Fight for the Future has learned that three controversial changes to copyright law: the CASE Act, Felony Streaming Act, and Trademark Modernization Act are in fact included in the must-pass omnibus spending bill lawmakers will vote on later today (bill text here). Protocol first reported on the potential inclusion of these provisions in the package earlier this month. The CASE Act would threaten ordinary Internet users with up to $30,000 in fines for engaging in everyday activity such as downloading an image and re-uploading it.
More than 20,000 people had called on House and Senate leadership to remove these dangerous and unnecessary provisions from the must-pass bill as part of a campaign launched by digital rights group Fight for the Future, known for their role in the massive ‘Internet Blackout’ protests that defeated SOPA/PIPA.
Fight for the Future Deputy Director Evan Greer (she/her) issued the following statement:
This is atrocious. We’re facing a massive eviction crisis and millions are unemployed due to the pandemic, but Congressional leaders could only muster $600 stimulus checks for COVID relief, but managed to cram in handouts for content companies like Disney? The CASE Act is a terribly written law that will threaten ordinary Internet users with huge fines for everyday online activity. It’s absurd that lawmakers included these provisions in a must-pass spending bill.
We’ve seen time and time again that changes to copyright law have profound implications for online freedom of expression and human rights. These types of decisions should never be made in closed-door negotiations between politicians and industry or rushed through as part of some must-pass spending package. Artists and musicians especially are suffering immensely during the pandemic. Congress should be working quickly to provide immediate relief, not cramming controversial, poison-pill legislation into budget bills to appease special interests. We call on House and Senate leadership to remove the copyright provisions from the Continuing Resolution and move them through regular order so we can have transparent and open debate about the right balance. DMCA abuse and frivolous copyright takedowns are already a huge problem for the next generation of artists and creators, streamers, gamers, and activists. Lawmakers should be working to address these issues and create a fair system that protects human rights and ensures artists are fairly compensated instead of ramming through poorly crafted legislation that could punish ordinary Internet users for engaging in everyday activities like sharing memes and downloading images online."