual inference ... it is plainly obvious that I am saying fraud is illegal.

          Hope this helps, have a good day :)

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 11:51am

    "the entire framing of the bill is based on the idea that those who sue for copyright infringement only do so when they have valid claims"

    If only there were a case where the Feds took some copyright trolls who abused the system to the woodshed... o_O

    I think we need to demand they use actual evidence when crafting laws, as opposed to the whining of cartel members who have been enjoying such success despite the decades of claiming they were being robbed blind.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Glenn, 28 May 2019 @ 12:15pm

    The concept of copyright as it's defined now is disconnected from reality, so more of the same should be no surprise. "Copyright" has become just a license to steal by those who have already stolen it all and want to steal every "new" thing that comes along.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 5:04pm

    'Because fuck you' is not a joke

    At a time when we should be looking to stop such extortionate acts, these bills move in the other direction. It's a joke.

    No, see, jokes are supposed to be funny, that's kinda how they're defined. This is both insult and injury, insult to the intelligence of anyone who has any knowledge on the subject, and injury to the large numbers of victims the bills/politicians will be creating.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2019 @ 6:48am

      Re: 'Because fuck you' is not a joke

      But it is a huge joke to them as they laugh about it at their cocktail parties. There is a term used to describe those who derive pleasure from the anguish of others.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2019 @ 7:50pm

    This alternative forum suffers from some of the problems of arbitration, such as limited/plaintiff-friendly discovery, no penalty for the "judges" who rule arbitrarily, and the fact that this alternative forum exists, in part, as a way to reduce the risk that any cases will get to the appellate courts, where things could potentially go the "wrong" way for the plaintiffs, or where a circuit split would eventually be resolved by a Supreme Court case or by new laws favorable to defendants.

    The proposed text of the law requires the small claims court to defer to district court precedents, including for 512(f) claims, without addressing the fact that district courts have concluded that 512(f) is entirely toothless.

    Real courts keep defendants anonymous (when identified only by IP address) as long as possible, and they take a dim view of cases being dismissed once the defendants are identified. Would the copyright small claims court be similarly inclined? Or is it something that only would be available as a forum after the defendants are personally identified?

    Regardless, it sounds like it is not just a court for the benefit of copyright trolls, but also for legitimate claims against the general public, i.e. meme sharers, file sharers, photo bloggers, etc., with lower stakes but also fewer protections for the defendants.

    Just a layperson's impressions here; correct me if I was off the mark.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2019 @ 9:37pm

    Damn, out_of_the_blue and Hamilton are seriously picking up the slack after their glorious hero John Steele bit the bullet...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 29 May 2019 @ 2:32am

    An answer

    Why Is Congress Moving Forward With Its Plan To Encourage Copyright Trolling?

    Campaign $$$.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2019 @ 5:05am

    Just another example of the system optimizing efficiency.

    You can imagine her shock when she got a letter threatening to sue her and her businesses, unless she paid a licensing fee for every employee who used the scan-to-email function on the business copier.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Richard Bennett (profile), 10 Jun 2019 @ 7:21pm

    This post is so wrong

    Go read David Newhoff about all things Masnick gets wrong about the CASE Act. This is a pathetic misinterpretation even by Techdirt's low standards.

    https://illusionofmore.com/masnick-calls-case-a-big-media-bill/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Jun 2019 @ 8:38am

      Richard's comment is so wrong

      That article is a lot of bluff, bluster, and assertions with zero actual facts to back them up. (Even the one external link in that blog article doesn't provide any actual facts, it just makes more assertions, FROM THE COPYRIGHT ALLIANCE, oh gee) Meanwhile Mike links to THE ACTUAL BILLS and other primary sources to support his assertions.

      Not to mention that blog has other articles that are BLATANTLY wrong and completely misrepresent or misinterpret actual law. For instance, he makes the claim that the recent Pelosi "video" is illegal. And I quote:

      For consideration, recognize that the Pelosi “drunk” video is intrinsically copyright infringement, libel, and an infringement of the subject’s first amendment rights.

      Let's break this down:

      video is intrinsically copyright infringement

      Whose copyright is being infringed here? The news organization that made the initial recording and then posted it publicly all over the internet for anyone to watch and share and someone subsequently took it, modified, and put it up as a joke/criticism? Hm, that's not copyright infringement.

      libel

      She is a public figure, as such libel or slander pretty much doesn't apply except in extreme cases where you can prove actual malice and intent to deceive. Joke videos don't even budge the needle. To make it even worse, she's a member of the GOVERNMENT. That takes it to a whole new level to even begin to approach being illegal, because the First Amendment was pretty much designed to protect people in exactly this case, criticizing or mocking the government. The government isn't allowed to get offended and punish it's citizens for it.

      infringement of the subject’s first amendment rights

      This has to be the most laughable of them all. How is Nancy Pelosi's right to free speech being infringed by this video? It's not stopping her from continuing to speak and it's not coming from the government (which is where the First Amendment would apply, not a private company kicking her off their platform).

      I'm sorry but I just can't take that blog seriously when it's full of so many factual errors or deliberate lies. The only "illusion" on that blog is that he says he knows what he is talking about.

      Try again Richard.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Jun 2019 @ 9:04am

      Richard's comment is so wrong redux

      Also of note, I started perusing that site's articles, going all the way back to its inception, and imagine my entire lack of surprise to find that even back when it was founded in 2012, one of the very first articles was a grudge article against Techdirt. And they only continued from then on. Gee, it's almost like this guy has a grudge against Mike.

      If your only "proof" that TD is wrong is a fluff blog that doesn't understand what he's talking about or deliberately misleads his readers because of a grudge, then I'm sorry but you'll have to do a lot better than that to actually convince anyone that what you say isn't a load of BS.

      Try again Richard.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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