I am very happy to report that Shell Love Bug is back where she belongs – in my possession. I’m proud I created this sculpture symbolizing the love of beachcombing and I’m proud of the many talented people, who helped shelldazzle Shell Love Bug 3 years ago. And then there’s a very important second part of this saga… I’m extremely proud of the many amazing people whom I call friends that supported me in this THREE year battle to win my art back from Lee County- including the wise and sensible Commissioner Frank Mann. But most of all I’m thankful and so grateful for my husband Clark. He stood by my side through thick and thin- I couldn’t have gotten through this without him.
So I want to explain a few things…. first of all, I was not paid for my work on Shell Love Bug. Lee County NEVER paid me for anything to do with Shell Love Bug. Period. We had an agreement that if I brought my idea of a mobile sculpture to fruition to display at their planned event, they would buy my canvas for my art… which was a car… then give the car to me as my payment for my work for them. I honored our agreement – Lee County did not.
Second, I had to bring a federal lawsuit against my own county, Lee County, for copyright infringement to get what was rightfully mine- my artwork- Shell Love Bug.
Copyright is a federal law that was created to protect and promote the original works of artists and creatives.
Even though I held an official federal copyright with the paper to prove it for my Shell Love Bug artwork, Lee County starting using my art in ways I didn’t approve and without my consent. I resorted to hiring an attorney to officially send a cease and desist order to Lee County in March 2018.
The only reason this lawsuit existed is because Lee County displayed and promoted my copyrighted artwork for their own use, after I officially ordered them not to. That is copyright infringement of my art- my intellectual property.
While my copyright case has now been resolved, I’m hoping no other artist will have to go through what I did. Having to file through the federal court system for a copyright infringement lawsuit is not only costly, its physically and mentally draining. Intellectual Property laws were created to establish a safe and enabling environment for creativity to flourish for not only on a personal level, but also for innovation and competitiveness for businesses and communities. Infringing on this law, exhausts and stunts an artist’s creativity, whether it be visual art, music, literary works or anything else.
So this is what gave me hope for the future of copyright holders ….
Just last month, May 2019, a proposed law, the CASE Act (Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2019), was introduced in both houses of Congress. This would provide a more efficient and less costly means for most copyright holders seeking justice for infringed works through a specialized small-claims-court. Although CASE Act would not have been an alternative for me since my infringer was a government entity (and very complex because my “canvas” had a car title), it is extremely important this bipartisan legislation passes to make this act become law. This law will protect the majority of copyright holders who have been infringed upon. Help give artists and creators the respect we deserve by contacting your Senators and Representatives in your state to ask them to support the CASE Act so we can all be a part of keeping the creative process stay strong.
As Brene Brown says “What is art if it’s not love.”
Shell Love Bug was born a symbol of Love… and now she is a symbol of HOPE as well. The hope of keeping the creative process strong.
So hopefully one day…. This Too Shell Pass.
CASE Act Bills:
House of Representatives – HR 2426
Senate – S 1273