The House Judiciary Committee is making progress on its plans to pursue a multi-part copyright reform proposal that includes a provision to enact a permanent small claims copyright court. As previously reported, the small claims component is designed to provide photographers and other individual creators plagued by copyright infringements with a viable, cost effective alternative to the burdensome and prohibitively expensive federal court litigation route.
As promised by Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and senior Democrat John Conyers (D-MI), the House Judiciary Committee is drafting a small claims proposal as part of an overall bill to modernize the Copyright Office. It is expected that the Committee will unveil its legislative package sometime after the August recess. In addition, Representatives Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Judy Chu (D-CA) who introduced their own individual small claims bills in the last Congress, are revising their old bills and are planning to introduce their own revised bills in September. Ultimately, Chairman Goodlatte will determine the text of the legislative package that he will put before the Committee for its consideration.
As these legislative drafting efforts have moved forward, ASMP has taken the lead in drafting specific, detailed statutory suggestions that will help better ensure the efficacy of the proposal and which they and other visual artists groups hope will be included in any of the forthcoming bills. With that goal in mind, ASMP and others have escalated their lobbying efforts. On July 20th, Mike Klipper and I, along with representatives of several other visual artist organizations visited several House offices to underscore both their overall support for small claims legislation and the series of aforementioned suggested amendments.
Over the next several weeks, ASMP and its colleagues will engage in the various activities typically associated with such a legislative effort such as making additional Hill visits, drafting briefing papers, coordinating its efforts with other small claim proponents (e.g. authors and songwriters) and expanding its grassroots legislative endeavors. We will keep you posted as development warrant.