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small claims copyright court can be a reality!

If you didn’t have a chance to see the Graphic Artists Guild webinar on copyright small claims court, last week, never fear! We attended and took good notes.

We were inspired by what we learned. This is a real and excellent opportunity to make a significant change to U.S. copyright law that could be of tremendous benefit especially to entrepreneurial artists like you.

Read on for a digest of the webinar, and stay tuned. We'll be sharing more soon to help you stay up to date and take a part in making sure good legislation is crafted and passed!

The GAG webinar is available for viewing here. For those of you who’d like the key points, here’s our take on it.

  • The presenters all agreed that the current process of having to file a copyright claim in federal court simply doesn’t work. It’s so costly and complicated that as a practical matter, entrepreneurial artists (i.e. small artist-based businesses that depend on copyright to enforce their rights) don’t really have a viable forum for self protection.
  • A small claims court will likely help to create a viable forum for artists to enforce their copyrights if the law has the right provisions in it.
  • Artists need to make their wishes known by telling their congressional representatives that they want the small claims court law passed.
  • Congressional representatives love to use personal stories from their constituents to explain why they support legislation and to persuade their fellow legislators to act. The panelists invited artists to send written letters—yes, old-school snail mail—to their legislators not only supporting the small claims law but describing how copyright infringement has personally harmed them.*
  • Getting a law passed is a marathon not a sprint. There’s a lot of back and forth between legislators and stakeholders— that would be you—before a law is finalized. Language changes, new ideas are introduced as everyone works toward the final bill that goes for a vote.
  • This process has been going on for a few years. There’s one bill before congress already and another will be introduced soon, at which point, the debate will heighten.
  • To get involved you can begin by going to copyrightdefense.com.

* Your experience with copyright infringement could help bring about effective legislative changes.  In an upcoming post, we'll share a letter template and tips for what kind of details to include. In the meantime, please share your questions and stories with us. We want to do all we can to help make Small Claims Copyright Court a reality!