Update on The CASE Act: Advocating for a Copyright Small Claims Process
Posted by Advocacy Liaison on April 30, 2018
The Guild joined representatives from our coalition of visual artist associations for Congressional visits in January and in April in support of H.R. 3945, The CASE Act. The visits were part of our ongoing efforts to get copyright small claims legislation passed. Representatives Hakeem Jeffries and Tom Marino introduced the bill last October.
To demonstrate support for the Bill, the associations have urged visual artists to contact their Representatives to co-sponsor H.R. 3945 in order to move the Bill into the House Judiciary Committee for markup and a vote.
If and when the bill passes the House Judiciary Committee, it proceeds to the House floor for discussion and a full vote. If the House votes to pass the bill, it will be referred to the Senate, where it must follow a similar procedure. If the bill passes the Senate, it will be sent to the President for signing into law – unless the Senate bill is significantly different than the House version.
In that case, the differences in both bills must be reconciled in a conference committee before proceeding and approved by both the House and the Senate. All this must happen before the end of the year, when this term of Congress ends.
The April lobbying visit coincided with the passage of the Music Modernization Act by the House Judiciary Committee. The Act modernizes music licensing law which predated digital streaming and downloads and will better meet the needs of both songwriters and music providers.
Advocating for the bill brought together an unprecedented coalition of stakeholders: musicians, songwriters, music publishers, and recording industry interest groups. Two weeks later, the House of Representatives unanimously passed the Music Modernizations Act. Individual creators and copyright holders are hoping this is a harbinger for The CASE Act.
Below: Guild Advocacy Liaison Rebecca Blake (second from left) joined (left to right) David Trust of PPA, PPA lobbyiest Cindi Merifield, and Tom Kennedy of ASMP in going over the schedule of Congressional meetings. Photo courtesy of Matthew Rakola, APA member.
Take Action for Artists: Let Congress Know You Support the CASE Act
Posted by Advocacy Liaison on March 28, 2018
Cartoon © W.P Morse, wpmorse.com
For months we've been reporting on H.R. 3945, the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act (CASE Act) of 2017. Its a bill that is way overdue for individual graphic artists, who face significant obstacles when trying to protect their work from infringement. The CASE Act evens the playing field, by creating a small copyright claims tribunal that's simple and affordable. And it's completely optional – graphic artists with large infringements will still be able to take their case to “regular” copyright court.
But to get the CASE Act to move forward, we need every graphic artist to let their Representatives know we support this legislation!
This Spring, the bill is being considered by the House Judiciary Committee. We need to move this bill forward, so we’re asking everyone who supports fairness in copyright to help us make a splash. Now is the time to contact your Representatives and ask them to co-sponsor H.R. 3945, and ask them to support the Act. (You can call or email, but we recommend calling – calls to members of Congress make a bigger impact.) You can use our telephone script or email message, or draft your own.
Already contacted your Representative? Contact them again! Let them know you're serious.
There are several ways you can contact Congress. Pick the method that suits you best!
You can look up your Representative, and retrieve their telephone number, and be taken to a page to send them an email. Copyrightdefense has a message that was drafted from a photographer's perspective, but you can rewrite that message, or use our supplied message.
You can look up your Representative and send them a message, which you can edit or replace with our own.
Townhall will list all your local and state representatives, and one click will pull up telephone numbers. From there you can use our telephone script, or draft your own.
Support the CASE Act. And let your Representative they should too!
I am a graphic artist and a small business owner who relies on the protection copyright affords my work. Right now, it’s very difficult for me to enforce my copyrights: the court systems is too expensive, and many lawyers won’t touch small copyright cases. The result is that my work is open to infringement, and I have little recourse to address that.
I’m writing you today to ask you to please support H.R. 3945, the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2017 (CASE Act). The Act would establish a copyright small claims tribunal that would provide me with an affordable, practical, and voluntary option to the federal courts. It would even the playing field for individual creators like me, and would deter the rampant infringement of our work.
H.R. 3945 is going to be considered by the House Judiciary Committee this April. I’m asking you to please support the H.R. 3945, the CASE Act, by co-sponsoring the bill, and by voting in favor of it. If you have already sponsored the bill, thank you so much for your support. We’re long overdue for a small copyright claims process that serves individual creators and small businesses like me.
I'm calling today to ask the Representative to support H.R. 3945, the CASE Act. My name is (state name) and I reside at (state address). I am a graphic artist and a small business owner who relies on the protection copyright affords my work. Right now, it’s very difficult for me to enforce my copyrights because the federal court system is too expensive, and many lawyers won’t touch small copyright cases. The result is that my work is open to infringement, and I have little recourse to address that.
H.R. 3945, the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2017, would establish a copyright small claims tribunal that would provide me with an affordable, practical, and voluntary option to the federal courts. It would even the playing field for individual creators like me, and would deter the rampant infringement of our work.
H.R. 3945 is going to be considered by the House Judiciary Committee this April. I’m asking the Representative to please support the H.R. 3945, the CASE Act, by co-sponsoring the bill, and by voting in favor of it. We’re long overdue for a small copyright claims process that serves individual creators and small businesses like me.
There’s Work to Do on Copyright Small Claims
Posted by Advocacy Liaison on January 19, 2018
We've never been this close.
For years, creators and visual arts organizations like ours have been asking for a copyright small claims court. In 2016, two bills that were introduced into the House sought to establish such a court, and just last October, the CASE Act (H.R. 3945) was introduced. The CASE Act is widely supported; representatives from both sides of the aisle have signed on to co-sponsor the bill, and articles posted in trade journals, news publications, and industry blogs welcome it.
Why is a copyright small claims court getting so much attention?
The system currently in place for protecting copyrights simply doesn't work well for individual creators. If your work has been infringed, your only recourse is to take the infringer into federal court – a process that is expensive, time-consuming, and confusing. You’ll need to hire a lawyer, and yet many lawyers won’t take on infringment lawsuits where the potential award is under $30,000, far beyond what can be expected in than many small infringement cases. The federal court systems works for large copyright holders — companies or individuals with high value copyright claims. But for many individual artists, the federal court system is simply out of reach.
A copyright small claims court would give individual creators an alternate path – one that is affordable, easy, and streamlined. And while the system outlined in the CASE Act limits the remedies – for example, statutory damages would be capped at $15,00/work or $30,000 total — the small claims court would be entirely voluntary. That means artists who registered their work, and who have a substantial claim, can still take the case in federal court.
There is work to be done.
While we’re thrilled with the amount of attention the bill has gotten, and the number of representatives across party lines who’ve copsponsored the bill, there is still a lot of work to do. The simple truth is that most bills die in committee. In the last session of Congress (2015-2017), only 3% of the bills introduced were enacted into law. The only way to get The CASE Act moving forward is to keep a spotlight on it.
You can help by asking your representative to co-sponsor H.R. 3945, the CASE Act. It's easy: go to the “take action” pages on the Copyright Alliance website or on Copyright Defense.
If your representative is already co-sponsoring the bill, shoot them an email and tell them thank you. Then spread the word to your friends, family, colleagues, teachers, co-workers, etc. Direct them to this article, and to the Copyright Alliance and Copyright Defense pages.
Below: the Capitol Building, viewed during our January trip to lobby for copyright small claims.© Graphic Artists Guild
Health Insurance Options, Now That the Federal Enrollment Period is Over
Posted by Rebecca Blake on December 19, 2017
If you had wanted to sign up for health insurance but missed the enrollment period for the federal exchange, you may still have options to get coverage at HealthCare.gov. If you’ve experienced a qualifying life event or any number of specific conditions, you may qualify for a special enrollment period. But your first step should be to double check that your state doesn’t have a state health exchange with an enrollment period extended beyond the federal exchange.
Residents of many states no longer have access to an open enrollment; either their state never set up a health insurance exchange, requiring their residents to purchase insurance on the federal exchange, or their enrollment period has ended. Note that while the states listed below have extended enrollment periods, coverage may not begin until after February 1st. Check your state’s website for details on the coverage period, and to enroll:
• California: January 31 https://www.coveredca.com
• Colorado: January 12 http://connectforhealthco.com
• District of Columbia: January 31 https://dchealthlink.com
• Massachusetts: January 23 https://www.mahealthconnector.org
• Minnesota: January 15 https://www.mnsure.org
• New York: January 31 https://nystateofhealth.ny.gov
• Rhode Island: December 31 https://healthsourceri.com
• Washington: January 15 https://www.wahealthplanfinder.org
Residents of the remaining 42 states may be eligible to sign up for coverage under a Special Enrollment Period if they’ve experienced any of a number of life changes:
• Gotten married
• Had a baby, adopted, or placed a child in foster care
• Lost insurance through divorce or legal separation
• Lost insurance through death of a family member
• Moved to a new zip code, county, or state, or moved to the US
• Moved to attend school or to follow seasonal work, or from a shelter
• Lost a job which provided health insurance
• Lost health coverage from a plan purchased independently
• Became ineligible for Medicare, Medicaid, or CHIP
• Turned 26 and became ineligible to be covered on a parent’s health plan
There are additional “complex issues” which can be taken into consideration when evaluating whether you are eligible for coverage under a Special Enrollment Period. These include: unexpected hospitalizations or temporary disability, technical errors at the HealthCare.gov website that prevented enrollment from going through properly, receiving incorrect information on HealthCare.gov when you selected your plan, and experiencing spousal abuse or abandonment. If you apply for consideration in a Special Enrollment Period and are denied, you can appeal the decision.
The Guild conducted a free webinar on the ACA and its options in mid-November. However, it’s been a rocky Fall for those wanting to sign up for health insurance. The repeated efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, let alone provisions in the proposed tax legislation, have made predicting insurance options and rates for 2018 extremely difficult. Our own free webinar on signing up for the ACA had to be revised the day before the webinar, and even then was outstripped by political developments in the previous 24 hours.
Below: Although the enrollment period at HealthCare.gov is over, you may still qualify for coverage.
The Guild Joins Visual Artists for a December Lobbying Visit
Posted by Advocacy Liaison on December 08, 2017
On December 4-5, the Guild joined our Coalition of Visual Artists for a trip to Capitol Hill to lobby on behalf of graphic artists in support of the CASE Act. The Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act was introduced by Representatives Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Tom Marino (R-PA) in October. The Act creates a Copyright Claims Board to oversee small copyright cases in a process that for copyright holders is faster, less expensive, and simpler than the current system. While the Act has had wide bipartisan support – five co-sponsors across party lines – the Guild and Coalition members are encouraging additional Representatives to co-sponsor the bill.
The Guild joined counsel and members of the photography associations ASMP, NANPA, NPPA, PPA, and APA, as well as Copyright Alliance CEO Keith Kupferschmid, in meeting with the staffs of a number of representatives. To make the case for the CASE Act, we focused our comments on an explanation of how the very means by which graphic artists generate publicity and find new clients — online portfolios — is rampantly infringed. We also explained that with a majority of lawyers declining to take copyright infringement cases with a potential outcome of under $30,000, individual graphic artists are often left limited options when their copyrights are infringed.
The Guild will continue to lobby on behalf of the legislation, and as it works its way through committee, will work to ensure that the interests of graphic artists are reflected in the bill. We’re also asking creators to contact their representative and ask him or her to consider co-sponsoring the bill. An action portal on copyrightdefense.com has been set up for individuals to find the contact information for their representative; a sample email and telephone script have been provided.
Below: A view of the Capitol from outside the Rayburn Office Building, which houses the offices of Representatives.
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