11 Reasons Why a Small Claims Bill Should Pass | Reason Three: Angela — Illustrator

Angela is an illustrator based in Atlanta, Georgia. She works in watercolor, ink and colored pencil. She published her illustrations and paintings in an instructional book titled Angelic Visions [North Light Books, © 2011], available on Amazon.com and in bookstores.

Her registered illustrations in Angelic Visions were recreated and reproduced as prints and other decorative pieces without permission by another artist. The reproductions have been sold on the infringer’s website and direct sales to the public as a vendor (authorized by event management and paid for a vendor’s booth) at Renaissance Fairs throughout Texas. This infringer has also copied other artists’ works and sold unauthorized reproductions.

Angela contacted the infringer directly herself and told her to stop selling her copyrighted work. The infringer agreed and removed the work from her website, but covertly continued to sell the unauthorized work in person at the fairs. The artist contacted her publisher, who told Angela they would send a cease & desist notice to the infringer but they would not be able to help with any further litigation, which Angela wanted to pursue. The publisher told Angela they would not sue the infringer, nor would they participate in her legal action if she led suit, as this was beyond their capabilities.

If Angela would have been able to seek legal recourse against the infringer, she would have demanded take-down of the unauthorized images from the infringer’s website, as well as an order to cease selling unauthorized prints of her work and to destroy all unauthorized prints the infringer currently has on hand. Angela would have asked for actual damages including a licensing fee for usage on items already sold and pro ts from sales made; totaling $30,000, possibly more upon discovery of profits from sales.

“I paid to copyright my work, and it feels pointless. I don’t want to pay into our copyright system if it won’t protect me. What’s the point?” – Angela

This blog tells the story of countless U.S. creators, who currently have rights but no remedies when it comes to protecting their works. With federal court being both complex and expensive, most creators don’t have the means to defend their creations from a legal perspective. That’s why they need the CASE Act, legislation that calls for the establishment of a small claims tribunal within the U.S. Copyright Office. Learn more here about the CASE Act, and how it would benefit creators across the country!

We urge you to contact your congressman/woman, and tell them why this bill is so important. Your support will give small creators the tools to protect their work.

Photo Credit: jacoblund/iStock/thinkstock

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