20 Dec One Senator Is Holding Up Access to Justice for Creators
Overall, 2019 was a hopeful year for creators and copyright holders. The CASE Act was introduced into both the House and Senate, sailed through Judiciary Committee hearings in both legislative bodies, and in October, was passed overwhelmingly by the House, 410 to 6. However, the Senate version of the bill, S. 1273, hit a roadblock. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon put a hold on the bill in November, and talks to resolve his concerns have stalled.
Stakeholders supporting the bill – representatives from visual artist associations (including the Graphic Artists Guild), the IP division of the American Bar Association, creators’ organizations, such as the Authors Guild and the Copyright Alliance – met repeatedly with Wyden’s staff to negotiate on the terms of the bill. However, as Keith Kupferschmid of the Copyright Alliance reported in Billboard, the negotiations faltered as Wyden’s staff kept “moving the goalposts.” It’s a situation that Kupferschmid described as a “hostage situation,” with legislation indefinitely held up despite best efforts on the part of creators to breach the stalemate.
Currently, creators are hoping to move Wyden’s office to a more productive position by coordinating a #justone campaign on social media. Creators and copyright holders are encouraged to post selfies, holding up the index finger, with the #justone hashtag and exhorting people to call Wyden’s office at 202-224-5244 or email him at email@example.com. Portland-area creators have also been attending local town hall meetings with the Senator to question him on his hold on the bill.
This isn’t the first time Wyden has opposed copyright legislation which would benefit small creators. In 2018, Senator Wyden opposed the Music Modernization Act (MMA) after it passed the House and was introduced into the Senate. MMA had wide bipartisan support and was strongly supported by a large coalition of musicians, songwriters, music publishers, and other stakeholders. After Wyden introduced a competing bill that conflicted with portions of the MMA, stakeholders launched a public campaign to question Wyden’s support of musicians. Wyden eventually dropped his opposition to MMA.
How You Can Help
Join the social media campaign. Take your selfie, and post it on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook with the message:
“#JustOne senator is standing in the way of the #CASEAct: @RonWyden. Call his office at 202-224-5244 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org to urge him to lift his hold on the bill and show his support for creators like me. #MySkillsPayBills”
You can also send your selfie to email@example.com, and we’ll post it as well. Be sure to include your name (if you would like it to be mentioned) and/or your professional discipline. We’re tagging our posts with the disciplines of each creator to showcase the wide range of creators who will benefit from the bill.
About the CASE Act
The CASE Act would establish an optional, affordable small claims tribunal that copyright holders can use to bring an infringement claim, and copyright users can use to assert their permissible use of copyrighted work. If you’re unfamiliar with the bill, read our primer on The CASE Act, and our step-by-step on how the CASE Act will work to bring yourself up to speed.