11 Reasons Why a Small Claims Bill Should Pass | Reason Ten: Leif – Documentary Photographer

wildlife photographer

Leif had a successful 45-year career as a documentary photographer. After a disabling accident, he is now dependent upon income received from licensing the work in his photography archive, but this has become extremely difficult due to online piracy. In fact, Leif estimates that his income from the licensing of images in his archive has decreased by over 90% in the past decade due to widespread pirating of his images.

One of his photographs, which was screen grabbed from his website, has been the subject of more than 1,000 infringements. This image is no longer a viable source of income for his business, but now it is for many infringers. It is being advertised for free downloads, used for wallpaper, and licensed for a fee among other infringing uses. Leif reports that those who have benefited from the theft of his images include individual bloggers, large and small companies, and even the U.S. government.

Leif submits DMCA takedown notices for infringements which are often successful, but he does not have the time to keep up with the overwhelming number of online infringements. Usually, the damage has already been done. Takedown notices do not account for the income Leif has already lost from the infringements.

Leif knows he can go to federal court to pursue claims for lost revenue, but he feels that it is a daunting task. For most of his infringements, pursuing the claim is a non-starter after comparing the enormous cost of going to court to the damages he may recover.

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: ueuaphoto/iStock/thinkstock

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