louis-velazquez-XWW746i6WoM-unsplashFinding a balance between accused and accuser in cases of intellectual property law has been one trick the U. S. legal system has yet to get quite right, although lawmakers and administrators continue the endeavor to find that elusive point that serves all involved equally. Too far one way, and you're stifling the ability of rightsholders to take action to protect their IP; too far the other and you're opening the floodgates for cases brought before the court, including those lacking any real validity. But a fear of making things worse has never stopped the United States government before, and it certainly won't be deterred in this instance.

The latest proposal set forth to try and further the cause of copyright is the introduction of what would be a "copyright small claims court" meant to adjudicate lesser cases of infringement. It's not a new idea so much as an old one brought again to the fore, and one that is stirring its share of controversy regardless of its vintage. The proponents of the CASE Act press the case that the existing system makes it too difficult for take actual action against infringement despite the legal rights afforded them. The reasons given are certainly familiar to anyone with a passing knowledge of our court system: the time and expense to file a claim and pursue a case in federal court puts many a person off of trying to defend their IP.

Those opposing the bill point out what might be the unintended consequences of the new measures, assuming that legislators are in fact missing loopholes rather than simply moving past them: the lower barrier to legal action will help the average claimant, sure, but it could serve to supercharge the issue of copyright trolls that is already an issue in our current, more difficult system. Techdirt also points out that the new rules would eliminate the requirement that copyright holders register their work with the U.S. Copyright Office, which would seem to further still the suggestion that the new "courts" would be swamped with cases looking to take advantage of the lessened restrictions, with every implication that term suggests.

Another mark in the opposing column is the furtherance of copyright as a cudgel, with various bad actors using the takedown systems in place around the internet's content forums as a tool to stifle material they don't like, regardless of the validity of the claim itself. With a tool to bring further legal action, these parties would be gifted a cannon to go along with their hammer in their fight against those trying to play by the rules, or whatever weapon you might prefer as metaphor. To go along with the assumption of guilt that is part an parcel of the reporting systems in place, the average YouTuber might find themselves up against legal expenses if they hope to defend the case in court, or on the hook for a settlement if they're hoping to minimize their loss.

In short, what might seem a good idea on its face reveals horrors under a mask, a system designed to help causing more harm than good. Welcome to the internet in the 21st century.

Join for Free Business Risk Assessment