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Results tagged “Copyright for Photographers” from PPA Today

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." 



Wednesday, April 26th

3:30pm 
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HR 1695 has passed through the House with overwhelming support! The vote was 378-48 and Rep. Chu was able to put in an ammendment favoring the Small Claims process. 

A big thanks to everyone who took the time to call or write your representative. This was a major victory in our fight for better copyright protection. 

Stay tuned for updates...


9:00am

pictured: Karyn Temple Claggett, acting Register of Copyright

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Happy World IP Day!  We kicked things off this morning with a Facebook Live video explaining World IP Day and how it aims to thank creative artists, photographers, graphic designers and all other creators for everything they do and how colorful they make the world! 

PPA also wants to take a moment and thank all of our wonderful members for making the world so much more beautiful! Besides the excitement of World IP Day in D.C, we are even more excited about H.R 1695. We have been told that it is still scheduled to be debated and voted on later this afternoon. In the meantime, it is important to continue to send letters and make phone calls reminding our representatives how important this bill is to creative artists and photographers! This is the first step in modernizing the copyright office, and will set the stage for small claims in the future.

PPA will be alternating celebrating World IP Day at the Library of Congress and meeting with Senator Dick Durbin (R-IL), Frank Cullen of the US Chamber of Commerce, Senator Deb Fisher (R-NE) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). It is imperative that we begin meeting with the Senate side to continue to prep members for H.R 1695 and lay the foundation for Small Claims. 

We will keep you updated throughout the day and hopefully have some great news for you before we leave D.C!

by Sidra Safri
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As you already know, PPA is making big push this week to get H.R. 1695 passed. The passage of H.R. 1695 would make the Register of Copyright a Presidential Appointment that would be vetted by the Senate both before and after being chosen. However, as with anything in D.C and on Capitol Hill, is it is always important to consider what would happen if H.R. 1695 does not pass.

If H.R. 1695 is unable to get the votes it needs tomorrow, the Register of Copyright would continue to answer to the Librarian of Congress. The Librarian of Congress and the Register of Copyrights have inherently opposing jobs. The Librarian is responsible for capturing a screen shot of society and being able to share it with everyone. On the other hand, the Register is responsible for making sure creators are being given their credit and compensation, which limits free-and-wide usage.  

The biggest setback if H.R. 1695 does not pass would be the difficulty modernization and Small Claims legislation would face. These goals would be significantly harder to achieve. Even if the Copyright Office is given a face-lift and is brought into the 21st century, able to hear disputes regarding copyright infringements, it would still answer to the Register of Copyright. Basically, all the "modernization" would be made for nothing. The librarian would still control what and how the register operates. This would be a huge setback considering that the Librarian does not have the same in-depth knowledge of copyright issues as the Register.

Not passing H.R. 1695 would make any and all work being put into the copyright office a waste. The good news is that PPA does believe that H.R. 1695 will pass. There is bi-partisan support for this bill and constant agreement that something needs to be done about the Copyright Office. Between the ancient workings of the Copyright Office and the abrupt removal of the Register in October of 2016, this is the momentum creative artists and photographers needs to get the House to pass H.R. 1695. 

Be sure to email and call your representative now! 

Professional Photographers of America and the Copyright Alliance Throw Support Behind HR 1695 on World IP Day. 

Bipartisan bill, currently in House, seeks to make Register of Copyrights a presidential appointee.  

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for copyright_Support-HR-1695.png(Atlanta, GA) April 24, 2017--Professional Photographers of America (PPA) and The Copyright Alliance will be in Washington D.C. on April 26, 2017 to attend the Copyright Matters program in the capitol, celebrating the 17th annual World IP Day. World Intellectual Property Day will feature panel discussions with several lawmakers and the artists directly affected by copyright issues. This year's celebration comes during a critical time, as PPA and the Copyright Alliance have announced their impassioned support of HR 1695, a bill meant to help strengthen copyright protections for visual artists across the United States. Visual artists include illustrators, graphic designers, artists, photographers, visual journalists, videographers, and others who create and license their works for the news media, magazines, advertising, books and other publications, consumer products, digital platforms, multimedia presentations, and broadcast. Typically, they are one-or-two-person businesses and small, family enterprises that not only create, but also are responsible for running all facets of a small business. PPA has been mobilizing its members and anyone who supports small businesses and the arts to contact their representative to support HR 1695 via letters and phone calls.


To help facilitate the marketplace for creative works, visual artists have long called for modernizing the U.S. Copyright Office (USCO). That goal is one step closer to reality with the introduction of HR 1695, the Register of Copyrights and Selection and Accountability Act, which would make the Register of Copyrights, who leads the USCO, a presidentially-appointed, Senate-confirmed position. The bill recently passed out of the House Judiciary Committee by the overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 27-1 and is supported by the Copyright Alliance, a coalition of 46 companies that includes the RIAA, Disney, and Professional Photographers of America. 

The U.S. Copyright Office, which resides in the Library of Congress, maintains copyright registration and recordation databases upon which creators, licensees, users and consumers depend, but which have become outdated. Indeed, despite repeated calls by former Registers for reform, including releasing the most forward-looking IT plan in the Office's history, the USCO has been unable to modernize because it lacks the autonomy to do so. The Office's efforts have been frustrated as it is housed within the Library of Congress where it competes with many other Library priorities for resources, technology and staff. This arrangement may have worked in the past, but the creative economy now contributes $1.2 trillion to the U.S. GDP and supports 5.5 million jobs. PPA and the Copyright Alliance believe that HR 1695 would give the Register the autonomy to modernize the Copyright Office to suit the specialized needs of the copyright system. HR 1695 would also elevate the office of the Register to a stature commensurate with the economic sector to which the duties of the Office are so critical. 

The U.S. Copyright Office also has a policy mission, statutorily acting as Congress' impartial advisor on copyright law and policy. Historically, that Office has been a resource to Congress, providing counsel on issues large and small. This is particularly important for individual creators and small businesses, for without this dedicated "think tank," Congress might not hear the plight of creators, like photographers,  on critical issues such as how to handle copyright infringement claims too small to justify the expense of undertaking a federal law suit. PPA and the Copyright Alliance believe that the U.S. Copyright Office must have the autonomy necessary to continue its vital advisory role to Congress and a presidential appointee position would make this a reality.

Some critics of the legislation have suggested that elevating the Register is an attempt to "give more power to Hollywood". Without a doubt, the USCO's technological shortcomings affect visual artists far more than movie studios and record labels. For instance, Variety reported that 563 movies were released in 2014 by the entire movie industry, which is a relatively small number of copyrights to register for an entire year. By contrast, a single photographer can take well over 500 photos in one session, and may create as many as 50,000 individual photographs per year. Further, unlike large entertainment companies, these artists, like photographers do not have the luxury of in-house professionals who can dedicate their time to navigating the complexities of the registration process. As a result, many visual artists forgo registration, which then makes defending one's rights in court a virtual impossibility. Put another way, the U.S. Copyright Office's problems represent a de facto regressive tax--the smaller the creator, the more adversely they are impacted.

PPA and the Copyright Alliance will use the timing of the World IP Day festivities to place a spotlight on HR 1695. It is their belief that, especially with public attention turned toward copyright matters, Congress should take an important first step towards fixing these problems and pass HR 1695. By ensuring the Register has the autonomy necessary to begin implementing operational reforms and continuing to provide impartial advice, visual artists and all creators will be able to continue creating works that contribute to the American economy and help shape our society in the digital age. 

About PPA:
Professional Photographers of America (PPA) is the largest international nonprofit association created by professional photographers, for professional photographers. Almost as long-lived as photography itself, PPA's roots date back to 1869. It assists nearly 30,000 members through protection, education and resources for their continued success. See how PPA helps photographers be more at PPA.com/BeMore.

About the Copyright Alliance:
The Copyright Alliance is the unified voice of the copyright community, representing the interests of thousands of individuals and organizations across the spectrum of copyright disciplines. The Copyright Alliance is dedicated to advocating policies that promote and preserve the value of copyright, and to protecting the rights of creators and innovators.

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Sometimes in order to get to your final destination, there are a few things that need to be done along the way. This is one of those things. PPA has been concentrating on Copyright Small Claims lately, but there's a bill in the House of Representatives that needs our attention now!

H.R 1695 allows the position of Register of Copyrights to become a presidential appointee. This ensures that someone with ample knowledge of the copyright world leads the office in an unbiased manner, as it begins to undergo the modernization process. This change will also guarantee the office is able to serve all creative artists the way it was designed to. Making sure the office takes a step in the right direction will not be possible without YOU! 

Please take 30 seconds and click here to send a letter to your representative or click here to give them a call! PPA has done the scripting and writing for you, so no worries. It's time to pass this legislation!

UPDATE: 
Since we have put out this call to action, certain districts across the country have called saying they are unable to send a letter or make a call to their representatives. This is because their district currently does not have a representative and we are waiting for the results of their special elections. The following is a list of states/districts that are going to be affected by this, and the dates of the elections:

Special Elections (House)

  • Kansas 4th District- just had elections on April 11th and will take some time to set up office and contact information. 
  • Entire State of Montana- Only has one representative and their election is on May 25th
  • California 34th District- Just had election April 4th and will take some time to set up office and contact information
  • Georgia 6th- Election is April 18th 
  • South Carolina 5th- Election is May 2nd
  • Pennsylvania 10th- Election is TBD


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Guest post by Tom Kennedy, Lara Kisielewska, Akili-Casundria Ramsess, Juliette Wolf-Robin, and David Trust.

Most everyone knows the phrase "a picture is worth a thousand words." It captures the notion that one image can instantly convey complex ideas and world events, changing how we think individually and as societies. For instance, who could forget the picture of an American sailor kissing a woman in Times Square, which expressed the elation, joy and excitement of the nation as World War II came to an end. And the 1989 image of a lone protestor standing before oncoming tanks in Tiananmen Square still resonates deeply today. In both cases, visual artists--who depend on strong copyright protections to make a living--captured those iconic images. 

Visual artists include illustrators, graphic designers, artists, photographers, visual journalists, videographers, and others who create and license their works for the news media, magazines, advertising, books and other publications, consumer products, digital platforms, multimedia presentations, and broadcast. Typically, they are one-or-two-person businesses and small family enterprises that not only create, but are responsible for running all facets of a small business.

To help facilitate the marketplace for creative works, visual artists have long called for modernizing the US Copyright Office. That's why we strongly support HR 1695, the Register of Copyrights and Selection and Accountability Act, which would make the Register of Copyrights, who leads the USCO, a presidentially appointed, Senate confirmed position. The bill recently passed out of the House Judiciary Committee by the overwhelming bipartisan vote of 27-1.

The Copyright Office, which resides in the Library of Congress, maintains copyright registration and recordation databases upon which creators, licensees, users and consumers depend, but which are sadly outdated. Indeed, despite repeated calls by former Registers for reform, including releasing the most forward looking IT plan in the Office's history, it has been unable to modernize because it lacks the autonomy to do so. The Office's efforts have been frustrated because it resides in the Library of Congress where it competes with many other Library priorities for resources, technology and staff. This arrangement may have worked in the past, but the creative economy now contributes $1.2 trillion to GDP and supports 5.5 million jobs. The Register must be given the autonomy to modernize the Office to suit the specialized needs of the copyright system. And it is appropriate that the office of the Register be elevated to a stature commensurate with the economic sector to which the duties of the Office are so critical.

The Office also has an important policy mission, statutorily acting as Congress' impartial advisor on copyright law and policy. Historically, the Copyright Office has been an invaluable resource to the Congress, providing expert counsel on issues large and small. This is particularly important for individual creators and small businesses, for without this dedicated "think tank," Congress might not hear the plight of our creative members on critical issues such as how to handle copyright infringement claims too small to justify the expense of a federal law suit. The Copyright Office must have the autonomy necessary to continue its vital advisory role to Congress.

Some critics of the legislation have suggested that elevating the Register is an attempt to "give more power to Hollywood"--something we in the visual arts community find puzzling. Without a doubt, the Copyright Office's technological shortcomings affect visual artists far more than movie studios and record labels. For instance, Variety reported that 563 movies were released in 2014 by the entire movie industry, which is a relatively small number of copyrights to register for an entire year. By contrast, a single photographer can take over 500 photos in one shoot, and may create as many as 50,000 individual photographs per year. Further, unlike large entertainment companies, we don't have the luxury of in-house professionals who can dedicate their time to navigating the complexities of the registration process. As a result, many visual artists forego registration, which then makes defending one's rights in court a virtual impossibility. Put another way, the Copyright Office's problems are a de facto regressive tax--the smaller the creator, the more adversely they are impacted.

Congress should swiftly pass HR 1695, thereby taking an important first step towards fixing these problems. By ensuring the Register has the autonomy necessary to begin implementing operational reforms and continuing to provide impartial advice, Congress will help ensure that visual artists and all creators can continue creating works that contribute to our economy and help shape our society in the digital age.

Tom Kennedy is the Executive Director of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP). Lara Kisielewska is the President of the Graphic Artists Guild (GAG). Akili-Casundria Ramsess is the Executive Director of the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA). Juliette Wolf-Robin is the National Executive Director of the American Photographic Artists (APA). And David Trust is the CEO of the Professional Photographers of America (PPA).

by Sidra Safri
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Many members have asked, "What good will come from making the Register of Copyright a presidential appointee and how would this make the process less political?" These are great questions with a slightly complex answer. 

Currently, the Copyright Office is housed in the Library of Congress with the Librarian of Congress as the head decision maker. The Librarian is appointed by the President for a 10-year term. The Library and the Librarian's role is to capture a screen shot of society and have it readily available to everyone with no regard to credit or compensation. 

On the other hand, the Copyright Office and the Register's role is to protect copyright, provide and review registration, and advise Congress on copyright law and policy. With this in mind, one can see that the Library of Congress and the Copyright Office are at odds with what they do. Making the Register of Copyright a presidential appointee is the first step in giving the Copyright Office some autonomy to effectively do what they were created for. 

Further, an added protection to ensure this does not become a highly politicized appointment, is that whoever is appointed is done so with the advice and consent of Congress. Since Congress would be relying on the Register so heavily it would ensure someone with ample knowledge and experience would be appointed. 

For these reasons, PPA asks you to support H.R 1695 and take the first step in modernizing the Copyright Office. Send a letter to your representative or call them NOW

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PPA's partners at the Copyright Alliance have put together a great blog post, giving a counterpoint to misconceptions about HR 1695. Read and share now! 

The myths are:  

  • MYTH #1: It's "mystifying" why congress would prefer a Presidentially appointed Register of Copyrights to one appointed by the Librarian of Congress.
  • MYTH #2: A Presidentially appointed Register will become "more concerned with policy than modernization".
  • MYTH #3: This bill is an attempt to take power away from Dr. Hayden and give it to President Trump. 
  • MYTH #4: Making the Register a Presidential appointee will politicize the position.
  • MYTH #5: There isn't time to wait for a presidential appointee. A "new and qualified" Register must be appointed right away.
  • MYTH #6: A 10-year term would make the Register "less accountable to Congress and the public."
After you dig deeper into these myths and the reasons they're just that, be sure to have everyone you know lend their voice in support of HR 1695! Use PPA's pre-written messages and call or write your representative.  

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There's a great new copyright blog out there, Copyright Creativity at Work, and guess what...it's from the U.S. Copyright Office! The U.S. Copyright Office is really stepping up their game in an effort to share their activities with the public. This is fantastic news for PPA and supporters of copyright law reform, as it makes the Copyright Office more open and transparent while we embark on the modernization process. 

The blog is great and very well maintained so far, with article updates when court cases pertaining to copyright take place. The blog intends to explore "a wide variety of copyright-related topics, including special project updates, interesting copyright court cases and case law, current copyright issues, current events, historical facts, copyright myths, trivia, communications about current and developing Office services, fun facts, and responses to copyright interest suggested by our customers."

Along with the blog, the Copyright Office launched its updated website. The site's redesign is also a great step in the right direction, making for a more organized, more responsive, and easier-to-navigate user experience.

Read all about the changes and how to use the new site here. 

Don't forget, while you're diving deep into the world of copyright law, you still need to sign up to support PPA's legislative efforts at PPA.com/Grassroots. 

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