Moments ago I opened an e-mail from AIPLA regarding the Copyright Office’s recent report that recommends a small claims proceeding be established within the Copyright Office to handle disputes of up to $30,000. Wondering exactly how a small claims process for copyrights could be Constitutional in light of the 7th Amendment to the United States Constitution I clicked on the link to access the full report. I was taken to the Copyright Office website, which displays a notice saying that since the government is shutdown the Copyright Office website is not available. Indeed, copyright.gov now redirects to copyright.gov/eco/notice_special.html.
Really? This action seems purely intended to punish the people for the inability of Democrats and Republicans to come together and accomplish even seemingly simple tasks. Even the White House did not delete the contents of its website and blame it on the government shutdown. So why would the Copyright Office take such a ridiculous and punitive measure?
Here is what the copyright Office website says as of 12:10pm on Tuesday, October 1, 2013.
During the general government shutdown that began October 1, 2013, the United States Patent and Trademark Office will remain open, using prior year reserve fee collections to operate as usual for approximately four weeks. We continue to assess our fee collections compared to our operating requirements to determine how long we will be able to operate in this capacity during a general government shutdown. We will provide an update as more definitive information becomes available.
Should we exhaust these reserve funds before the general government shutdown comes to an end, USPTO would shut down at that time, although a very small staff would continue to work to accept new applications and maintain IT infrastructure, among other functions. (Should it become necessary for USPTO to shut down, details of the agency’s plan for an orderly shutdown are available on page 78 of the United States Department of Commerce’s shutdown plan, available here.)
Any new or updated public information related to USPTO operations during the government shutdown will be placed on this page.
So if the USPTO can keep its website full of publicly available, free information up during a government shutdown why did the Copyright Office need to remove everything from its website and pretend that this is required by a government shutdown? For crying out loud they have the funds to keep the website live on the Internet and post this ridiculous notice.
This is the exact type of strong arm scare tactics used with the sequester, where the government engaged in fear mongering and then set out to make the cuts appear draconian in the eyes of the public to punish us so we would pressure Congress (i.e., Republicans) to relent.
We deserve better government than this.