Marie is an architecture photographer who gets a large portion of her income from photographing homes and licensing images to the home’s seller for uses related to the sale. She recently performed such a job for a client in Idaho. Marie later found out that the real estate company her client worked with used one of her photos several times for the purpose of promoting the business. She found the advertisement for the real estate company featuring her work on the back cover of a magazine and on the back cover of the program for a music festival. Marie assumes there are other infringing uses she did not happen upon.
Marie contacted the owner of the real estate company directly to retrieve payment for the infringing uses. She sent an invoice with her standard licensing fee. The infringer completely refused to pay anything to Marie and was adamant that the use was not an infringement because the images were provided by the photographer’s client who paid for the job. The owner of the real estate company even claimed that this was their “standard practice”.
A cease and desist letter was sent to the offender from Marie’s photographic association on her behalf to which she received no reply. She followed up with the infringer several more times to be either ignored or sent extremely offensive responses. When asked if she would like to sue the offender, Marie responded, “I would like to but feel that it is not an option and will not nd an attorney to take on the case for such a small amount of money.” Marie estimated the licensing fee of the infringing uses she knew about to be under $1,000.
Marie reports that all she wants is for the offender to admit wrongdoing, pay the invoice, and change her standard practice. She believes her requests were disregarded because the infringer knew Marie could not make her pay if she refused – of course Marie was not going to file a federal lawsuit over a $1,000 licensing fee.
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: DragonImages/iStock/thinkstock