CASE Act Promises Long-Overdue Access to Justice for Individuals and Small Businesses in the Arts
Jenna Close is a freelance commercial photographer and owner of a small business that licenses still images and videos to both domestic and international clients. She and her partner work 60-80 hours a week booking work, shooting, billing, accounting, marketing, and continuing to develop and maintain their skills. Jenna’s images are widely infringed online. She’s found exact reproductions of her work on competitors’ websites, on websites falsely advertising that the photographs are free to use, and she’s even come across instances where companies have photoshopped their own products into her images. Despite the brazen misuse of her images that she frequently encounters, Jenna does not generally pursue claims against her infringers because it is too expensive and time consuming to do so. It’s just not worth the cost—even though she registers at least some of her images for copyright protection, and so would be entitled to statutory damages and attorneys’ fees with respect to those images in case of a court victory. Unfortunately, Jenna’s story is not unique. For countless individual artists and small businesses, combating the unauthorized use of their creative works online is a source of enduring frustration. The frequency and ease with which photographs, sound recordings, videos, and other works of authorship are shared on the Internet leaves those without significant time and resources little recourse when they encounter infringement. But now, after years of advocacy by creators like Jenna, new legislation promises long-overdue support for these marginalized groups in the ongoing fight against overwhelming infringement in the digital age.