Anti-meme law could punish image sharers with massive fines

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Meme law

Photo: ActionNetwork.org

Memes are a core part of online life, providing us with an internationally understood means of visual conversation allowing folks to make light of the absurdity of today’s world with co-opted images taken from popular media.

Which, of course, means that lawmakers want to shut it down. A new bi-partisan bill currently working its way through Congress could do exactly that. It threatens seriously big fines for anyone who shares protected material online.

The copyright-related bill would hit people who share protected material online with fines of $15,000 per work infringed.

The “Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2019” will create a small claims board within the Copyright Office. This will make it easier for copyright owners to sue for copyright infringement or misrepresentation.

Don’t be meme

A petition opposing the CASE Act paints a terrifying picture:

“Have you ever shared a meme that you didn’t make? Or downloaded a photo you saw on social media? If Congress has its way you could soon get slapped with a $15,000 fine by copyright trolls – with no chance of appeal – just for doing normal stuff on the internet.

These trolls buy up copyrights with the sole intent of sending out mass threats and lawsuits to harvest settlements. Now, a dangerous new bill called the Copyright Alternative in Small Claims Enforcement Act is sailing through Congress to make it easier for everyone from trolls to Hollywood producers to sue you.”

The law is being presented as a way to settle small scale disputes without putting creators through costly federal litigation. That sounds like a good thing in theory, but the potential implications for meme-loving users sound downright terrifying. Especially if the law winds up being abused without recourse from users.

The CASE Act is currently waiting for a vote before the Senate.

Source: The American Mirror