There is a very worrying act being discussed at the moment, regarding how any creative people may LEGALLY have their work stolen, and not get compensation or damages for this.
As a creator, you own the rights to the images you've created and are currently entitled under the law to be awarded damages and legal fees if you bring a suit against an infringer and win the suit.
The proposed "American Orphan" legislation will cause illustrators (and other affected creatives) problems as it proposes to legalize infringement (copying work):‘The United States House of Representatives has proposed an amendment to U.S. copyright law that would legalize the infringement of any copyrighted work, regardless of age, country of origin, published or unpublished, wherever an infringer asserts he was unable to find the rights holder after what the infringer regards as a “reasonably diligent search.”
The bill would deny an infringed author statutory damages, attorneys fees and other court costs and expenses, but it would not limit the amount of attorneys fees or damages the infringer could obtain from the author in a counterclaim.
In a nutshell, the bills will create a huge loophole for anyone to reproduce or use copyrighted materials in any way they choose (including for profit). At the same time, it also removes current existing legal punishment for copyright infringement by removing damage and legal fee awards for those whose works are infringed or stolen.
The WTO’s (World Trade Organisation) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), negotiated in the 1986-94 Uruguay Round, introduced intellectual property rules into the multilateral trading system for the first time.
The WTO states:
"Having intellectual property laws is not enough. They have to be enforced. This is covered in Part 3 of TRIPS. The agreement says governments have to ensure that intellectual property rights can be enforced under their laws, and that the penalties for infringement are tough enough to deter further violations. The procedures must be fair and equitable, and not unnecessarily complicated or costly. They should not entail unreasonable time-limits or unwarranted delays. People involved should be able to ask a court to review an administrative decision or to appeal a lower court’s ruling."
If the USA is allowed to implement this new Act, it will cause a major problem to all artists, authors, and visual creators around the world.
Please lobby the World Trade Organisation, your government Cultural / Arts / Trade departments so that we can still be allowed to own what we have created.