Dear Senators Harris and Feinstein,
We write to you as constituents, independent creators and small business owners who seek a viable path to pursue a right afforded to us by the Constitution of this country: copyright.
It has been said that a right without a remedy isn’t really a right. This saying precisely describes our experience with copyright infringement in the modern age.
Currently our judicial system does not offer a reasonable litigation option for small business owners who feel their copyright has been infringed. We cannot risk bringing a case to Federal Court because of the high cost of participation, not to mention the real threat of bankruptcy should we lose the case. And so today, when infringement occurs, we continue to lose both revenue and reputation. Our hands are tied.
We strongly believe the answer is The CASE Act, which would allow these cases to be tried on a fair and level playing field, in small claims court.
This is not about the occasional grandmother who sells a needlepoint on Etsy that she made using a copyrighted image she took from the internet. This is not about copyright trolls, who number far less than honest, hardworking creatives and who, given the guidelines currently proposed, would quickly find the Small Claims system to be a hindrance to their singular focus on financial gains. This is about a significant demographic of working class citizens who have long struggled to protect what they have made, and who are simply asking for an affordable and fair arena in which to submit their claims to a knowledgeable third party for a final verdict.
The inability to defend against infringement takes something we produce as a custom product for a paying client and renders it free without consequences to any other company who chooses to uses it. It is painful to explain to a client that while we own the copyright to the work we created specifically for their brand, in practice we have no way to pursue unauthorized use of that work. That devalues our business, our client’s business and our reputations. Multiply that by the hundreds of thousands of photographers, illustrators, authors and many other creators in business today and you see that this has a significant cumulative impact.
Our work is more widely used today than ever before, and it is in part through this work that larger companies grow their brands and gain new business. We provide a valuable service to others farther up the economical food chain and yet we struggle to protect and control the products that we create.
This bill finally provides small business people with a real opportunity to seek recompense for infringements of their creative works. It is not a pre-determined declaration of liability, which means we may win some cases and we may lose some. That is how the justice system operates and it is that system in which we hope to participate.
We are hard-working people who are living the American Dream: doing what we love while we contribute to society, each in our own creative way. Help us to continue to do so. We firmly believe The CASE Act is our best shot at ensuring that artists for the first time will be full participants in the copyright marketplace.
We respectfully ask for your support of this bill, which provides a much needed solution to a real world problem we face every day.
Jenna Close, Director of Photography at Buck the Cubicle, Oceanside, CA 92054