Benefits / Resources / Articles
December 27, 2018

The Fight for Copyright: Shannon’s Story

When you put your blood, sweat and tears into creating a masterpiece that showcases your uniqueness, the last thing you want is your work being improperly used or even stolen, especially if your art is your livelihood.  Unfortunately, many professional photographers of all backgrounds and fields deal with copyright infringement every day.

Granted, those who have high enough incomes predominantly benefit from today's current laws, but the same can't be said for the average professional, like Shannon. Check out Shannon's story on the battle for the rights to her own image:


Shannon is a professional portrait photographer who makes her living documenting cherished family milestones. She discovered a copyright infringement when a friend called to let her know how cute her image (a newborn portrait) looked on display at a local store. After some investigating, Shannon discovered that her client had taken professional prints purchased from Shannon to the photo department of a local drugstore belonging to a large, national chain. The client purchased copies of the photo from the drugstore even though she did not have printing rights. The drugstore not only sold prints to this customer without permission from the creator but additionally printed the image onto canvases and used those to advertise their canvas print sales.

 The photographer reached out to both the local store and the national corporate office regarding the infringement. She sent a cease and desist letter as well as an invoice demanding payment for the unauthorized use of her image for advertisement. Weeks later, she received a call from a corporate attorney who informed her that he would only correspond further through an attorney, meaning Shannon would have to retain counsel to pursue this any further.

Shannon is looking for a simple resolution. She wants this company to cease all use of her images, pay a reasonable licensing fee for the commercial use of the image thus far, and learn a valuable lesson so that they do not continue to do this to other photographers. Shannon believes that the current copyright system breeds infringements because large companies understand how unlikely small creators are to sue, so they don't think twice about committing infringements and ignoring demands.

 "I would not hesitate to pursue this if I could do so on my own through small claims," Shannon said. She believes the creation of a small claims option would not only give creators a feasible option for seeking modest damages but would also create a deterrent for corporations to commit infringements against small creators because there would finally be a risk of consequences.

Stories like these are the reason that a Small Claims process can be a game-changer for photographers and creative artists. It will help them enforce their copyright in cost-effective and efficient ways. Learn more about to how to support Small Claims today.