David’s Sling: How to Give Copyright Owners a Practical Way to Pursue Small Claims

Abstract

It is notoriously difficult for copyright owners to bring small infringement claims. Just finding an attorney willing to take the case can be a challenge. Then there is the high cost of litigating in United States District Court—the only court with jurisdiction. For many, the obstacles are so daunting that they do not even try. The U.S. Congress has recognized the problem and asked the Copyright Office to study it. Finding a solution is far more complex than one might first assume. There are constitutional issues, such as the right to a jury trial and the separation of powers. Questions of law and procedure also arise. Competing interests must be balanced; any change in the system will help some and hurt others. And the discussion is taking place in an ever-evolving media environment in which it is easier than ever to make and publish copies. This Comment examines some of the options that have been suggested, including the Copyright Office’s proposal for a voluntary alternative system for the adjudication of small copyright claims. This Comment proposes that Congress instead establish a mandatory alternative system by creating an administrative agency to regulate such claims.

62-2-4
By uclalaw