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Read the official statement in full below:
Professional Photographers of America and Other Photographic Associations Settle Litigation With Google
Agreement ends four years of litigation over the inclusion of visual works in Google Books
NEW YORK, NY - Professional Photographers of America (PPA) and a group of photographers, visual artists and affiliated associations have reached a settlement with Google in a lawsuit over copyrighted material in Google Books. The parties are pleased to have reached a settlement that benefits everyone and includes funding for the PLUS Coalition, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping rights holders and users communicate clearly and efficiently about rights in works. Further terms of the agreement are confidential.
The agreement resolves a copyright infringement lawsuit filed against Google in April, 2010, bringing to an end more than four years of litigation. It does not involve any admission of liability by Google. As the settlement is between the parties to the litigation, the court is not required to approve its terms. This settlement does not affect Google's current litigation with the Authors Guild or otherwise address the underlying questions in that suit.
The plaintiffs in the case are rights holder associations and individual visual artists. The associational plaintiffs are The American Society of Media Photographers, Inc., Graphic Artists Guild, PACA (Digital Media Licensing Association)., North American Nature Photography Association, Professional Photographers of America, National Press Photographers Association, and American Photographic Artists. The individual plaintiffs are Leif Skoogfors, Al Satterwhite, Morton Beebe, Ed Kashi, John Schmelzer, Simms Taback and Gail Kuenstler Taback Living Trust, Leland Bobbé, John Francis Ficara, and David W. Moser.
The case is American Society of Media Photographers, Inc. et al. v. Google Inc., Case No. 10-CV-02977 (DC) pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
About Google Inc. and Associational Parties
Google is a global technology leader focused on improving the ways people connect with information. Google's innovations in web search and advertising have made its website a top Internet property and its brand one of the most recognized in the world.
Professional Photographers of America (PPA) represents more than 27,000 photographers and photographic artists from dozens of specialty areas including portrait, wedding, commercial, advertising and art.
Founded in 1944, The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) is the premier trade association for the world's most respected photographers.
The Graphic Artists Guild (GAG) is a national union of graphic artists dedicated to promoting and protecting the social, economic and professional interests of its members and for all graphic artists including, animators, cartoonists, designers, illustrators, and digital artists.
PACA (Digital Media Licensing Association) is a trade association established in 1951 whose members include more than 80 companies representing the world of digital content licensing.
NANPA, the North American Nature Photography Association, is the first and premiere association in North America committed solely to serving the field of nature photography.
Founded in 1946 the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) is the "voice of visual journalists" promoting and defending the rights of photographers and journalists, including freedom of the press in all its forms.
The American Photographic Artists (APA) is a leading national organization run by and for professional photographers.
Google is a trademark of Google Inc. All other company and product names may be trademarks of the respective companies with which they are associated.
PPA CEO David Trust goes up to Washington whenever he can to meet with people like Howard Coble (R-NC) to advocate for photographers' copyrights. But that doesn't mean that the action stops when he returns to Atlanta. Now that PPA partners with the Nickles Group, PPA is more active and knowledgeable than ever before.
With these new abilities (thanks Nickles Group!), we can let you know who is saying what to whom and where. That being said; here's the latest scoop from the Hill!
The House Judiciary Committee recently held a copyright hearing with several testimonies from experts. Here's three of those testimonies and what it means for photographers!
1). All artists benefit from copyright advocacy! We got a good example with Rick Carnes, of the Songwriters Guild of America, arguing for a balance between fair use of works and protection for high volume producers. He stood by the current fair use doctrine that is in place in Title 17 of the U.S. Code which dictates the non-infringing uses of copyrighted works. However, he also advocated for workable remedies for small claims when copyrighted works are stolen. Ideally, this could mean for photographers that they wouldn't have to go to federal court and be required to have (very costly) legal representation.
2). Remember the 70 years post-mortem, 120 years post-creation, or 95 years post-publication rules for copyright protection? Michael Carroll, a professor at American University Washington College of Law, argued that the current copyright term should not be extended further. Thomas Sydnor, of the American Enterprise Institute, agreed, and finds that there is little to no benefit in continuing to extend the copyright term in regards to small, medium, or large businesses.
Over the last fifty years, the copyright term has been extended. Most notably it has been extended whenever the copyright for Mickey Mouse is about to enter the public domain. Would anyone like to guess who is behind this? That's right, Disney. The Hollywood and Disney lobby have poured huge amounts of money into ensuring the extension of the copyright term over the last fifty years.
The bearings that this has on photographers are non-particular. Meaning, anyone who has ever owned a copyright is affected by this change in the same way. Once you die, your dictated heir is not going have entitlements to the copyright(s) for as long. While this is non-particular to photographers, the fact that this discussion has made headway in the legal debate represents a dramatic shift away from what is known as the Disney Curve. The Disney Curve has dominated the extension of the copyright term with the sole intent of keeping the figure of Mickey Mouse out of the public domain. If the status quo on this were to change, it would represent one of the greatest fundamental shifts in copyright policy in the last 50 years
3). Karyn Clagget, of the U.S. Copyright Office, thoroughly argued that visual artists should be able to receive compensation relative to the increase in value over time as opposed to a mere flat rate. For photographers, this would mean that as your work grows in value, you'd be compensated accordingly. Royalty claims can be made with the proper contracts on anything created with a copyright. For more information on how you can control royalties, review our limited usage contract under Copyright Resources on our website!
The House of Representatives Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet heard another round of testimonials addressing the need to remedy current issues within the Copyright Law (and there are many). Here's how this hearing relates to our members:
1). Longtime PPA friend Steven Tepp, of Sentinel Worldwide, made the case that there were significant problems in the current copyright remedies legal environment. He argued for higher available statutory damages, since awarded damages are currently at a historical low point. He also argued for harsher penalties that could function better as a preventative measure as well as a higher top-end of possible monetary compensation for infringement cases.
This goes along with the availability for small claims courts for copyright cases. Though, instead of focusing on the methods of how damages are acquired, Tepp choose to spoke about altering the available results for whichever court might make a ruling on this. Remember though, the small claims court doesn't exist (yet). Let's hope his testimonial opened some eyes and ears on the Hill.
2). Nancy Wolff, partner at Cowan, Debaets, Abrahams & Shepard LLP, supported the U.S. Copyright Office's report on small claims recommendations. In support of this report, she argued for the ability to bring small claims cases to a court without the need of expensive legal representation and a procedure that lowers the plaintiffs' expenses relating to any sort of legal action.
Both Tepp and Wolff are attempting to streamline legal processes for high volume visual artists like photographers. Too often times, infringed-upon artists can do very little simply because it quickly becomes cost-prohibitive to pursue legal action, even if your business has been damaged. Hopefully, these testimonies will help our U.S. Representatives understand that things do need to change!
The above testimonies and arguments contribute to enlightening those who can make these changes and will help shape the way new copyright laws are made. Each testimony is a small piece of the giant puzzle that is a Law being passed. We'll keep you updated anytime we hear more from Washington!
We've (finally) got an update on the Walmart v. Huff case! Brush up on the story below first if you need a refresher.
At a recent case management hearing, the judge set the trial for the trial term beginning April 6, 2015 and ending April 30. This doesn't necessarily mean the case will go to trial April 6, just that the case is set to be tried sometime during that term.
Read the full story:
Your typical copyright infringement involves one photographer stealing another photographer's images, or reproducing copyrighted images without permission. But in this case, it's the largest retailer in the world bullying a small Arkansas studio.
Walmart and its founding family, the Waltons, have filed suit against Helen Huff, the widow of
Arkansas photographer David A. Huff.
David Huff's studio, Bob's Studio of Photography, was founded by his late father, Robert A. Huff, in 1946, and created portraits of the Walton family before the expansion of Walmart grew them into one of the wealthiest families in the world. But now Walmart and the Walton family are demanding that Helen Huff hand over those works.
The complaint states that they (the Waltons) seek to obtain six or more boxes of photos, negatives, and proofs, alleging that over the years, Bob's Studio retained those items "as a courtesy" to Walmart and their family (they didn't). The complaint further states that the Waltons own intellectual property rights to the photos (they don't). The fact is, under federal law, photographers own the copyrights to their own works.
PPA has been working with Huff to support her case and thereby advocate for photographers' copyrights.
"If there were ever a David vs. Goliath situation, this is it" says PPA CEO David Trust. "We simply can't remain idle and allow this to happen--it would set a terrible precedent. In our opinion, this obviously is a violation of copyright law and it is beyond question that Ms. Huff owns the photographs and if the Waltons want the photographs, they should pay for them. PPA as an association stands behind Ms. Huff and supports her case as the rightful owner of these images. We have contacted her lawyers and offered to file an amicus brief* when and if that time comes."
*What's an amicus brief, you ask? It's is a legal opinion or testimony that is volunteered by a "friend of the court" who is not a party to a particular lawsuit but has a strong interest in the case. It is a way to introduce concerns ensuring that the possibly broad legal effects of a court decision will not depend solely on the parties directly involved in the case.
PPA also advised Huff and her attorney of a separate suit, Natkin v. Winfrey, in which Oprah Winfrey claimed she owned the rights to photos of her created on her set. Since the photographers were hired as independent contractors and had not signed work-for-hire contracts, they owned the full copyrights for the images, and Winfrey's argument was swiftly rejected by the court.
Walmart filed its lawsuit against Helen Huff in state court, but because it is a copyright issue, Huff's defense removed it to federal court. The defense argues in its answer to the Walmart complaint that Huff owns copyrights to all the works her late husband and father-in-law created for the Walton family, and that they worked as independent contractors for the Walton family. In addition, Huff's defense filed a counterclaim of copyright infringement, alleging that in the past Walmart has reproduced and allowed third parties to use Bob's Studio of Photography's copyrighted works. Huff and her attorney are awaiting Walmart's answer.
UPDATED 5/21: Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove issued a statement this afternoon:
As you can imagine, many of the photos go back many years and commemorate the history, heritage and culture of our company. We believe that some of the photos that Bob's Studio has belong to Walmart. All we want is for the court to make it clear who rightfully owns these photographs. We tried very hard to resolve this without involving the courts. We never wanted the issue to reach this point and we've done everything possible to avoid this.
PPA always stands for photographers' copyright protection. As such, we will continue to provide information as these cases develop. Check back for updates!
PPA's CEO David Trust is in Washington D.C. shaking hands and talking photography with legislators to keep things moving toward new copyright law. He's out there in the trenches for you all! Told you we've got your back!
He'll be passing along updates over the next couple of days which we will post here as a sort of semi-live, "PPA on the Copyright Frontlines" diary.
And look for a recap after he returns to HQ here in Atlanta!
Monday, July 7, 1:26 p.m.
Just had a great meeting with Gayle Osterberg, Director of Communications for the Library of Congress. She reiterated the importance and popularity of the photography collections at the Library. She also presented some good ideas about how PPA can work more proactively with the Library to help educate Congress about the photographic industry. Gayle is a longtime friend of PPA and industry supporter. It's good to have an ally like her working for PPA members!
Monday, July 7, 5:50 p.m.
Had a great meeting this afternoon with Jennifer Choudhry, Legislative Director for Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia. Collins is rapidly becoming the voice of Copyright on Capitol Hill and has been very aggressive in promoting and defending creator rights--not just in Georgia but across the country. The fact that PPA headquarters in downtown Atlanta is in such close proximity to Collins' district (about 45 minutes north of Atlanta) is a plus. Look for more news in the future--we have some special plans brewing for the pro-copyright congressman.
Tuesday, July 8, 8:58 a.m.
We have a busy day planned today on Capitol Hill: Five copyright meetings scheduled with members of Congress from Pennsylvania, New York, Texas, California, and North Carolina and a lunch with David Whitney, Chief Counsel for the House Subcommittee on Intellectual Property. It is very hot here, but will be a great day as PPA works to advance the cause of photographers in Washington D.C.
[Don't forget you can contact your local legislator too!]
Tuesday, July 8, 4:42 p.m.
Met with Congressman Howard Coble (R-6th North Carolina) to discuss the House Judiciary copyright review. Mr. Coble is a key player in legislation related to copyright as he is the current Chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee on Intellectual Property as well as the Co-Chair of the Creative Rights Caucus. David artfully made the case for a balanced view of copyright to ensure that the voices of the small businesses and solo-practitioners in the creative community, such as photographers, are heard.
Tuesday, July 8, 5:19 p.m.
David Trust converses with PPA consultant Cindi Tripodi, partner with the Nickles Group, outside of the Capitol after a successful day of Hill meetings.