Fix statutory damage rules to make them more reasonable.

Current law allows copyright owners to ask for monetary compensation for infringement unmoored from the harm infringement causes. Copyright owners can demand awards of up to $150,000 per work infringed. The specter of such crippling liability can chill even non-infringing and socially beneficial acts of authorship, dissemination, archiving, and curation. Damage awards should be reformed to ensure that authors, publishers, libraries, and others that act in good faith reliance on copyright’s limits can make works available without fear.

Ensure that copyright owners cannot use copyright remedies to censor works that the public has an interest in seeing or hearing.

Courts have the power to halt infringing uses of copyrighted works using injunctions. While this power is essential to copyright’s effectiveness, it can also silence works the public has an interest in seeing disseminated. When a court decides whether to issue such an injunction—especially a preliminary injunction granted before a copyright owner has proven infringement—the law should require the court to consider the public interest in disseminating the work.

Establish a small claims process so that authors can vindicate our rights without expensive litigation.

Many authors are unable to enforce their copyrights because of the very considerable expense of litigation today. In addition, many accused of infringement—among them, authors, libraries, and innovators—are unable to vindicate their rights to create and disseminate works out of the fear of financial ruin. Where alleged infringements are small in scale, all parties would benefit from a simplified and specialized legal process that can handle a greater volume of cases at a lower cost.

Return to the principles.