Sunday, October 31, 2021

CASE Act -- Nov 12, 2021 Deadline for Comments on Fair Fees

(graphic above from the American Society of Media Photographers)

The Graphic Artists Guild

shared a CASE Act/Small Claims court update on their Facebook page. Getting the CASE Act passed took a lot of time and effort. Expect some bumps in the road as this long-awaited law rolls out. NOW is the time to follow its progress and add your voice. Early cases will begin to build precedent.

Here is the link:

Here is most of the text from the GAG post:

"21 Oct Copyright Small Claims: Advocate for Fair Fees

in "Advocacy," " Advocacy Alert," "Copyright," "News: by The Graphic Artists Guild

NOTE: The Copyright Office has extended the deadline for comments to November 12th.

The Copyright Office has been working to implement the CASE Act, the recently passed legislation which establishes a copyright small claims tribunal. The Office has been issuing Notices of Proposed Rulemakings (NPRM), outlining the rules and procedures guiding the Copyright Claims Board, and requesting feedback from stakeholders. However, their latest NPRM proposed a fee and process which we find troubling for individual creators. We’re asking creators to please respond to the Copyright Offices NPRM with a comment letter by the deadline of November 12th.

Why the Fee Structure is Unfair

When a copyright holder initiates a claim in the CCB, the respondent – the individual they are bringing to the CCB for a copyright infringement – has the opportunity to opt out of the CCB proceedings. (In that case the copyright holder can elect to bring the case to federal court.) The Copyright Office has proposed a filing fee of $100 to initiate a claim. However, if the respondent decides to opt out of the CCB proceeding, by the process proposed by the Copyright Office, the claimant is out that entire fee.

We think this proposed filing fee process is cost prohibitive and will deter individual artists from using the CCB. We’re particularly concerned that those filing claims will lose the entire $100 filing fee. Instead, we support the proposal for a split filing fee process: the individual filing a claim initially pays a fee of $25. If the respondent does not opt out of the CCB process, the remainder of the fee, $75, is charged to proceed with the copyright small claims case.

Contact the Copyright Office

We’re asking creators and copyright holders to please contact the Copyright Office by submitting a short comment letter on the NPRM by end of day on November 12th. Submit your comments at the NPRM portal, and be sure to follow the Copyright Office’s submission guidelines. You can submit comments of less than 5,000 characters – we recommend a short comment letter – in the comments field of their online form. Be sure to identify yourself as a creator (a designer, illustrator, etc.) in your comments. Your comments should include:

The drawbacks of a flat $100/claim filing fee to you as an individual creator/copyright owner;

the unlikelihood of your use of the new copyright small claims court if the flat fee structure is in place;

the benefits to you as an individual creator/copyright owner if a tiered fee structure were adopted, whereby claimants would pay a smaller fee to file a claim and then a larger fee once the other party does not opt out and the case becomes active."

More on the CASE Act here on the blog:

graphic below from this post by

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Art Theft -- a case study in docu-series "LulaRich"

How -- and why -- do designers (or companies) steal artist-owned images they find online?? Can they make unauthorized commercial products from copyright protected works?

One case study of this common online art theft problem can be see in the 2021 Amazon original 4-episode docu-series "LulaRich"

Photos below are some screen grabs from the docu-series...

... interview subject Becca Peter, an online retailer (of washi tape) who started following LuLaRoe online retailers' stories circa 2016...

...At about 32 mins into Episode 3 "Blow Up" the docu-series crew interviews Iliana Estarellas, a designer formerly on staff at LulaRoe. She explains the pressure the company's designers were under. 

With demand ramping up, the underprepared company heads set unrealistic quotas for numbers of designs to be produced each day by their in-house designers. The daily quota was around 100 prints per day, per artist.

Estarellas describes how she coached fellow designers in ways to meet these quotas.

She was just "trying to show the other designers tips, to cheat the system like, "okay, you made this art. Take two things out of it. Recolor it differently. Completely new art piece."

At about 13  mins into Episode 4 ""Toe Up,"  the docu-series covers some of the lawsuits brought against LulaRoe regarding "defective leggings.. copyright infringement".. and "misappropriated.. artwork"

A slideshow follows with a number of side by side examples of images duplicated on to LulaRoe products...

The interview with Estarellas continues: "we were instructed from the beginning, if I'm going to take something, a piece of art from Google, wherever we sourced it from, you had to take a little piece from it and then change that little piece at least 20% in order to  not, you know, get sued or whatnot. But some designers didn't really abide by those rules, I guess."

Estarella continues a few minutes later: "... the demand was so, so insanely, unrealistically high that it forced some of our designers to rip off some other artists. Just to meet the number (daily quota)."

The entire docu-series is interesting. The portions about the artwork lawsuits are especially helpful for indie artists. Learning about precedent cases like this helps raise awareness for the value of the art that is put online by the original artists. 

Yes. You can sue big companies for infringement  -- if you have registered your copyrights.

More art theft posts here: