Masnick Calls CASE a Big Media Bill?

From the Techdirt Sycophants Department

In his post of May 28, Mike Masnick dutifully opened his hymnal and joined the chorus in a rendition of “How to Criticize the CASE Act,” lending his bel canto to the refrain that the new law would create a “copyright trolling court.”  As explained here and here, this is an inscrutable criticism because the Copyright Claims Board will actually be a lousy venue for copyright trolls—principally because it is a voluntary resolution option.  But if you don’t believe me about that, Mike’s further implication that CASE is a Big Media proposal and the product of “soft corruption,” is so transparently illogical that you may dismiss the allegation by applying a modicum of common sense.

Wanting readers to believe he speaks truth to power, Mike employs a little misdirection with the following innuendo about two of the bill’s lead sponsors:

“We should note, that the House bill is sponsored by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, along with Jerry Nadler. You may recall that those two Congressman were recently seen hosting a giant $5k per ticket fundraiser at the Recording Industry’s biggest party of the year, the Grammys. And, right afterwards, they suddenly introduce a bill that will help enable more copyright trolling? Welcome to the world of soft corruption.”

Yes, that’s what happened.  The CASE Act was drafted on the back of a napkin at the Grammys party. (Stand by for Mike to accuse me of straw man because he did not literally say this.)

In Reality Land, I suppose we can ignore the fact that a small claim copyright proposal has been floating around Capitol Hill longer than Rep. Jeffries has been a Member of Congress—and, for that matter, longer than the bill’s other main sponsor Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia.  But I guess Collins wasn’t at the Grammys and so doesn’t fit Masnick’s conspiratorial narrative?  We might also ignore the fact that CASE has solid bi-partisan support, even from Silicon Valley Rep. Zoe Lofgren, and that the only effective (albeit unreasonable) opposition in the last two or so years has come from the Internet Association and the Computer and Communications Industry Association.  But what readers should not ignore is their own basic ability to reason, which ought to sound something like this …


Mike’s implication that Jeffries and Nadler partied with the RIAA and “suddenly” introduced a bill is just wrong as a matter of public record, but even if nobody wants to bother looking that up, you might then ask what possible interest major record labels or movie studios or any other Big Media companies have in creating a voluntary, small-claim, alternative-dispute provision for copyright infringement?  As Mike himself is very fond of reminding people, these are powerful corporate entities with high-octane attorneys on staff.  There is nothing in the CASE Act for these companies.

I know it’s hard to fathom, but the CASE Act is a rare example of bi-partisan legislation designed for regular people—middle-class creators who have almost no affordable path to remedy unlicensed uses of their works.  And thanks in no small part to tech-evangelists like Techdirt, online infringement is both rampant and misconceived as acceptable, even by commercial users who ought to know better. 

Mike should go back through all the articles and public statements he’s ever made on the theme that he “supports creators” but wants “balanced copyright” and feel obliged to eat every one of those words.  CASE is about balancing copyright.  It proposes to level the playing field for little guys who are getting clobbered by the policies and practices of the tech giants, which only makes Mike’s implication that it’s a Big Media bill all the more offensive.  I know attorneys who think CASE might not work, which is at least thoughtful criticism based on its actual mechanisms, but misrepresenting the Copyright Claims Board as a processing center for invalid damage awards is just mean-spirited considering the kind of people it is designed to help.

At this point, it would be grand if Mike and the legal pundits who write the songbooks from which he so often sings would just admit they don’t like copyright and will vigorously oppose any kind of enforcement no matter what.  That would at least be honest.  Still obnoxious, but not patently absurd.

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