11 Reasons Why a Small Claims Bill Should Pass | Reason Four: Rob – Commercial Photographer

Rob is a freelance professional photographer in San Francisco who was hired by an online visitors’ magazine to create a still life image to illustrate an article on local bars and pubs. A competing website lifted Rob’s photograph to promote their magazine without permission or compensation. Rob’s client was upset that the image they had commissioned was used by their competitor and accused Rob of selling his image to the competition without authorization. Though Rob tried to explain that the image was stolen, his client, nevertheless, stopped working with Rob out of concern that he was untrustworthy.

Rob attempted numerous times to contact the infringing party by phone in order to be paid for the unauthorized usage and to demand that the infringing company remove the image from their website. He eventually sent the infringing company an invoice for the usage along with a demand letter telling the company to take the image down.

After several months, Rob was successful in reaching someone from the infringing company by phone, who subsequently refused to acknowledge their infringement–insisting that they hadn’t infringed because they had simply lifted the image from Google Images. The infringing company refused to pay for the unauthorized usage and did not return Rob’s subsequent calls. They did eventually remove the image from their website, however, due to this infringement, Rob was never hired by his client again.

Rob considered suing the infringer in Federal Court (his only recourse) but concluded it was too expensive to do so. He feels that if there was a Small Claims option available, he would have been able to not only enforce his copyright, but it would have also been useful in retaining his long-standing client.

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: scyther5/iStock/thinkstock

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