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Big Day for U.S. Copyright Law and Advocacy on Capitol Hill
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Two Proposed Reforms Led by Professional Photographers of America (PPA) and Backed by Creative Rights Caucus and Visual Arts Alliance Hit the House of Representatives' Floor

by James Yates

Atlanta, GA (December 8, 2016) - Major ground was broken on two fronts in Washington D.C. in regards to long-awaited changes in U.S. copyright law. First, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) released the first policy proposal to come out of the committee's review of U.S. Copyright law.  According to a released statement, the policy proposal includes "granting the Copyright Office autonomy with respect to the Library of Congress, requiring the [U.S. Copyright] Office to maintain an up-to-date digital, searchable database of all copyrighted works and associated copyright ownership information, and many others reforms" including a small claims process for copyright infringement.  On that latter subject, the policy proposal states, "The Copyright Office should host a small claims system consistent with the report on the issue released by the Copyright Office.  The small claims system should handle low value infringement cases as well as bad faith Section 512 notices.  The Register should be given the authority to promulgate regulations to ensure that the system works efficiently."

Meanwhile, also in the House, Representative Judy Chu (D-Ca.) and Co-Sponsor Lamar Smith (R-Tx.) have introduced the "Fairness for America's Small Creators Act", a "small claims bill" that would make it possible for small business image creators (i.e. professional photographers) to take advantage of the U.S. copyright system for the first time since its inception.  This small claims bill would provide creators with an effective remedy to protect their works, and make sure that they are paid for what they produce.  The bill establishes a tribunal made of two attorneys with extensive intellectual property (IP) and/or copyright backgrounds and a third arbitrator familiar with U.S. Copyright law, who would oversee the new small claims process for infringement remedies. 

In the U.S., Copyright claims have traditionally only been allowed to be filed in person in federal court.  The "Fairness for America's Small Creators Act" allows for those whose work has been infringed to file a claim online and the corresponding hearings will be held via video conference without the requirement of an attorney.  Under the "Fairness for America's Small Creators Act", copyright claims can be filed without prior registration with the Copyright Office; However, registration must be completed before the tribunal gives their decision.  The cost for this process is set to be kept to a minimum, but is still being decided on at this time. The maximum recovery amount is set at $30,000, ensuring that small creators have a place to remedy their copyright infringements, but also preventing the tribunal process from being clogged.  Those who wish to pursue their copyright claim in federal court may still do so, and it will be noted that the parties opted out of the small claims option.

"The New Year couldn't get off to a greater start for professional photographers and other visual artists," says PPA CEO, David Trust. "These are two giant announcements. The reform of the U.S. Copyright Office, including modernization of the office and the registration processes, has been one of PPA's biggest advocacy issues over the past 10 years.  The current one-size-fits-all registration system simply doesn't work for professional photographers.  This didn't matter as much, however, because of the lack of a small claims process.  Now, in one day, we have movement on both issues.  Just as important as the introduction of Representative Chu's small claims bill, is the statement released by Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers.  It's an indication that they really want to get this done. December 8, 2016 will stay as a big day for U.S. Copyright Law!"

The timing, a flurry of activity all seemingly in one day, coincides with the end of this Congress's 2016 lame-duck session.  PPA will continue to work with the incoming Congress and actively engage with House members as it also mobilizes its 30,000 photographer members to reach out to their respective Representatives and lend their support to this new piece of legislation in 2017.  

About PPA:
Professional Photographers of America (PPA) is the largest international non-profit 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 and sustainable success. See how PPA helps photographers be more at PPA.com/BeMore.





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By Sidra Safri 
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Yesterday, we reported on how great our Creative Caucus Briefing went. Your PPA Advocacy team can now report that the rest of the day was one success after another. The meeting with Representative Nadler (D-NY) was fantastic. During the meeting we even realized that Anne Geddes (Panelist for CRC), her husband Kel, and Rebecca Blake (Graphic Artist Guild) were all constituents of Representative Nadler! Representative Nadler has always been open to listening to why small claims legislation is necessary, but it is even better when it comes from someone who lives in his district...and we had THREE! Representative Nadler was very appreciative and wants us to keep him up-to-date about any developments on small claims. We hope that as time goes on and a bill is finally introduced, we will have the support of Representative Nadler.

After meeting with Representative Nadler, we made our way to Representative Lamar Smith's (R-TX) office. It was great to be able to touch base with him and have him talk to Anne Geddes about the importance of a small claims bill. This meeting was very productive and gave Rep. Smith direct insight into the importance of small claims copyright protection, and how both small businesses and the famously successful are impacted by infringement. We know that Representative Smith is an advocate for small business and copyright and hope that he will be ready to support the small claims bill when it is introduced!
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Today we have another action-filled day. We have four meetings back-to-back, and we are going to cover a lot of ground. Since there is so much going on, we have our friends from the Visual Arts Coalition joining us in these meetings. As the saying goes, "There is power in numbers!" If every single member of all seven organizations signed up for the Grassroots Action Team we would be 50,000 members strong! Image the impact that would have on Capitol Hill! Remember, it is now more important than ever for you to sign up and join the Grassroots Action Team and make a change!

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by Sidra Safri
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2:30 pm
We just got done with our Creative Rights Caucus event and we have to say... it was a GREAT SUCCESS! Staffers loved the opportunity to meet with our entire panel and hear about their journey through photography. Representatives Chu and Collins were present and eager to share the importance of small claims copyright protection and small business in general. Everyone who attended was extremely impressed with the event and have asked us to follow up with them in the future. We believe this event left a great impression about Small Claims with the attendees, highlighting why it is so important.

After we clean up the event, we are taking our wonderful panelists, along with other members of the Visual Arts Coalition, to an impromptu meeting with Representative Jerrold Nadler of NY. Representative Nadler is interested in hearing about Small Claims protection and why it is so important to visual artists.
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After Representative Nadler, we are meeting with Representative Lamar Smith. Since Representative Smith has always been a champion for small business and Small Claims, we have to make sure we stop by and share our appreciation with him every time we come to DC!

There is plenty going on between now and tomorrow so stay tuned! Don't forget: encourage everyone you know to sign up and lend their support to the cause of Copyright Small Claims! 
By Sidra Safri 
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12:30 pm 
PPA is back in Washington D.C. for one of the most exciting trips yet! Yesterday's summit with the Visual Arts Coalition was a great success. This Coalition is made up of seven members including American Photographic Artists (APA), American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), Digital Media Licensing Association (DMLA), Graphic Artists Guild (GAG), National Press Photographers of America (NPPA), Photographic Licensing Universal System (PLUS) and Professional Photographers of America (PPA). This summit occurs once a year to check in on making progress for the rights of creative artists.

While there, the Coalition discussed the status of the small claims bill, and the removal of Maria Pallante as Register of Copyrights for the Library of Congress. Members of the coalition are just as upset as PPA and we all hope that some change is made to benefit the copyright office. 

During our summit we also had the opportunity to talk to Keith Kupferschmid of the Copyright Alliance and Rob Kasunic of the Copyright Office. Both meetings gave us great insight into the direction the Library of Congress is heading in and gives us plenty of hope for the success of small claims. However, we know that small claims is still going to be something we must fight for. Hearing Rob and Keith speak reminded everyone how important it is, now more than ever, to make sure you're signed up for the Grassroots Action Team and your voice can be heard!

We are getting ready for the Creative Right Caucus now, with Representatives Chu and Smith. Everyone is excited to hear Denis Reggie, Michael Grecco, and Anne Geddes speak about their journeys through photography. More updates to come soon!


By Sidra Safri 
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Your PPA Advocacy team is heading to D.C today for a very busy and exciting week, beginning with the Visual Coalition Summit tomorrow. This will give PPA an opportunity to make sure everyone in the Visual Artist Coalition is on the same page for Copyright Small Claims, and talk about a few other things important to Visual Artists.

Wednesday will be the Creative Rights Caucus event. This will give PPA the opportunity to show members on Capitol Hill the importance of Small Claims and the impact it can have on small businesses, especially those in the photography and graphic artists' world. This is also one of the few opportunities to reach the mass amount of staffers and members on Capitol Hill and share your stories. During this briefing, Anne Geddes, Denis Reggie, and Michael Grecco will share their journeys in becoming a photographer, including the education, time and investment they had to make to be where they are today. They will also touch on the importance of a small claims process for copyright protection and how it is necessary to all creative artists.

Following the CRC event we have meetings lined up to help us reinforce the necessity of small claims. These meetings will be attended by PPA and other members of the Visual Coalition. Attending these meetings in a larger number shows the importance and impact a small claims copyright bill will have.

Stay tuned throughout the week for further updates. And be sure to SIGN UP to lend your name and voice in support of our efforts to improve copyright protection for artists. 

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by James Yates

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Your PPA Advocacy team will be in Washington D.C. next week to join the Creative Rights Caucus for a "lunch and learn" event to be held on Wednesday, December 7th, 2016 at 12pm. 

"The Art of Photography: Behind the Lens" will be a chance for House members to gather and learn about the importance of modernizing and strengthening copyright protection for small business creators. Creative Rights Caucus co-chairs, Representatives Judy Chu and Doug Collins, will present panelists giving their stories of how they established themselves, their current challenges with infringement and the lack of remedy for photographers who are infringed upon, highlighting the need for a small claims process within the current U.S. copyright system. 

The panel will be moderated by PPA CEO, David Trust, and will include: 

Anne Geddes - renowned photographer known for capturing the purity and innocence of children, Anne became successful in 1992 when she first published a greeting card collection in New Zealand, eventually leading to calendars which would be sold internationally. She specializes in capturing the beauty, purity, and vulnerability of children, while emphasizing that each child must be "protected, nurtured, and loved". She is responsible for the photographs of children dressed up as various flora and fauna that are seen worldwide. Anne has dealt with international copyright infringement on various levels, therefore understanding how important a small claims process is to photographers. 

Michael Grecco - internationally renowned celebrity portrait and commercial photographer, Michael is a multiple-award-winning industry leader best known for his iconic celebrity portraits and visionary magazine covers, editorials, and advertising spreads for NBC/Universal, GA, Pfizer, HBO, Kodak, ABC, IBM, Yahoo!, ESPN, and more. His distinguished work is regularly featured in prestigious galleries such as Louis Stern, G.Ray Hawkins, Stephen Cohen and Fahey Klein. Michael understands the impact an image can have on society and believes it is important to give credit where credit is due, which can be insured through a small claims process.

Denis Reggie - hailed by Town & Country as "The Great Wedding Photographer of Our Day", Denis got his start as a student at Tulane University, where he took photographs for the yearbook and local newspaper. From there he made his jump to wedding photography, when he realized how posed and unnatural many wedding photos tended to look. As his popularity grew, he had the opportunity to photograph various Kennedy Family weddings, among other Hollywood stars. Denis understands the hard work and skill it takes to capture the true beauty in a photograph, and believes that all photographers, big and small, should be given their credit. Without receiving his rightful credit, Denis would not be where he is today, and therefore is an avid advocate for small claims.

At the end of the event, the professional panelists will help House members discover how to take the "perfect selfie" It's expected to be a fun, yet informative and important, meeting on the Hill.

This event has been planned in accordance to House and Senate Gift Rules by the Creative Rights Caucus in partnership with American Photographic Artists (APA), American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), Digital Media Licensing Association (DMLA), Graphic Artists Guild (GAG), National Press Photographers of America (NPPA), Photographic Licensing Universal System (PLUS) and Professional Photographers of America (PPA).

To learn more about PPA's efforts to fight for better copyrights, head to PPA.com/Advocacy and don't forget to join PPA.com/Grassroots to add your name to the list of supporters. 

by Sidra Safri
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3pm
Today has been an action packed day! Many Congressional offices are just as concerned as we are with the removal of Maria Pallante from her post as Register of Copyrights and want to make sure Intellectual Property issues continue to be championed. Sharing similar sentiments was the office of Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT). Senator Hatch has been a huge advocate for intellectual property issues, including small claims protection. 
 
When they heard about the removal of Maria Pallante, Hatch's office was just shocked as PPA. They stated that this abrupt removal gives Congress all the more reason to look into Small Claims and the separation of the Copyright Office from the Library of Congress. However, since the next few months will be busy with the transition of a new administration, Copyright Small Claims is going to be a slow process...but one that is needed! 
 
After talking with Senator Hatch's office for about 45 minutes, we hope that they will continue to champion the rights of small creators and go on to endorse small claims when the time comes. 
 
After meeting with Senator's Hatch's office, we had the opportunity have a joint meeting with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). Both offices understand the need for a small claims option, but know that this is going to be an uphill battle. With the many changes that are occurring (including preparing for a new administration), it is important to focus on our long term goals. During this meeting we also talked about how important it is to have a grassroots effort to make sure that the voice of the people is heard.  As PPA's CEO David Trust stated during this meeting, "It is now important, more than ever, to make sure that Congress does the right thing, and protects small businesses and creative artists." 
 
This was a great start to our outreach in the Senate, and we hope to continue to visit with key members of both the House and Senate. Luckily, there were not any major changes in the leadership within the Intellectual Property world since the last election, clearing the way for our efforts to ensure that small claims legislation becomes a success!
 
And, as always, don't forget to sign up for the Grassroots Action Team and make sure your voice is heard!


11:30
Your PPA team is back in D.C., attending meetings with key members of congress who hold small business, small claims and intellectual property issues in high regard.

Today, we're with the Senate and our first meeting was with Senator Risch's office. Senator Risch (R-ID) holds IP issues very close to his heart and wants to make sure small businesses succeed. The senator's office shared with us that many photographers are on his staff and his constituents are active creative artists who understand how important a small claims copyright process can be. Even though our meeting with Senator Risch's office was fairly quick, we are hoping that he will join us in fixing the injustice facing small business photographers and creative artists. 


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by Sidra Safri

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4:30 pm

Our first meeting for the day was with Representative Judy Chu's office. We discussed details of the Small Claims bill and got a good idea of some of the working language that is now going into the bill. We know the introduction of the Small Claims bill is taking longer than we originally thought, but making sure it is able to best serve creative artists is key. We want to thank Representative Chu's office for all their hard work and for being an advocate for the Creative Artists.

Next, we had the opportunity to meet with acting Register of the Copyright Office and Director of Copyright, Karyn Claggett. This meeting was important, as it allowed PPA to see how the Library of Congress and the Copyright Office currently feel about Small Claims. Both offices want to take a very hands-off approach and want to continue to help Congress in an advisory position. Basically, they will follow Congress' guidance. This is good news for PPA and provides a positive outlook for small claims!

Karyn Claggett also let us know that Dr. Carla Hayden, the current Librarian of Congress, has ties to the creative community. Her parents have a musical background and other family members are very active in the creative-rights world.

Both meetings were very productive, especially the meeting with the Copyright office. These meetings reassured PPA that small claims is heading in the direction we have been pushing for. DON'T FORGET! The most important thing you, as a PPA member and/or someone who cares about the rights or artists, can do is to sign your name to our ever-growing list of supporters and share, share, share with everyone you know. 


More to come tomorrow

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8:30 am 
Good Morning! We are up bright and early, heading to D.C. for PPA's first advocacy trip since the termination/resignation/removal of Maria Pallente as Register of Copyrights. Small Claims is just as important to you and your fellow photographers as it was before and we want to make sure D.C. knows this. We will start the day with a strategic meeting with our resident lobbyist, Cindi Merifield, who will fill us in on any new developments on Capitol Hill since our last visit.

Today we are meeting with Representatives Chu and Collins' offices to talk about the status of the Small Claims bill, and also for a general check-in. PPA wants to make sure we always visit both Representatives Chu and Collins since they have been a huge asset to the success of small claims. While we are in D.C we are also going to visit Dr. Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress. During this meeting we want to emphasize the importance of modernization to the Copyright Office and how important the Small Claims bill is to PPA's members, small businesses and artists in general. 

We will keep you updated throughout the day with new developments. Off to D.C we go!

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by James Yates

The following is a press release PPA has sent out addressing the dismissal of Maria Pallante as Register of Copyrights and what it means for PPA's goals of a small claims copyright option.

Major Changes to the U.S. Copyright Office May Delay Updating Copyright Law

Professional Photographers of America Vows to Continue Moving Forward with Legislation Changes

Atlanta, GA (October 28, 2016)

The U.S. Copyright Office, positioned within the Library of Congress, suffered a potential setback to its goals for modernization and reform this week as its Register of Copyrights and long-time advocate, Maria Pallante, was removed from her job on October 21st, 2016. The newly appointed Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden, has appointed Karyn Temple Claggett, currently Associate Register of Copyrights, as the acting Register while the search for a new Register of Copyrights is underway. Before her removal, Pallante had been an ally in PPA's effort to secure a small claims process for copyright infringements.
    
The news comes as a shock to content creators (photographers, authors, songwriters, graphic designers, etc.) who make up the U.S. copyright-protected community, and to members of the House and Senate Judiciary committees who are tasked with conducting the comprehensive review of current copyright law. Pallante was an advocate for the introduction of a small claims copyright option, which would allow better copyright enforcement for all content creators. She was also pushing for the modernization of the U.S. Copyright Office, moving it out from under the jurisdiction of the Library of Congress.  A stand-alone U.S. Copyright Office would closely pattern the model used for the Patent and Trademark Office. 

"We were all certainly surprised by what appeared to be a very aggressive move on the part of the Librarian of Congress," said PPA CEO David Trust. "We already have a meeting set with Dr. Hayden where we will discuss our concerns, and try to get a better understanding about how this change might affect the movement to create a small claims process. We look forward to developing a productive relationship with Dr. Hayden and the next Register of Copyrights."

For more than ten years, Professional Photographers of America (PPA) has been working on Capitol Hill, explaining the critical need for a small claims enforcement option for mom-and-pop creators. "That won't change," says Trust. "Photographers and other visual artists have always been treated inequitably under the current copyright system. Passing a small claims bill will continue to be our number one priority on The Hill. And we are going to need the help of every member - every visual artist."
 
Last summer, PPA started a Copyright Grassroots Action Team to provide a structure to mobilize its 30,000 photographer members and the creative community at large. Currently 7,500 members strong, this group of professional photographers and visual artists is growing, as all understand the need for broader copyright defense options in the U.S.

Why is a copyright small claims option so crucial for content creators such as photographers and visual artists? The cost and burden of seeking damages in the only existing venue for copyright infringement claims--federal district court--is prohibitive and leaves most artists no way to enforce their rights. A small claims process within the U.S. Copyright Office would finally provide a fair, cost-effective and streamlined venue where artists could seek remedies for unauthorized uses of their work.

The inability for photographers, and other low-value, high-volume content creators, to pursue a case against an infringer of their work is an injustice that demands to be fixed. For example, unless a case will yield a potential judgment of $100,000 or more ($30,000 at the bare minimum) it is usually a non-starter for intellectual property lawyers. Under the current framework, there is very little recourse for an artist who has their stolen work valued at a few thousand dollars or less. A small claims option within the Copyright Office would remedy that and it is a non-controversial and bi-partisan issue everyone can agree on.

For updates on the latest news as it unfolds, and to add your support to the growing number of small claims-supporters, head to PPA.com/Advocacy

About PPA:
Professional Photographers of America (PPA) is the largest international non-profit 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 and sustainable success. See how PPA helps photographers be more at PPA.com/BeMore.

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4:30pm We finished our last two meetings for the day. Right after lunch we met with Representative Lamar Smith's (TX) office. He was happy to hear from us about the progress of the Small Claims bill and is waiting as anxiously as we are for the bill to drop. He is looking forward to continuing working with PPA. His office understands that it is important to get the word out about small claims to ensure we can get all the support we need when it comes time for a vote. (Grassroots!) Hopefully, Representative Smith's office will be able to co-sponsor when the times comes.

Out last meeting for today was with Representative Steve Chabot's (OH) office. This was our first meeting with his office and they were very open to the idea of small claims. Like the other first-time meetings we've taken this week, it was important to lay out the foundation of small claims and history of how PPA began advocating for photographers' copyright protection. His office was very attentive and fully understood why small claims would be important. This was a very preliminary meeting and PPA hopes to be able to follow up with Chabot's office as we get closer to the bill being released.

We are headed to the airport for the return to Atlanta. This was a jam packed and extremely productive meeting. PPA is extremely happy with how how responsive everyone was and even more excited about the bill and upcoming meetings at Capitol Hill!

Be sure YOU'RE taking action and encouraging everyone you know to lend their name to PPA.com/Grassroots and learning more about Small Claims at PPA.com/Advocacy


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12:30pm We just left Representative Richmond's office (LA). He thoroughly enjoyed the update on the Small Claims bill and we discussed, and he understood, why photographers can't be treated the same as Hollywood artistic properties, with the relatively "low" value placed on works of photographic or visual art compared with motion pictures and music publishing. This is why a small claims option is so important! Richmond's office was very optimistic about the legislation in the long term, but acknowledges that it is important to keep the upcoming elections in mind. Richmond's office want on to say that "nothing is more bipartisan then small business owners" and he can see why small claims would be popular and a bipartisan issue. He hopes, upon reading the bills, they can co-sponsor and help bring copyright protection to photographers.

11:45am Just finished up our first two meetings of the day. Representative Bishop's office (MI) fully understands and embraces the importance of Small Claims Copyright legislation and the effect it could have on photographers. We brought Representative Chu's bill to their attention and they were extremely interested to read further when the bill is introduced. They will continue to do their own research and let us know what they think. We hope Representative Bishop will join us in this fight for small claims!

After leaving Representative Bishop's office we met with Representative DeSantis' office (FL). Representative DeSantis informed us of how important copyright modernization and small claims is to him and hopes that we can make some headway in that area soon, since we all need to have a deeper look into small claims. He is waiting to hear back about Representative Chu's bill and will hopefully be able to co- sponsor when the time comes.


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9:30am: We have another exciting day ahead at Capitol Hill. This morning we have three back-to-back meetings with House Representatives. 

We start off in Representative Mike Bishop's (MI) office. This will be our first meeting with this office and we hope we can show them how important the Small Claims Copyright legislation is and eventually get him to co-sign when the bill is introduced. 

After Bishops office we are going to Representative Ron DeSantis' (FL) office. This meeting is an update to discuss the progress we have made on the bill and the great support we have via our Grassroots team! Once we leave Representative DeSantis' office we are meeting with Representative Cedric Richmond's (LA) office. This is also a follow-up meeting and an opportunity to remind him of how important small claims is and hopefully convince him to co-sponsor soon!

We have a lot going on Capitol Hill today! Stayed tuned for more!



Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for capitolcollins.jpg6:00pm Our last meeting for the day was with Representative Doug Collins' (GA) Office. Collins' office is still looking into the Small Claims bill and understands the importance of providing an alternative remedy for copyright infringement. His office has close ties with both Representatives Jeffries and Chu and wants to ensure he is able to comb through both bills in order to have a better view of what the impact of small claims will be to copyright law. They plan to reach out to PPA once they have more information or insight.

This brings Day One at the Capitol to a close. We are extremely happy that we can continue to build upon our relationships with the members of the House and also create new relationships along the way. Tomorrow we have six meetings back to back, so stay tuned for even more updates!
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4:30pm Just had two very productive meetings. Our first meeting was with Representative Gowdy's (SC) office. This was our first meeting with Gowdy, a member of the House Judiciary Committee. We explained the importance of the Small Claims Copyright bill and the effect it can have on professional photographers. Representative Gowdy's office was extremely interested and said they would look further into the Small Claims bill when it finally drops.

Our second meeting was with Representative Markwayne Mullins' (OK) office. Representative Mullins is a part of the Commerce Committee. This committee is important to the success of the Small Claims bill, since after leaving the House Judiciary, the bill will go to the Commerce Committee. Our meeting with Mullins' office allowed us to lay the foundation for success in this committee, as they were very open to the idea of small claims and said they would review further and let us know if they can co-sponsor. 

We hope both Representatives Mullins and Gowdy will provide their support and Co-Sponsor the Small Claims bill.  

We have one more meeting today with Representative Doug Collins from Georgia. 

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2:30pm It was great touching base with Representative Chu again. The Small Claims Copyright bill is going through some cleaning up and should be introduced to the House soon. There will be plenty of opportunities to ensure that photographers' rights are fully and clearly laid out. Representative Chu's office is just as excited as we are about this bill and wants to make sure photographers and other visual artists finally get to take advantage of the copyright system that was deemed so important by our founding fathers. We appreciate everything Representative Chu has done for us and look forward to working even closer with her. 
We are now heading into another meeting with Representative Trey Gowdy (SC). 

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10:00am: PPA is back on Capitol Hill again advocating for the introduction of a Small Claims Copyright Bill.  On this trip we plan to meet with Representative Judy Chu's (CA) office to get an update on the soon to be released small claims bill. After meeting with her office, we are also going to meet with other members of the House of Representatives to continue to discuss with them the importance of Small Claims. The next two days are jam-packed with meetings so stay tuned for updates!
by James Yates
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Copyright in America is on a brink of change with the introduction of a Copyright Small Claims Process on Capitol Hill. Over 7,000 people already added their name to support these legislative changes. 

This week, PPA CEO David Trust participated in two different podcasts talking about the incoming Copyright Small Claims Process that is being introduced on Capitol Hill. The podcasts explain what this is about, how simple it is and the huge difference adding your name will make.

First up, Bill Ramsey of The PhotoTellers brings his skills as an interviewer to his talk with David, taking us into a deep dive addressing the Small Claims piece of legislation that's about to hit the floor and what YOU can do to help (it's easy and takes all of four seconds). 

Next, Rob Trawick and Jim Felder of FotoFacts cracked us up with their usual madcap energy as David Trust breaks down the history of Copyright Small Claims and exactly who can and should add their name to the Grassroots Action Team (here's a hint: EVERYBODY). 

Stream or download these two podcasts. Copyright law matters, because photographers' livelihoods depend on it. Our industry has never been this close to making a big leap forward. It's so easy and fast to add your name, you won't regret it!  

Take a listen, add your name to PPA.com/Grassroots and...  SHARE, SHARE, SHARE with your friends and family, everyone you have ever met on social media, people at the grocery store, your mailman... anyone who believes in the rights of content creators. Thank you!

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James Yates is an Atlanta-based writer/actor and the Communications Specialist at Professional Photographers of America (PPA). A graduate of Georgia State University, James has worked in the non-profit sector his whole life and is proud to be able to help artists achieve their goals. In his spare time he can be found walking his dogs on the Beltline or partaking in the nightly theater and comedy scene in the ATL.


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PPA is back on Capitol Hill this week, and we have some updates on the progress of copyright small claims legislation.

Currently, there are two copyright small claims bills being worked on by members of the U.S. House of Representatives - one bill is being produced by Congresswoman Chu (D-CA) and the other by Congressman Jeffries (D-NY).  Due to recent world events, other issues have been at the forefront of Capitol Hill discussions over the past several weeks.  Consequently, the introduction of Congresswoman Chu's (D-CA) small claims legislation has been delayed, but only slightly. This slight delay is not all bad news - the more issues that can be worked out among stakeholders on the front-end, the more likely the legislation will be successful.  

We are pleased to announce that Congressman Jeffries (D-NY) and Congressman Marino (R-PA) introduced a bipartisan small claims bill today. Congresswoman Chu's bill will be introduced when Congress reconvenes after its upcoming six-week recess. The House of Representatives will be on recess from July 15th until September 6th.  PPA continues to give input as this process unfolds, and we continue to work especially closely alongside Congresswoman Chu's office as they finalize legislative language.

After both bills are introduced, PPA will review the legislation and direct members of the Grassroots Action Team to take action. Your first call to action will be to ask your representative to co-sponsor the small claims bill that we believe is most favorable for professional photographers.  This call to action will most likely begin in September.

Let's take advantage of this unexpected little bit of extra time and focus on getting more photographers and visual artists to join the Grassroots Action Team!  We are encouraged by the number of participants so far, but we still have a long way to go.  We need to be prepared to make a very loud statement on Capitol Hill.  Additional delays are always possible - especially during an election year - but that shouldn't stop us from mobilizing now.  Please continue to encourage every photographer, as well as other creators that you know to sign up at PPA.com/Grassroots.  Remember, you do not have to be a PPA member to join - this needs to be an industry-wide effort.

PPA's government affairs team will be attending important, small claims-related meetings on the Hill this week.  Be sure to stay tuned to PPA Today for updates from D.C.! 

copyrightoffice-thumb-350x466-2726.jpg5:30pm: 
We had a wonderful meeting with the Register of Copyrights, Maria Pallante, and the Copyright Office's Director of Policy, Karyn Claggett. We thanked the Register for her tireless support for small creators in creating her plans for a modernized copyright office and testifying to Congress as an expert in the policy area. This meeting provided a great opportunity for us to explain the registration-related difficulties photographers face and how that effects their ability to enforce copyright. We were extremely encouraged by listening to some aspects of her vision for registration reforms which include creating a process that is not one-size-fits-all for all classes of creations. In the coming months, we will be working closely with the Office by giving input on much-needed registration improvements. The Copyright Office (at the request of Congress) has produced and published an extensive plan for modernizing their systems and processes. This plan is dependent on the policy and appropriation decisions of Congress, so PPA plans to continue to be involved in the discussion on the Hill.

We also met with a representative of the American Bar Association to discuss the progress of small claims legislation. The ABA has generally been supportive of the ideas. We will continue to be in contact as the copyright review process evolves.

Headed back to Atlanta!


1:30pm: We are pleased to announce that Congressman Jeffries (D-NY) and Congressman Marino (R-PA) introduced a bipartisan small claims bill today. We appreciate Congressman Jeffries' and Congressman Marino's support on this important small business issue. We look forward to reviewing this bill and Congresswoman Chu's bill and working with these offices and others as well as important stakeholders to make copyright small claims a reality. 


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10:00am: We are at the US Chamber of Commerce for our first meeting of the day. Here we will pitch the idea of copyright small claims to the chamber, explaining why it is such an important small business issue. We hope to have their support on this issue as the process unfolds.



4:30pm: We're walking from our meeting with Zach Whiting in the office of Congressman Steve King (R-IA) to the office of Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) for our next meeting. Our meeting with Zach was great. He seemed very interested in our message and asked great questions about how to create an effective small claims process for small-business creators. We brought him up to speed on the forthcoming bills. He is looking forward to reviewing the legislation. Hopefully, the Congressman will choose to get involved with this issue as the copyright review enters the legislative phase. 
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3:30pm: Good meeting with Congressman Cohen's(D-TN) staff. We brought them up to speed on the progress of small claims legislation. They were very receptive of our message and plan to connect with the offices sponsoring these bills and review the language. We are asking all of these offices to consider co-sponsoring small claims legislation upon introduction.

We have are headed into our last two (back-to-back) meetings with Congressman Steve King's (R-IA) office and Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren's (D-CA) office. 


2:45pm: As always, we had a very productive meeting with Linda Shim, Congresswoman Chu's (D-CA) Chief of Staff. We are working through final details of the bills. At this point, we are facilitating discussions on smaller, technical details between congressional offices and stakeholders. Linda is working closely with the copyright office and counsel to finalize legislative language. We expect that Congresswoman Chu's bill will be introduced in early September when Congress reconvenes from the upcoming recess (which starts this weekend).

10:15am: 
PPA is back in our nation's capital for the last week of the House's current session before their recess. There is a LOT happening with our top priority: a Small Claims Copyright bill. We hope the bill is introduced this week (rather than being held until the next session in September). Stay tuned here as we will update the blog throughout today and tomorrow with all the latest news on this front. 







by James Yates

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We're stuck right smack-dab in the middle of June and it's getting hot out there! Grab a Popsicle, crank up the a/c and take a look at our top blog posts from around the web for the week of June 13. 

PPA Advocacy Team D.C. Updates Parts 1 &
BE MORE ENGAGED: PPA was back on Capitol Hill fighting for a Small Claims Copyright option. Progress has accelerated! Check out the latest details here. 

SPEAK OUT: Have you joined our Action Team? If not, there's no time to waste. Watch this informative video and lend your voice to this historic movement. 

JOIN UP: PPA Member Randy Van Duinen, M.Photog.M.Artist.Cr., CPP, with a plea for all to join the Grassroots Team. 

PASSION V. PAYCHECK: FStoppers has an intriguing op-ed about doing what you love for a living and the reality that some people may thrive with an unrelated day job, pursuing their dreams in their spare time. Is one better than the other? Several links and opinions offered in this thought-provoking read. 

INSIGHT: The Phoblographer with an article on New York-based photographer Aundre Larrow's tips and tricks that could change how you think about portrait photography.


by Lindsey Forson

As PPA kicks off Day Two in our nation's capital, we wanted to remind you about THIS FRIDAY (tomorrow) and the free, online event you can take part in: Every Voice Counts - PPA's Grassroots Plan for Small Claims. This informative session is the perfect way to jump on board with us and brush up on what small claims protection is, why we need your help, and what YOU can do to help change policy. Sign up now

Now, for the updates:

4:45pm
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We had another positive meeting with Casey Fitzpatrick, counsel to Congresswoman Mimi Walters (R-CA) from the judiciary committee. Casey's interest in the issue was apparent as he asked detailed questions and gave input regarding how to make the small claims process as successful as possible. Congresswoman Walters has many PPA members in her district, and we hope she will be positively engaged on the issue as legislation is introduced and discussed. We will certainly stay in touch with this office.

That about does it for our D.C. trip this week. Remember, we have reached a critical point in the process where we need YOU to get involved. And not only you. We need you to tell your friends to get involved. And they need to tell their friends. And so on. If you have not already, please sign up now for the Small Claims Grassroots Action Team at PPA.com/Grassroots



2:55pm
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We just had a brief meeting with Bobby Cornett with the office of Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ). Congressman Franks also came in and spoke with us briefly about his strong support for copyright protection. We brought Bobby up to speed on upcoming legislation. He is looking forward to reviewing finalized legislation. We will remain in contact with this office as the process unfolds.


12:05pm
Excellent meeting with Lauren Soltini. The office of Congresswoman DelBene has been supportive of the idea of copyright small claims for quite some time. Lauren was excited to hear that legislation is in the works. She is confident that the Congresswoman will be eager to support small claims legislation when introduced.

We are headed to a lunch meeting with Keith Kupferschmid, CEO of the Copyright Alliance, to discuss the legislative process for small claims, strategy, and how the Alliance can continue to be supportive and involved.



10:55am
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We had a great meeting with Jeff Wieland in the office of Congressman Marino this morning. Congressman Marino is one of the key republicans on the judiciary committee when it comes to championing IP rights and protection. It is very important that he is on board with copyright small claims. And fortunately, the office has been very receptive to the idea.

We brought Jeff up to speed on the progress unfolding related to small claims legislation. We hope that Congressman Marino will choose to sign on to a small claims bill as a co-sponsor once the legislation is finalized (which will happen within the next week or two).

Our next meeting is with Lauren Soltini in the Office of Congresswoman DelBene (D-WA). Congresswoman DelBene had a strong voice on the committee and within her party related to property rights, including intellectual property. We will report back soon!



9:00am
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Late yesterday, PPA's Advocacy Team met with Linda Shim, the chief of staff to Congresswoman Chu (D- CA), who is personally drafting copyright small claims legislation. Congresswoman Chu is planning to distribute a discussion draft of her bill to stakeholders next week, and will formally introduce the legislation before the upcoming July recess.  

Congresswoman Chu and Linda Shim have worked so closely with PPA and other visual arts associations along the way to ensure that the proposed legislation will create an effective process for visual artists. The legislative process has not been, and will not be, without complications because of all of the stakeholders, lawmakers, and government officials involved, but Congresswoman Chu is such a strong champion to be leading the charge for small creators' rights. We are very fortunate to have her 100% on board!

We talked through some very specific details of the legislation regarding how exactly the small claims process will be administered. There will likely be some changes made to the legislation once the office of Congresswoman Chu consults with her republican counterpart on the bill (once confirmed) and considers input from other stakeholders. Please stayed tuned for when the bill is introduced, at which time we will share the full text and work to educate the Grassroots Action Team on its details. Linda was extremely excited to hear about PPA's Grassroots Action Plan. She reconfirmed that strong grassroots support is exactly what sets up a bill for success - so please get involved; every voice counts!

Our first meeting today is with Jeff Wieland in the office of Congressman Marino (R-PA). Congressman Marino is a known supporter of intellectual property rights and has a strong voice on the judiciary committee. He previously introduced a Copyright Office Modernization bill, which PPA supports, alongside Congresswoman Chu. We hope to secure his support for copyright small claims during this meeting.

Stay tuned for more updates from the Hill! If you have not already, be sure to visit PPA.com/Grassroots to join our Copyright Small Claims Grassroots Action Team!

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Lindsey Forson is PPA's Manager of Government Affairs. She works alongside our CEO to fight for the rights of professional photographers on Capitol Hill and to keep PPA members informed on the issues that affect your businesses. Lindsey helps PPA advocate for stronger copyright protection, improved drone regulations, and other small-business issues affecting the industry. When not on Capitol Hill or at PPA headquarters, you can typically find Lindsey on a soccer field, at an Atlanta restaurant or market, or cheering on the Auburn Tigers!
by Lindsey Forson

4:15pm
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(pic to the right: the view from Congressman Nadler's office)

We had a very productive meeting with Lisette Morton and David Greengrass who are counsel to the IP Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee. All of the committee counsel will play an important role as legislation progresses, so it is important that we keep them in the loop. Since the Judiciary Committee has undergone a comprehensive review of copyright law and processes over the past several years, any copyright legislation that is introduced will be part of a larger process and discussion about copyright reform.

During this meeting, we updated David and Lisette on the recent progress toward small claims legislation and made our case to them as to why this issue is of extreme importance to small-business creators across the country and should be treated with individual attention. They were very responsive and helped us think through some important points. We got to have a quick conversation with the congressman on the way out.

Our next meeting is with the Linda Shim, the Chief of Staff to Congresswoman Chu, who is currently finalizing copyright small claims legislation for introduction. This will likely be a longer and more involved meeting, so we will send out an update in the morning before tomorrow's meetings.



2:30pm
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We have just wrapped up our first meeting of the day with Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX; Chairman of the Science Committee and Judiciary Committee member) and his counsel, Curtis Philp. PPA has an interesting connection with Congressman Smith in this fight for copyright small claims. Congressman Smith was the Chairman of the Intellectual Property Subcommittee (of the Judiciary) in 2006 when PPA CEO, David Trust, first testified on copyright small claims during a subcommittee hearing. For more than a decade, Congressman Smith has been intrigued by the same idea PPA had been lobbying for - the creation of a small claims enforcement option as a way to repair the current inequities of the copyright system which negatively impact small business owners. Congressman Smith is eager to be an ally to small-business creators throughout the process of working to make copyright small claims a reality. We are grateful for his support, and look forward to working with his office as the legislative process progresses. 

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We are now headed into a meeting with the office of Congressman Nadler (Ranking Member of the IP Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee).









9:05 am: 
PPA is back on Capitol Hill this week working on copyright small claims legislation.  
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We will be working with drafters of the legislation to discuss specific details and ensure that forthcoming copyright small claims legislation is as favorable as possible for professional photographers.  
We will be seeking original co-sponsors for copyright small claims legislation.  
We will also be meeting with key staffers of the House Judiciary Committee to discuss the legislative process and how we can best set up a copyright small claims bill for success.  

PPA's advocacy team is currently in Washington, D.C. doing our part to make copyright small claims a reality, but we have reached a critical point in the process where we need you to get involved. If you have not already, please sign up now for the Small Claims Grassroots Action Team at PPA.com/Grassroots. And stay tuned to PPA Today for updates from the Hill!

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Lindsey Forson is PPA's Manager of Government Affairs. She works alongside our CEO to fight for the rights of professional photographers on Capitol Hill and to keep PPA members informed on the issues that affect your businesses. Lindsey helps PPA advocate for stronger copyright protection, improved drone regulations, and other small-business issues affecting the industry. When not on Capitol Hill or at PPA headquarters, you can typically find Lindsey on a soccer field, at an Atlanta restaurant or market, or cheering on the Auburn Tigers!
By Autumn Rice
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The House Judiciary Committee is hard at work on small claims copyright legislation. In the meantime, it's important we all learn about this important issue, the process, and the possible result. In order to gain support for the small claims copyright legislation, PPA is holding an information session about the bill. 

Please register to attend for free: Every Voice Counts - PPA's Grassroots Plan for Copyright Small Claims on Jun 17, 2016 2:00 PM EDT at: 

This is important! It will help you better understand your role in PPA's Copyright Grassroots Action Plan. We will walk you through a quick and simple way to contact your congressional representatives at the right times. This presentation will explain in further detail the first call to action for the Grassroots Action Team - soliciting co-sponsors for the copyright small claims legislation! 

Don't miss out on this opportunity to learn how you can be a part of this historic change.
This online event is open to all, so please register and spread the word!

You can also support by joining the Copyright Grassroots Action Team. It only takes a few seconds to sign up! By joining the Team, you will receive news on the latest from Capitol Hill and alerts when it's time to contact your congressmen.

Until Friday... Please share!

by Amanda Arnold
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What? You thought copyright law protects you?

Not so much. Copyright law is great for the big creators--the motion pictures companies, rock stars--but it does precious little for high-volume creators like professional photographers, for whom each piece of work has a relatively low monetary value. Here's why: In order to battle an infringer, you have to take your case to federal court. Federal court is expensive--like $345,000 expensive for the average copyright case cost. In fact, you'd have a hard time getting an attorney to touch a copyright infringement case unless damages are likely to exceed $30,000 ... at a minimum.

The average copyright infringement against a photographer is valued at less than $3,000. That's a lot of money for a photographer, who on average makes $35,000 a year. And yet it's not near enough to take down an infringer.

Sound unfair? And illogical? It is. That's why the nation's largest nonprofit association of working photographers is bucking for change. And the time to act is now.

For more than 20 years, Professional Photographers of America has been active in getting copyright law reformed. One of PPA's priorities is seeing the creation of a small claims process for copyright so photographers can go after infringers. And finally--just this month--lawmakers are drafting legislation to put this copyright small claims process in place.

Exciting news? Yes! End of the journey? No! The bill won't make it from draft to legislation without co-sponsors--lots of them. And it won't get co-sponsors without the voices of tens of thousands--yes, tens of thousands--of photographers and other visual arts creators pleading for them to act ASAP. So here's what we need you to do:

Go to PPA.com/Grassroots right now and sign up to receive updates on the bill. At some point in the near future you will receive a notification to begin contacting your local and state representatives about the bill. Don't worry--the Grassroots Action Team website will make this process very easy. You'll simply plug in your ZIP code to find the appropriate lawmakers in your area to contact, and then you'll shoot off an email directly from the website. Or make a few phone calls. Simple and effective.

Share PPA's "Understanding Small Claims" video. Not just once, not twice--up to 10 times on your social media feeds. Remember, tens of thousands of photographers' voices are needed in this initiatve, so this video needs to go viral to make that impact.  

Tune in to PPA's upcoming webinars on copyright. These webinars will get you up to speed on copyright reform and explain what actions you need to take to mobilize in support of a small claims process. Visit ppa.com/advocacy for an updated list of webinar topics and times. 
This could be the most significant copyright change in your lifetime. Be a part of it!


Amanda Arnold is the associate editor of Professional Photographer.


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