Small Copyright Claims, the Future of Hemp, and other legal news to ponder from Cape Law Firm
The newly-created Copyright Small Claims Court
The internet is really efficient at enabling copyright infringement. Images, text, and videos can easily be copied, downloaded and used by would-be infringers with a few mouse clicks. In last year’s Covid relief bill, Congress provided copyright owners an alternative to federal court litigation to protect copyrights – the Copyright Claims Board. Essentially, the new CCB is a small claims court for copyright infringement. The new forum will be less formal than federal litigation by limiting discovery, excluding most experts, and providing a panel of 3 attorneys to hear disputes instead of juries. Damage awards are capped, ranging from $7,500 per work up to a total award of no more than $30,000. Of course Parties are allowed to opt out of the CCB process, but for many smaller cases, we would expect it be pretty useful for resolving disputes.
Take-Aways from Show-Me Hemp Association’s First Annual Conference
I started the week at Show-Me Hemp Association’s first annual conference in Jefferson City, Missouri. Wow! What a difference a couple of growing seasons makes. There were several very informative presentations from growers, processors, buyers, plant breeders, and other professionals in the hemp industry. Here is my short list of the top take-aways from the conference:
- Not all hemp needs to be tested for THC – Current law and regulations treat all hemp as if it could be turned into the THC-drug-version of cannabis and requires extensive sampling and testing. But hemp has several uses that are not consumable, especially hemp grown for fiber. The burden of sampling and testing fiber-type hemp needlessly increases work and costs to the material and puts it at a competitive disadvantage to other fibers (cotton, fiberglass, etc.). Legislation must adapt to reflect the realities of hemp uses.
- Reliable seed is hard to come by – Unlike other crops with decades of commercial development, hemp is just getting started. This means that there is a severe lack of reliable, commercially available hemp genetics. Fortunately there are many efforts underway to identify and produce hemp varieties with the characteristics growers and the market are looking for.
- Planning is key – Whether producing or processing, success with hemp requires careful planning. It is very important to focus on the end-use market and establish relationships with the folks that will be buying and using the products. Pay careful attention to your costs of production and don’t put in more than you can afford to lose.
- Hemp is like other crops, but it is different – Yes, growing hemp is basically like growing other crops, but it doesn’t fit precisely into the systems built for commodities. Planting, pest control, irrigation, and harvesting hemp all come with unique challenges that aren’t immediately solved with existing commodity technologies.
- Research, Research, Research – There is a ton of research underway in the hemp space. But we need more, especially for food uses. Hemp research data is sorely needed to obtain approval of the Food & Drug Administration for hemp in food additives, dietary supplements, and drugs under the Food Drug & Cosmetics Act. Until there is more data, hemp will have to wait for wide regulatory approval for use in food and drug products.
Cape Law Firm’s Frequently (or Randomly) Asked Questions
“Can I cancel a farm lease?”
Yes – But, many States give farm leases special treatment and have specific laws that govern how and when a farm lease may be terminated. For example, in Iowa a farm lease will automatically renew for another crop season unless a written notice to terminate is delivered to the other party on or before September 1. Another example is Arkansas – the owner of a farm leased under an oral agreement must send a written termination notice to the tenant by certified mail on or before June 30. Both landlords and tenants would be well served to check for specific State laws addressing farm leases when entering or ending the lease.