It’s happened to me and it may happen to you, regardless of the arts genre you work in. A few years ago, I did a lot of research on a piece of federal legislation. It took me hours to work my way through the obscure language, references to other bills, and other minutiae. I filed my article after a full day of work on it. A couple weeks later, I did a search, as I always do, to see if anyone else had written about the bill. Imagine my surprise when I saw my article, and photographs, copied and pasted word for word into someone else’s website. What happened next was infuriating.
I sent a takedown request to the only contact name I could find for the site. I received a rejection by email. It was a very snarky rejection. In other words, I’d have to get an attorney to represent me if I wanted to do anything about the website stealing my work.
Now there is a bipartisan effort in Congress to actually do something to help indie artists. The bill is called the CASE Act. You may have never heard of it. Here’s a brief overview from the Authors Guild:
The CASE Act would create a streamlined, much less formal process than currently exists in federal court. The parties would not need to hire attorneys and all proceedings would be conducted remotely, drastically reducing the cost. A three-“judge” tribunal within the Copyright Office would hear small copyright cases, allowing damages of up to $15,000 per work and no more than $30,000 in total. The process would also be entirely optional for both parties.
Personally speaking, I think this ACT would benefit indie artists and freelancers. It may not have helped me in the situation I described—the thief lived in another country.
**Rasenberger is executive director of the Authors Guild.
(Filed by Kay B. Day; source document Authors Guild Statement with additional remarks by IAS; July 11, 2019)