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Results tagged “Copyright for Photographers” from PPA Today

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 Janis. Check out Janis' story on his battle for the rights to his own image:

Janis is an award-winning fine arts photographer who identifies himself as story-teller. He tells beautiful stories through his writing, photography and other artistic pursuits. Among his favorite subjects are architecture and vineyards. Janis captured a beautiful image of Oregon's wine country. Later, he saw a very similar image on the bumpers of Oregon citizens.

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After some investigating, he discovered that the image on a new Oregon license plate was, in fact, derived from his photo. According to Janis' account of the infringement, the tourism bureau of Salem, Oregon decided to create a license plate with a vineyard scene in order to "develop a steady stream of income." They hired an artist to create the image for the plate and provided the artist with images to use as a "vision for the plate". The plate was created with art derived from these "vision images" which included Janis' image.

With a $30 surcharge per license plate sold, the plate brought in $530,000 for the state, Janis reported. However, when contacted by Janis, an attorney representing the bureau claimed that the state did not make any profit from the plate asserting that the $530,000 was not "profit". Janis consulted with an attorney who advised that the legal realities of copyright enforcement make it very difficult to pursue a case and the fact that it would be against the state only makes it more complex.

Janis' attorney advised him to send an invoice to the bureau. He did and, many months later, has yet to receive another response.

This story and many others 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. We need everyone to support Small Claims at PPA.com/SmallClaims



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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 means of 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 Rob. Check out Rob's story on his battle for the rights to his own image:

Rob is a freelance professional photographer in San Francisco who was hired by an online

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 visitors' magazine to shoot a still life to illustrate an article on local bars and pubs. A competing website lifted Rob's photograph to promote their magazine without permission or compensation. Rob's client was upset that the image they had commissioned was used by their competitor and accused Rob of selling his image to the competition without authorization. Though Rob tried to explain that the image was stolen, his client, nevertheless, stopped working with Rob out of concern that he was untrustworthy.

Rob attempted numerous times to contact the infringing party by phone in order to be paid for the unauthorized usage and to demand that the infringing company remove the image from their website. He eventually sent the infringing company an invoice for the usage along with a demand letter telling the company to take the image down.

After several months, Rob was successful in reaching someone from the infringing company by phone, who subsequently refused to acknowledge their infringement-insisting that they hadn't infringed because they had simply lifted the image from Google Images. The infringing company refused to pay for the unauthorized usage and did not return Rob's subsequent calls. They did eventually remove the image from their website, however, due to this infringement; Rob was never hired by his client again.

Rob considered suing the infringer in Federal Court (his only recourse) but concluded it was too expensive to do so. He feels that if there was a Small Claims option available, he would have been able to not only enforce his copyright, but it would have also been useful in retaining his long-standing client.

This story and many others 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. We need everyone to support Small Claims at PPA.com/SmallClaims! Stay up-to-date on copyright and the fight for artists' rights at PPA.com/Copyright.


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By David Eun

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Arguably a creative mind's biggest headache - copyright infringement - affects professional photographers of all backgrounds and fields. From the head of a prominent studio to the small-business owner around the corner, having your work stolen or improperly used constantly remains a thought in the back of their minds.

Those fortunate enough to have high incomes predominantly benefit from today's current laws, but the same can't be said for the average professional. Check out Angela's story on her struggle to protect the rights to her watercolor illustrations:

Angela is an illustrator based in Atlanta, Georgia. She works in watercolor, ink and colored pencil. She published her illustrations and paintings in an instructional book, "Angelic Visions" [North Light Books, © 2011], available on Amazon.com and in bookstores.

Her registered illustrations in Angelic Visions were recreated and reproduced as prints and other decorative pieces without permission by another artist. The reproductions have been sold on the infringer's website and direct sales to the public as a vendor (authorized by event management and paid for a vendor's booth) at Renaissance Fairs throughout Texas. This infringer has also copied other artists' works and sold unauthorized reproductions.

Angela contacted the infringer directly and told her to stop selling her copyrighted work. The infringer agreed and removed the work from her website, but covertly continued to sell the unauthorized work in person at the fairs. The artist contacted her publisher, who told Angela they would send a cease & desist notice to the infringer but they would not be able to help with any further litigation, which Angela wanted to pursue. The publisher told Angela they would not sue the infringer, nor would they participate in her legal action if she filed suit, as this was beyond their capabilities.

If Angela would have been able to seek legal recourse against the infringer, she would have demanded take-down of the unauthorized images from the infringer's website, as well as an order to cease selling unauthorized prints of her work and to destroy all unauthorized prints the infringer currently has on hand. Angela would have asked for actual damages including a licensing fee for items already sold and profits from sales made, totaling $30,000 or more.

"I paid to copyright my work, and it feels pointless," Angela said. "I don't want to pay into our copyright system if it won't protect me. What's the point?"

This story and many other 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. We need everyone to support Small Claims at PPA.com/SmallClaims! Stay up-to-date on copyright and the fight for artists' rights at PPA.com/Copyright.

Imaging USA 2018 will be here before you know it...three-to-six days of everything photography, including learning, networking, shopping, and partying! It's all going down in the Music City, Nashville, TN, January 14-16, 2018 (Pre-Con classes January 11-13).

Imaging USA is known far-and-wide as THE place to see some of the best speakers in the photography industry, as they take you on deep-dives into every photographic and business topic you could want to learn more about. In order to get you even more excited (if that's possible!), PPA is going to spend the next several months highlighting our 2018 Imaging USA speakers.

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Let's Meet...

Ross Benton, Cr.Photog.

Web: studiobenton.com

Ross' recipe for business is as unique as his photography. Known for his weddings, his market rapidly expanded into the family and senior markets. His studio has created wall portraits to fill homes since 2008.

Ross and his wife of ten years not only run the studio together, but spend time leading functions, events and studies at their church. When not at church, you will find the Benton family cooking, entertaining, and boating at the lake. It is this laid-back, approachable style that creates a relaxed environment for his clients, which you will also find flowing over into the classroom. Many students have said his programs are not only easy to follow, but also chock-full of time-saving, money-making tips.

Speaker Sessions:

Thu, Jan. 11

9:00am- 5:00pm- The Secrets to Success When Turning Pro 

Fri, Jan. 12

9:00am- 5:00pm- The Secrets to Success When Turning Pro 

 

Q&A:

What is your life motto? Give and Give in Abundance and God will provide!

Why do you love photography? As a photographer, we are able to capture the most important moments in our clients' lives.  We are invited to cherish, celebrate and capture life!

Each photographer has a specialty/genre/ niche; how did you discover yours?

Starting my career in college, I chased the professional-sports business and enjoyed having a good time learning photojournalism while traveling.  Luckily, I was still in college and figured out I need to educate myself in business and added a minor in marketing.  From there, I followed the business.  My niche now evolves with my market.  My studio has continued to evolve for the past ten years into what it is today.

What was one of the defining moments in your career? The moment in college when my Photography-101 professor approached me and said I should consider entering his degree program.

What would be your advice for photographers who are just starting their career?

Get a business degree and do continued education in your local area on marketing and sales.  Photography is an artistic craft created by you.  Learn and grow in your photography through your local, state and national PPA associations, but never stop learning marketing and sales.

If you could have a theme song, what would it be? I just want to dance with you - George Strait

Ross Benton is just one of the many amazing speakers you'll get to meet and learn from at Imaging USA 2018! Registration is online now so take advantage of the Early Bird rates for passes and your hotel!

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It's Copyright GO TIME! With HB 3945 currently being worked on in the U.S. House of Representatives, we're farther along than ever in our mission to (finally) bring small-claims copyright protection to photographers like you. In order to join this fight for artists' rights, you need to Be More Informed and PPA will help with that!

Not sure what copyright benefits come with your PPA membership? Not sure if you are doing everything you can to protect your images from infringement? And what is the deal with Copyright Small Claims? Great news! All these questions and plenty more will be answered during tomorrow's informational copyright webinar.

This webinar is FREE and open to all TOMORROW ONLY, so register now and tune in, November 14, 2017, at 3:00 pm ET. 

Oh, and if you're a member of PPA you'll be able to replay this and any PPA webinar at your leisure and however many times you wish (videos uploaded about two weeks after original webinar date)! Block your calendar and join the fight for artists' rights! 

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The copyright system in the United States, while not perfect, has worked well for many creators in the higher-income industries. The harsh reality is, however, that copyright in America does not work at all for small-business creators. The vast majority of creators have very little protection under the law because, without a massive income or corporate support, they have no real option for enforcement - and what good are rights when you can't actually enforce them?

Andrew is the perfect example of the small-business creator. He provides for his family by operating a small photography business through which he provides families in his community a product that will be cherished for generations to come. Andrew photographed an event for a local restaurateur and licensed images to the restaurant for specific marketing purposes. 

The restaurant's PR firm distributed one of Andrew's images to a culinary magazine. The magazine then used the photo as the cover image of a monthly issue without Andrew's permission and without mention of either Andrew or his client. Andrew contacted the publisher and sent an invoice for an appropriate licensing fee. He was ignored. Andrew then had a cease and desist letter sent to the publisher on his behalf from his photographic association. Still, he received no response. 

Andrew is now facing an impossible decision. He can hire an attorney and pursue this further, or choose to let it go altogether. Due to principle, Andrew does not want to let it go, but at this point, he's afraid he would actually have to sue the infringer to get any response or payment. Andrew estimates the value of this infringement at $2,500 which he feels is far too low to justify a lawsuit in federal court. 

"It's a shame they will probably just get away with this," Andrew said. "Not facing any consequences just reinforces the behavior." Andrew believes the lack of copyright enforcement options available to small creators like him is the reason businesses and publications choose to infringe rather than secure proper licensing. 

"Some sort of a small claims process is the only way creators like me will ever be able to get paid for infringing uses of their work," Andrew said.

That small-claims process is on its way! With the introduction of HR 3942, small-business creators have a chance to finally have their cases heard. Stay up-to-date on the fight for artists' rights at PPA.com/Copyright and JOIN THE FIGHT at PPA.com/SmallClaims!

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By James Yates

This is the moment we have all been waiting for! 

Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Representative Tom Marino (R-PA) have introduced HR 3945, a small claims bill entitled Copyright Alternative in Small Claims Act of 2017, or "CASE".

This bill will enable photographers to pursue copyright infringement in a more cost effective and timely manner!

Many of you remember December 2016, when Representative Chu (D-CA) and Representative Smith (R-TX) introduced the Fairness for America's Small Creators Act, or FASCA. Instead of proceeding with that bill, Representatives Chu and Smith have both agreed to sign on as co-sponsors to CASE. 

Both understand the importance and need for a Copyright Small Claims process and thought it was best to sign on, and push one bill. Additionally, Vice Chair Doug Collins (R-GA) has also agreed to co-sponsor CASE, highlighting how important it is to for creative artists to have a remedy to protect their copyright.

The CASE Act of 2017 features the following policy:

  1. The claim must be brought within 3 years of the infringement.
  2. There will be a small fee associated with filing a claim. This is to be determined.
  3. The claim will be heard by a tribunal that consists of two copyright attorneys and one copyright arbitrator.
  4. Before filing a claim, the copyright owner must provide the tribunal with a completed registration application filed with the Copyright Office or a certificate of registration.
  5. Bring a copyright infringement claim valued at up to $30,000:
    • If the work was registered prior to infringement the max amount of statutory damages recoverable is $15,000.
    • If the work was not registered prior to infringement the max amount of statutory damages recoverable is $7,500.
  6. The photographer will not need an attorney, since, similar to other small claims processes, this is a self-represent system, allowing you to bring a claim without a large financial investment.
  7. You can hire an attorney but you will pay for your own attorney fees.
  8. No need to travel for hearings or proceedings. Everything will be done online through video communication channels such as Skype.
  9. Partaking in the Copyright Small Claims process is voluntary.
    • If the infringer decides to opt-out, you still have the option to bring a claim in Federal Court.
  10. A final decision will be not handed down by the tribunal until a final registration certificate has been issued by the Copyright Office.
    • The decision will be held until the registration certificate has been issued.

The introduction of this bill is huge! CASE is the culmination of decades of hard work by PPA, lawmakers, the previous Register of copyright, and the entire visual artist community, to create a process that handles copyright infringement in a new way. This bill handles copyright in a manner that acknowledges the social media era is a different world in terms of sharing other people's work. The CASE bill and the small claims process that it creates will make it so much easier to protect your work and recover damages if your work is infringed upon.

It is time for all of us to support CASE and get our representatives to sign on as co-sponsors. The more co-sponsors the bill has, the better chances it has of making it to the floor for an actual vote. We've done this before with FASCA, which passed the House with overwhelming, bi-partisan support (378-48)! We can do this again!

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By David Eun 

Photographers can fall ill with copyright infringement headaches (Ugh.) That being said, a new group of anonymous photographers banded together recently to stand against, what they perceive as, violations of their creative rights. But, the issue's far from simple.

#NoFreePhotos is the trending hashtag started by roughly thirty, top fashion photographers in reaction to influencers, "allegedly posting... copyright-protected street-style photos to their own social media accounts and websites." They argue that by using photos without approval, fashion influencers essentially take the money photographers deserve and put it in their own pockets.

However, pushback from said influencers emerged almost instantly. To them, they are merely exercising their publicity rights, more specifically their legal ability to determine how photographs will be used commercially. Furthermore, the influencers shed light on how photographers allegedly use images of them wearing fashion accessories without consent all the time - a legal infraction in itself.

Both groups appear determined to fight for their respective causes despite the received opposition. Nevertheless, one thing they do agree on is wholeheartedly removing supposed "freebies" from the fashion industry so that everyone gets what they deserve. As one photographer puts it: "You can't pay your rent with a gifted Fendi bag."

Which side's argument makes more sense to you? Check out the full article here on The Fashion Law for more details about the ongoing debate on copyright infringement!

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By Chris Homer

Having a photograph used without your permission is a stressful situation for any
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 photographer. If you're not sure where to turn to deal with copyright infringement, fear not, PPA is here to help!

PPA members can access the online copyright infringement assistance tool for advice on how to deal with any situation where your copyright has been violated. By answering a few easy questions, the tool will provide you with detailed options on ways infringement situations are commonly addressed*. It all can be done in just a few minutes! 

So, if you're dealing with copyright infringement, start the process by using the online copyright infringement assistance tool. If you're not a member, join today to access the tool and many more copyright resources. And if you'd like to join PPA's efforts in campaigning for a copyright system that better protects photographers, consider joining PPA in the fight for artists rights! PPA works hard with our Congressmen to roll out updates to the Copyright Law. Sign up to show your support! 

*Please be aware that material provided by PPA's Copyright Tool is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice. For legal advice you should always contact a local attorney licensed to practice in your state.


ch_headshot_100x100.jpgAbout the author:
Chris Homer is PPA's SEO & Web Specialist, which basically makes Google Analytics his best friend. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Chris cheers passionately (and obnoxiously) for the Bulldogs in all things from football to checkers. When he's not hard at work on PPA's websites, you'll find Chris at auto racing events around the southeast, where he's known as a master architect of tent villages.


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By Sidra Safri

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Recently, PPA posted about software by Google that enhances low-resolution photos into high-quality images. Now, Google researchers have taken it one step further and have taught software to remove any sort of watermark from images! This makes it effectively harder to protect your copyright. 

As reported by Startlr, according to Google Researchers Tali Dekel and Michael Rubinstein:

"As often happens with vulnerabilities found in operating systems, applications, or protocols, we want to unleash this vulnerability and offer solutions to help the communities of stock images and photos adapt and better protect their author's content and creations." 

Dekel and Rubinstein believe additional elements of randomness should be used in future watermarks to protect the copyrighted works of creators. 

Currently there is no indication of this software being available to the public, but it's now more important than ever to make sure you not only have a watermark on your images, but also a copyright notice on both your images and in your metadata

Stay informed on how you can protect yourself from copyright infringement at PPA.com/Copyright

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by Mayo Lawal

You've probably heard about PPA's campaign and trips to Capitol Hill to advocate for the reform of the current U.S. Copyright Law. From time to time, we also come up with really creative ways that you can support the cause, and even encourage others to join in. 

One great way to be a part of this initiative is to share this flyer (below), which explains the copyright issues, and how they affect professional photographers all over the country. This may help your clients and friends understand the problem better and become more motivated to demand change. 

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To learn more about what PPA is doing to change copyright law by pushing for a Copyright Small Claims system, you can visit PPA's advocacy page

And if you'd like to see progress made with copyright protection, please join the Grassroots Action Team, the group of photographers who are joining in solidarity for copyright change, to show your support and know how and when to make your voice heard in Congress! Help make a difference and add your name today: PPA.com/Grassroots!



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by Sidra Safri
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1:00pm

PPA's first two meetings today have us off to a great start! 

We started the morning with Representative Doug Collins (R-GA). We were happy to hear that they are hoping for introduction of a small-claims bill very soon and they have been keeping in close touch with key players.

Representative Collins went on say that even though there is so much going on right now, he is devoted to moving small claims forward and ensuring small creators are protected. He also acknowledged that small claims and copyright modernization go hand-in-hand and we must continue to push both. We ended the meeting taking the opportunity to thank his office for everything he has done.

After Rep. Collins we went to meet with representative Hakeem Jefferies' office (D-NY). Jefferies' office has been in close contact with various members of the visual-arts community and is making sure the small-claims bill is what creators want. Once they are able to introduce a bill, Jefferies and Rep. Marino want to work closely with Joe Keeley (House Judiciary Committee's chief counsel of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property) and make sure small claims continues to be something both parties can agree upon. 

Another key aspect discussed in this meeting was making sure that however the small-claims process goes forward, in no way should it become cumbersome to the people it's meant to help. We ended this meeting thank Jefferies' office for bringing small claims to the forefront and helping making sure creators' rights are on everyone's minds. 

Right now we are heading to lunch and will take the opportunity it to regroup for our next meetings. After lunch we will be meeting with Joe Keeley from Chairman Goodlatte's office and representative Jim Jordan. 

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9:30am
PPA is back in D.C. for day two of our trip, meeting with representatives to advocate for copyright modernization and small-claims protection for photographers. Yesterday ended with our meeting with Representative Lieu (D-CA). We visited Representative Lieu's office earlier this year and he showed great interest in small claims since many of his constituents are affected by copyright Infringement. We wanted to follow up with him and thank him for his support and push for small claims. Since Representative Lieu works closely with Representative Chu's office, he fully understands why it's important for small claims and modernization to go hand in hand. This meeting was a great way to end the day, especially since we know we have such fantastic support! 

Today we are changing things up and are going to be joined by other visual-artists organizations that are also pushing for small claims! These organizations include GAG, ASMP, APA, NANPA, and NPPA. With our partner organizations we will be meeting with Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Representative Doug Collins (R-GA), Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), and Representative Bill Johnson (R-OH). All four offices have heavily engaged in work on small claims and we wanted to take the time to propose additional provisions and see what we can do to make a small-claims bill as successful as possible while protecting creative artists. 

Stay tuned for more updates!

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by Sidra Safri
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4:00pm
We started the morning by meeting with the office of Representative Labrador (R-ID) and it was a great way to get started! We were happy to hear this his office has been following the news on small claims and really thinks it will be a great step for small business and individual property rights. During this time, we also took the opportunity to explain why small claims and copyright modernization have to happen together and how interdependent they are. Rep. Labrador recognizes this importance and hopes we can continue to push the two issues together.

After meeting with Representative Labrador we went to see Representative Marino's office (R-PA). As a reminder, Representative Marino co-sponsored the other small-claims bill last year. We wanted to meet with his office to take the opportunity to thank him for how often he has worked with Representative Chu, encouraging bi-partisan support. We again took this opportunity to explain why small claims and copyright modernization need to happen together and Rep. Marino's office fully supported this. Representative Marino's office agreed that small-claims protection is important to ensuring that America continues to be the leader for creative artists for decades to come.

Our first two meetings went really well. We are heading to Representative Lieu's office (D-CA). Stay tuned for more updates to come!


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9:00am

PPA is back in D.C once again and we have three exciting meetings planned for today! 

We'll start the day off visiting the office of Representative Raul Labrador (R-ID). This is will be our second time meeting with Rep. Labrador this year. We thought it was important to visit his office again since he has a strong interest in copyright and small business... the ultimate combination! We will take this time to update his office on where small claims stands, and continue to talk to him about how important small claims is.

After meeting with Representative Labrador we are heading to Representative Tom Marino's office (R-PA). Representative Marino has an extensive history with copyright and IP issues, and has done a fantastic job in the past of working with members of both parties. PPA knows he has an interest in small claims, since Representative Marino co-sponsored the other small claims bill. Having everyone on the same page will help ensure the success of small claims.

Our last meeting for the day is with Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA). Representative Lieu has a strong interest in copyright issues and is well versed in the area since his constituents are constantly affected by copyright infringement in California. This is the second time we will be meeting with Representative Lieu's office. We believe it's important to keep him updated on small claims, and wanted to take the time to thank him for his support. 

We have some great meetings lined up today, and are excited to be advocating for your (copy)rights!!

Stay tuned for more throughout the day.


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One of PPA's missions is to campaign for the reform of the current (and inadequate!) U.S. Copyright Law. Our current system does little to protect professional photographers from damages when their work is used without their permission. And this makes no sense as the copyright system is supposed to protect copyright owners like you!

Often times, 'a picture is worth a thousand words' so we created some cartoons to illustrate this cockamamie system. The idea behind these illustrations is two-fold: (1) to share something you'll relate to, and (2) give you something you can share with your clients and fellow photographers to convey the inequity in copyright law. You can download both Copyright infringement illustrations here (2 sizes). Consider sharing them on social media today!

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To learn more about what PPA is doing to change copyright law by pushing for a Copyright Small Claims system, visit PPA's advocacy page

And if you'd like to see progress made with copyright protection, please join the group of photographers who are joining in solidarity for copyright change, the Grassroots Action Team, to show your support and know how and when to make your voice heard in Congress! Help make a difference and add your name today: PPA.com/Grassroots!

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by James Yates
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By now you know PPA is always fighting for your rights on Capitol Hill, lobbying and advocating for improvements to copyright registration and the modernization of the copyright office (including a small claims option). 

We're pretty proud of the "big-picture" ways that we're working to improve your business's sustainability and profits, but there's a smaller way that PPA has helped, behind the scenes, for years: assessing whether or not members' works have been infringed.

If you feel your work has been infringed upon, but you don't know what to do about it, PPA can help with our Copyright Infringement Assistance tool. It's designed to point you in the right direction, with steps you can take to stop the infringement! It's quick and painless...because having your art stolen is painful enough!

With PPA's Copyright Infringement Assistance tool!, if you think you've been infringed upon, you only have to answer 2-3 questions and the tool will generate specific help for you, including DCMA takedown notices, certified letters to the infringing parties or letting you know when it's time to contact an attorney.

Stop by PPA.com/Copyright and check out all the copyright assistance available to you as a member!



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By now you know PPA is always fighting for your rights on Capitol Hill, lobbying and advocating for improvements to copyright law (including a small claims option). 

You can be proud of the "big-picture" ways that your association is working to improve your business's sustainability and profits via copyright reform, but there's a new way that you can personally pitch in!

A few months ago, PPA started working on new ways to get PPA members and non-members alike to share their copyright infringement stories. After a few tweaks, it's time to roll out this new "Share Your Story" tool

Submissions can be made by both members and non-members. Share the page on your social networks. We want YOUR story and the stories of all you know who have been affected by copyright infringement. 70% of professional photographers have dealt with copyright infringement, so we know you have stories. Now, we have an opportunity to share those stories with congress and help pass the Fairness for American Small Creators Act (FASCA). 

We need to get FASCA passed because it will allow you to protect your work and provide adequate and affordable recourse if your work is stolen, without the immense time and monetary demand normally required.

We only have one shot to change things and this is why we need to hear your stories. Please make a short video of an experience you've had with copyright infringement and upload it to the link. With your stories, we will be able to advocate for a better Small Claims process on Capitol Hill that will protect the work of photographers and creative artists.


By Sidra Safri
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In the world of Intellectual Property (IP) there are three main categories:

1. Patents
2. Trademarks
3. Copyright

These three categories are distinct in their own ways and work to protect their creator, inventor, or the company that made them or who they represent. All three (patents, trademarks, and copyrights) can be used together, but people largely tend to confuse the differences between Copyright and Trademark. 

A trademark can be wording, phrasing, slogan symbols, graphics or designs that help identify a brand or set them apart from others. A logo is a great example of a trademark. Trademarks do not expire after a set number of years, therefore giving them the ability to last forever as long as they are being used. You are not required to register a trademark with the United State Patent Office, but are encouraged to do so for added protection and benefit.

A copyright protects original creations that include literary works, performing arts, photographs, etc. and can be registered with the Copyright Office in the Library of Congress. Copyright protection is determined based on different factors such as when the content was created, was it created using a pseudonym or anonymously, or it was a work-for-hire. These protections can last from 50 years after the creator's death to 120 years after publication. 

Similar to a trademark, a copyright does not need to be registered but is encouraged for added protection and higher statutory damages. 

For more information and a more detailed breakdown of these three main categories of IP, visit the USPTO website. 


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by Sidra Safri
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As photographers we all understand the importance of the Copyright Office and everything it is meant to do for the world of copyright. However, besides being the protector of copyrights, the Office's other main purpose is to continuously provide Congress with the proper knowledge necessary to make decisions in the area of Intellectual Property. 

However, to fully understand the Copyright Office and how copyright law has evolved, it is necessary to go back to the early years of America. In 1787, during discussions for the Constitutional Convention, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 was added. It stated "the Congress shall have power...to promote the process of science and useful arts, by securing for limited time to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." This law would go on to shape Copyright Law for many years to come.

Below is a short timeline of how both the Copyright Office and Copyright Law evolved. 

  • 1790: The first Copyright Act is passed and provides American creators with the ability to control when to print, reprint, or publish their work for up to 14 years, with the ability to renew for another 14 years. This was done to encourage creators to continue to add to society while giving them an incentive to do so. 
  • 1831: This was the first review of the Copyright Act. This revision allowed the protection of copyright to be extended to 28 years with the possibility to renew for another 14 years. This change was made to ensure American creators had the same, if not similar, protections as their European counterparts. 
  • 1870: This was the first revision of the Copyright Act. When the Copyright Office was first created it was up to each individual District Court to file copyright claims. However, with this revision, the office was moved from the District Courts into the Copyright Office, where it would remain. 
  • 1909: After another major review of the Copyright Act, the items that could be protected by copyright were increased to include more categories. This review also extended the renewal from 14 years to 28 years. During this time, many congressional members were trying to find a balance between allowing the creator to enjoy the benefits of their creation and also allowing the public to enjoy these creations. 
  • 1976:  After 67 years of no revisions to the Copyright Act, it was necessary to incorporate technological advancements, as well as to prepare to join the Berne Convention which was joined by our European counterparts in 1886. Also during this revision, copyright protection was extended to the life of the author plus 50 or 75 years if the work was done for hire and/or for unpublished works. 
  • 1992: An amendment was made to make copyright renewal automatic, and therefore really limited what items were joining the public domain. 
  • 1998: Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act extended protection from 50 years after the life of the creator to 70 years after the life of the creator. 
  • 1998: Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) brought some aspects of copyright law to the 90s that would address challenges many creators were facing, while attempting to regulate digital items. 
  • 1999: Digital Theft Deterrence and Copyright Damages Improvement: With infringement becoming so easy, it was necessary to find some way to deter this from happening. Congress approved a large increase in the minimum statutory damages. The minimums went from $500 to $700 and the maximums went from $20,000 to between $30,000 and $150,000 depending on intent. 
  • 2016: Small Claims bill is introduced by Representative Judy of Chu of California. Proposing an alternative method to pursuing infringement claims valued at less than $30,000. During this same year, Chairman Goodlatte circulated a white paper highlighting the importance of Small Clams and making it a priority for the upcoming year. 
  • 2017: Representative Goodlatte introduced H.R 1695 to turn the Register of Copyright into a Senate-confirmed, Presidential Appointee, therefore ensuring a person with ample copyright knowledge is able to run the copyright office, and have a certain degree of autonomy from the Library of Congress. This bill currently has been introduced in the Senate at S. 1010 and will be heading to committee shortly. 

As you can see, the history of copyright in the U.S. is a long and winding road. PPA is making sure YOUR rights are protected by being a constant presence on Capitol Hill during these exciting months. Be sure to sign up and show your support (and share with all your friends!) at PPA.com/Grassroots. 

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Last week was a pretty crazy one on Capitol Hill (as they mostly are lately) and, lost in the shuffle, was the fact that the companion bill to H.R. 1695, the bill PPA's Grassroots Team lobbied to get through the House, has now been introduced in the Senate! 


"Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) today introduced the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act, which makes the Register of Copyrights a presidentially-appointed, Senate-confirmed position. This legislation is the Senate companion to H.R. 1695, which passed the House of Representatives last week by an overwhelming vote of 378 to 48.  It is the product of bicameral, bipartisan discussions led by these Senators and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers.

The Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act makes important changes to the selection process for the head of the U.S. Copyright Office, known as the Register of Copyrights.  Specifically, the legislation requires the Register to be nominated by the President of the United States and subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate.  It would limit the Register to a ten-year term that is renewable by another presidential nomination and Senate confirmation. The legislation would establish a panel consisting of Members of Congress and the Librarian of Congress to recommend at least three individuals to the President for the position. It would require that the Register be capable of identifying and supervising a Chief Information Officer or similar official responsible for managing information technology systems. Finally, the legislation clarifies that the mandatory deposit requirements for collection at the Library of Congress will remain the same.

Grassley, Feinstein, Leahy and Hatch look forward to working with the Senate Rules Committee on legislation to improve the selection process for the position of Register, and they remain committed to further efforts towards modernization of the Copyright Office.

Bill text is available HERE."

PPA will keep you updated every step along the way, as the Bill now goes to one of several Senate Committees vying for the chance to spearhead the Senate's changes to the House version of the bill.

Stay tuned and ready to activate by signing up for PPA's Grassroots Action Team at PPA.com/Grassroots!

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Professional Photographers of America celebrated the passage of H.R. 1695 (the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act), marking the first important step in the association's goal to modernize the U.S. copyright system. 

H.R. 1695 makes the Register of Copyrights, who leads the United States Copyright Office (USCO), a presidentially-appointed, Senate-confirmed position. HR 1695 gives the Register the autonomy to modernize the Copyright Office to suit the specialized needs of the copyright system. PPA has been activating its 30,000-member base to call or email their representatives in support of the bill. 

"So much effort went into this," says PPA CEO David Trust, "and everyone who took 30 seconds to submit their letters should feel proud about what we accomplished together. So, today is a day for smiles and congratulations. Tomorrow we start preparing for a much tougher fight in the Senate."

Cindi Marifield, President R2P Strategies, representing PPA in D.C. says, "It is fitting that on World Intellectual Property Day, the House overwhelmingly passed H.R. 1695, the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act.   There are not many bills that pass with overwhelming bi-partisan support these days (378 to 48) and it is a tribute to Chairman Goodlatte, Ranking Member Conyers, Congressman Doug Collins and Congresswoman Judy Chu and their staff who worked deliberately and effectively to pass this legislation.  This bill is a great first step toward bolstering the Copyright Office and we look forward to both Chambers taking up and passing legislation to create a small claims process for individual creators as efforts to modernize the Copyright Office heat up." 





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