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New bill would create 'small claims' copyright options

A lot of artists worry that their work will get stolen when they post it online. Not only do they worry that consumers will take the work for free, but they also worry that major corporations will simply steal their work and profit off of it, assuming that the artists will not have the money, time or knowledge to go after them in court.

A new bill is moving through the system right now. While it does have its critics, it would attempt to solve the problem by making what would essentially be a small claims court for copyright issues. This would give artists a way to seek compensation on a smaller scale that may make it possible for some of them.

The act, which has not yet passed into law, is called the CASE Act. That stands for the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act.

The problem with the act, though, is that critics claim abuse would be far too easy and far too common. They also think that it may give too much legal power to the Copyright Office. For instance, in the past, the courts have had say over fair use issues and First Amendment rights. Would creating this small claims process give those powers to Copyright Office staffers, and could they then set precedents that not everyone would agree with?

As you can see, this is a complex and often controversial situation. It is very important for all involved, from independent artists to owners of multibillion-dollar companies, to know what rights they have, what options they have and how legal changes would impact these areas.

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