Monday, congress leaders unveiled their massive spending spree and coronavirus, including a handful of controversial copyright measures that civil liberties activists fear could punish Internet users for everyday online behavior. Congress is expected to vote on the package as early as Monday.
Congress’s $ 2.3 billion spending and assistance package contains controversial measures previously introduced as the CASE Act, the Trademark Modernization Act and a proposal for criminal current – anything that significantly extends the rights and powers of intellectual property owners.
The most controversial issue is that the CASE Act will create a quasi-judicial tribunal of “copyright holders” that will work to resolve infringement claims. As outlined in the bill, copyright holders can be awarded up to $ 30,000 if they share their creative work online.
Proponents of the CASE law, such as the Copyright Alliance, argue that the bill would make it easier for independent artists to file copyright claims without having to endure the lengthy and costly federal court process. However, critics of the bill, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Fight for the Future, argue that the CASE Act can fine ordinary Internet users for engaging in daily online behavior such as sharing memes.
‘The CASE Act is a terrible written law that will threaten ordinary internet users with large fines for daily online activities. It is absurd that lawmakers have included these provisions in an essential spending bill, ‘Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, said in a statement on Monday. “We are facing a massive eviction crisis and millions are unemployed due to the pandemic, but Congress leaders were only able to raise $ 600 stimulus tests for COVID relief, but managed to pack handouts for content companies like Disney?”
The $ 1 million package also includes a provision written by Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), which enables the Department of Justice to charge copyright infringement companies if they intentionally stream copyrighted material online. The Trademark Modernization Act would allow third parties to request the Patent Office to reject trademark applications in an attempt to combat “trademark trolls” that make money from trademarks they never intended to use.
As congressional leaders have been working for the past few weeks to finalize this package, a coalition of technology trading groups and advocacy organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Internet Association have urged lawmakers to refuse to include these measures.
These groups claim that the proposals ‘could have negative consequences for small and medium-sized enterprises, creators, libraries and their patrons, students, teachers, educational institutions, religious institutions, communities of supporters, internet users and free expression’, in a letter first reported by Protocol earlier this month.