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Copyright Office Seeks Comments on Whether Current Legal System Hinders the Pursuit of Small Copyright Claims

Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Remedies for Small Copyright Claims, 76 Fed. Reg. 66758 (proposed Oct. 27, 2011) ("Notice") The U.S. Copyright Office is studying whether the current legal system prevents copyright owners from pursuing claims involving the infringement of works of relatively small economic value. The Copyright Office seeks comments on the issue, which must be received by January 16, 2012. Copyright litigation typically involves a significant investment of time and money. The cost of copyright litigation can be prohibitive for some copyright owners because, unlike the state court system, there is no equivalent "small claims" process in federal court. While plaintiffs can represent themselves in federal court, they often need a lawyer to assist them with the complicated procedural and substantive legal issues involved in litigating a copyright infringement claim. While the Copyright Act contains provisions for awards of attorney's fees, costs, and statutory damages, such awards are not always available. In 2006, the House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property held a hearing on the problems faced by owners of small copyright claims. See Remedies for Small Copyright Claims: Hearing Before the Subcomm. on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property of the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 109th Cong. (2006). Subsequently, Rep. Lamar Smith, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, asked the Copyright Office to study the issue and to provide specific recommendations for changes that would "enable all copyright owners to more fully realize the promise of exclusive rights enshrined in our Constitution." Notice at 66759. Accordingly, the Copyright Office has requested comments on the issue and suggestions for potential alternatives, including the benefits and risks of those alternatives. DisclaimerThis document and any discussions set forth herein are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice, which has to be addressed to particular facts and circumstances involved in any given situation. Review or use of the document and any discussions does not create an attorney-client relationship with the author or publisher. To the extent that this document may contain suggested provisions, they will require modification to suit a particular transaction, jurisdiction or situation. Please consult with an attorney with the appropriate level of experience if you have any questions. Any tax information contained in the document or discussions is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, for purposes of avoiding penalties imposed under the United States Internal Revenue Code. Any opinions expressed are those of the author. The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. and its affiliated entities do not take responsibility for the content in this document or discussions and do not make any representation or warranty as to their completeness or accuracy.©2014 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All rights reserved. Bloomberg Law Reports ® is a registered trademark and service mark of The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc.

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