US Authors Guild Joins With AAP and Copyright Alliance on CASE Act

“On last Wednesday (May 1), the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2019 (called the CASE Act) was introduced on the floors of the US House by Representatives Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York) and Doug Collins (R-Georgia) as HR 2426; and in the Senate by John Kennedy (R-Louisiana), Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) as S 1273….

“The CASE Act would create a streamlined, much less formal process than currently exists in federal court,” according to the [Authors Guild] staff’s messaging. “The parties would not need to hire attorneys and all proceedings would be conducted remotely, drastically reducing the cost. A three-‘judge’ tribunal within the Copyright Office would hear small copyright cases. … The process would also be entirely optional for both parties.” …

There is disagreement about the bill, albeit respectful, coming from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the nonprofit that works to defend civil liberties issues as they pertain to the digital space. “Though it’s well-intentioned,” a letter from April 23 on the subject from the EFF reads, “this bill would re-ignite the nationwide problem of copyright trolling, just as the federal courts are beginning to address this abusive practice.” 

The foundation’s position is that the CASE Act makes it easier, not harder, for copyright trolls to operate, and that it raises potential threats to the privacy of “home and business Internet subscribers.”

The EFF writes, “We recognize that federal litigation can be expensive, making the pursuit of many small-dollar-value claims impractical for copyright holders. But we believe that much of that expense results from procedures that promote fairness, established and refined through decades of use. Creating a new, parallel system that allows copyright holders to dispense with those procedures invites abuse, especially given the Copyright Office’s institutional bias.” …”

Controlled Digital Lending Is Neither Controlled nor Legal – The Authors Guild

” “Controlled Digital Lending” or “CDL” is a recently invented legal theory that allows libraries to justify the scanning (or obtaining of scans) of print books and e-lending those digital copies to users without obtaining authorization from the copyright owners. A position statement on CDL, along with an accompanying white paper, was issued this past October by legal scholars, the culmination of several academic meetings on the subject. The statement and paper argue that it is fair use for libraries to scan or obtain scans of physical books that they own and loan those books through e-lending technologies, provided they apply certain restrictions akin to physical library loans, such as lending only one copy (either the digital copy or the physical copy) at a time and only for a defined loan period.

A couple dozen organizations, including Internet Archive, as well as a number of academics and academic librarians, are listed as signing the position statement. Several major library systems, including the California State University libraries and the Boston and San Francisco public libraries, are signatories and apparently already rely on CDL to e-lend scanned copies of books….”

Authors Guild Attacks Libraries For Lending Digital Books | Techdirt

It’s been a few years since we last had to write about the Authors Guild — a group that ostensibly represents authors’ interests, but really acts more like a front group for publishers’ interests (often in opposition to the actual interests of authors). As you may recall, the Authors Guild spent tons of the money authors gave it for dues on suing libraries. Specifically it sued and lost against Hathitrust (a collection of libraries which were scanning books to make a searchable index), and then had the same result with Google and its book scanning project. In both cases, the courts deemed such scanning and indexing as fair use — a transformative use of the work.

Apparently, unable to comprehend that maybe it shouldn’t attack libraries, the Authors Guild is at it again, threatening the Internet Archive and other libraries for daring to start a carefully designed program to lend out copies of some of their scanned works. The system, called Controlled Digital Lending was put together by a bunch of libraries and the Internet Archive to lay out a system that they believe is clearly covered by fair use, by which digital scans of certain books could be made available on loan like any other library book. The whole setup of the Controlled Digital Lending system is carefully laid out and designed to mimic traditional library lending….”