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Like every month, PPA is back on Washington to advocate with legislators for your photography rights! Small business owners are often overlooked by the law, but PPA is on the Hill to make sure photographers are accounted for in the upcoming new copyright legislation.

Yesterday, PPA's advocacy team met with Corey Cooke and Joe Hartz who both serve on the Hill as Counsel to the House Small Business Committee. 

"We discussed various issues affecting small photography businesses including copyright issues, health care concerns, and drone photography," said Lindsey Forson, PPA's copyright & government affairs coordinator. "This introductory meeting made sure these important people on the Hill know who PPA is and what issues are important to the 28,000+ photographers and small business owners PPA represents. The goal is to forge positive relationships with those looking out for the concerns of small business owners like photographers."

Today's agenda includes meetings with:

  • The Office of the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator

"There is a new coordinator in place and we want to establish a relationship with the office and make sure they are thinking about small business copyright issues," said Forson.

  • The U.S. Copyright Office

To discuss the Copyright review process.

CONTINUE READING FOR UPDATES

James Williams, the Federal Aviation Administration's Chief of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration, announced during a panel discussion Monday, May 4, that a final rule on the new regulations for small drone operation will most likely be made within the next 16 months. 

Of course 16 months might not sound ideal, as we would like for drone regulations to be improved now. However, the announcement of a time frame is a positive development. Additionally, given the complexity of the FAA as a federal agency and that just last month they received thousands of comments on their proposed regulations, 16 months or less is probably a better than what we could hope for in terms of a timeline. At PPA, we are confident that the new rule will make drone photography a feasible option for professional photographers.

Here is Williams' full statement:

"The standard timeline from the completion of a comment period to federal rule is 16 months. I believe that the FAA will do everything within its power to meet that timeline or beat it. It is a fairly complex rule and there are a lot of comments that have to be resolved, and it will take some time to do it. But it's an administrator-level priority to get this done, and I believe this interest is shared all the way up the chain inside the executive branch. I'm confident it will move forward as fast as humanly possible."

This statement follows last month's progress on new drone regulations. We will continue to keep you up to date as the situation develops!

With PPA, Be More In The Know.

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PPA's copyright team is back in Atlanta after spending the past few days in our nation's capital, advocating for the issues that matter most to professional photographers. Catch up on Tuesday and Wednesday's events, and then read the recap below for more details! Things are REALLY moving in the right direction on the copyright front!

By Lindsey Forson

This is an exciting time in the world of copyright policy. We're expecting to see proposed legislation, as early as this legislative session, which could result in the first changes to the Copyright Act in over four decades! This trip was effective in terms of our lobbying efforts and extremely educational in our understanding of what changes might be forthcoming.

One of the highlights of the visit was attending a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee during which Maria Pallante, the Register of the U.S. Copyright Office testified. This was the last hearing of a copyright review process that has been going on for more than two years. In 2013, Pallante was the first to call for the review of Copyright Law and administration. Since then, the Committee has held 20 hearings and heard 100 testimonies on the topic. It was only fitting for Pallante to testify again in the final hearing.

Pallante gave her perspective on what should be the Committee's priorities moving forward. She called for a modernization of the U.S. Copyright Office, addressing concerns with its organizational structure, I.T. capacity, budgeting, and staffing. She also presented items she believes are ready for legislative action. We were most excited to hear that a small claims process for addressing copyright infringements is (finally) on the top of that list. Pallante urged members of the Committee to take action now. Additionally, she presented issues in need of further investigation and analysis such as Section 512 of the Act and mass digitization. You can access her full testimony here.

The rest of our trip focused on lobbying appointments with members of the House Judiciary Committee. The Judiciary Committee will be the group to propose new copyright legislation. We met with several freshman members of Congress who sit on the Committee or their staff members, to introduce them to who PPA is and the issues that are important to us.

Copyright is arguably the most important legal concern for professional photographers. With a photography career, it is inevitable that you will have to deal with copyright infringements at some point. The following are real infringement stories from PPA photographers. These situations could happen to you, so read up and be sure you're prepared!                                                                                                                   
"I didn't know I couldn't reproduce the images."

PPA member Denise Watrous found an envelope of her photographs backstage at the event she was working. She noticed the photos were taken during a former job but they had been printed by a major chain retailer. Denise reached out to both the young lady in the photograph and the retailer about their infringement. The woman was apologetic and claimed she didn't know she could not reproduce the images. Turns out, Denise was able to maintain a good relationship with the consumer while taking steps to educate and ensure she would not repeat another infringement.

However, the retailer was not so apologetic and was quick to blame the consumer - this is when Denise called PPA. We discussed the situation and gave her some information on retailers' responsibility to follow copyright law. Denise held the retailer accountable - it is their responsibility not to print or reproduce a professionally-created photograph without written permission from the photographer, even if the consumer tells them otherwise! Denise was able to negotiate with the retailer's attorney herself to reach an agreement and get a payout. 

Denise's situation with this retailer inspired her to get involved in PPA's photo retailer awareness campaign for Copyright Awareness Month. Members can sign up to receive educational brochures to distribute to local photo retailers while discussing photographic copyright. This is just one more way to protect your images. If you would like to get involved, sign-up on the Copyright Awareness page on PPA.com!

Lessons Learned:

  • Stand up for yourself - it pays off! And you don't always need an attorney to do so.
  • Keep copyright conversations with you clients educational. It will help you keep and gain customers.
  • Educating clients and local retailers is crucial to protecting your images. Sometimes infringers don't know any better, but their ignorance can harm your business.

Even Celebrities Can Infringe On You

In this case, the PPA photographer must remain anonymous, as the situation is ongoing. This photographer took a collection of photographs at an event which they later posted in an online gallery in which one of the photos pictured a prominent celebrity. They shared the photo with a family member but did not give permission for it to be distributed, printed or posted. The photo then found its way onto the celebrity's social media pages.

Next, the photo was picked up by major publications, and when we say major, we mean major!  The photographer grew distraught as they thought about the amount of money they lost due to the lack of a photo credit. This member called PPA and has kept us updated on the situation. They are working with an attorney to try and recoup the lost payments.

For Your Consideration:

  • Inform/educate your clients! Make sure they understand you own the copyright, and that they have no right to print, post, or copy them without your consent.
  • Register your photos with the U.S. Copyright Office before you share them, especially photos that would be particularly vulnerable to infringements. This will help if you ever find yourself in a copyright legal case and affects the amount you can seek in damages. 
  • Mark your images as copyrighted before posting them. If anything, it will clearly show people that this image belongs to you. Remember that your images do not have to be registered for you to mark them. Example: © 2015. PPA (include your contact information for further visibility.)
Watermark your images with your logo or another visual cue before posting or sharing them. Again, it will clearly show the images belong to you.

Take extra care in explaining your clients what copyright is and how easily they can infringe without meaning it. Here are a few things you can do:


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PPA is back in Washington advocating for photographers! CEO David Trust, Director of Member Value and Experience, Kristen Hartman and Copyright and Government Affairs Coordinator, Lindsey Forson, are there meeting with staffers and congressmen and women before they attend tomorrow's House Judiciary Committee Hearing.

Look for updates here on this post they report back! 

Update #1: Tuesday, April 28, 3:48pm

This afternoon, we met with Linda Shim, staffer of California Congresswoman Judy Chu's office. Congresswoman Chu is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and co-chairman of the Creative Rights Caucus. The meeting was productive as we talked about projects we can work on together to spread the word on the Hill about copyright from a small business perspective. 

We also met with Austin Smithson of Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert's (also on the House Judiciary Committee) office and talked about the copyright registration process itself. We showed him how this cannot be a one-size-fits-all process, which he was very receptive to. There are many different business models represented among copyright owners and the current approach is not working for everyone. 

We are looking forward to two more meetings today before attending the House Judiciary Committee Hearing tomorrow morning where the actual U.S. Copyright Office will present "The Register's Perspective on Copyright Review." We will have three additional meetings after the hearing.

READ PAST THE JUMP FOR MORE UPDATES 

If you had any hesitation there, today's free webinar is for you:

Webinar: Are Your Images Protected? 
Thursday, April 23, 2015 - 3-4 pm ET

FREE

Lindsey Forson, coordinator, PPA Copyright & Government Affairs Department

 

Protecting your images isn't something you want to leave to chance. Become more confident about understanding your copyrights and you'll be able to better defend yourself as well as raise awareness with clients and retailers. This is good for the industry and the livelihood of your business!

 

Consider signing up for the webinar, coinciding with World Copyright Day. Again, it's free and it will help you understand what further steps you can take to protect your business from copyright infringements AND what to do in the annoying case that infringements occur. Sign up to participate! It's a brief but educational webinar and it WILL help you determine if you are doing everything you can to protect your images. 

 

You might feel comfortable with what you are already doing, but the law keeps evolving and you never know what you're missing! Be More Prepared, Be More Protected, Be More Aware...  all photographers need (more) copyright protection!


Want to be more involved?


Inform/Train photo retailers in your area. This means those who print photos for consumers,

especially those high volume/low quality retailers. Focus on larger retail chains, where your clients

are most likely to have access to self-printing and scanning services. 


It's easy to sign up and participate in the program. As soon as you sign up, we'll send you the "Helpful Tips For Handling Professional Photographs" brochure that you can use as an icebreaker and excuse to visit the photo retailers in your area. It's good to leave some behind for them too.  

 

NOTE: Before you embark on this Copyright Awareness mission, please educate yourself first so you can help retailers understand their responsibilities. It's important to maintain strong relationships with photo retailers, so make sure your conversations are positive and productive!

Q: What is the most important point to get across to printing retailers?

A: When in doubt, never print or reproduce a professionally-created photograph without written consent from the photographer!

This is a great way you can help protect your images, especially since such a critical part of your revenues come from printed work.  

 

Copyright matters. And as always, PPA has your back. This is your chance to get involved.

 


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By Lindsey Forson

April is Copyright Awareness Month at PPA! Why get involved? Because copyright is arguably the most important legal concern for professional photographers. During the course of your career as a pro, it's inevitable that you will have to deal with copyright infringement at some point. To highlight the importance of copyright protection and give you the opportunity to learn the easy way, some PPA photographers have agreed to share their experiences!

In light of a recent issue with a copyright infringement, we had a conversation with PPA member Ross Oscar Knight.

Ross has been a professional photographer since 2004. He takes great care in protecting his images but still faces around 4-5 copyright infringements per year! He has dealt with infringements from clients, retailers, and other photography businesses, along with those frustrating unknown infringers.

Ross stands with PPA in encouraging photographers to protect their images and sees copyright protection as one of the most important aspects of a photography business. For him, there are reasons to protect images beyond the obvious business-related concerns because his images will live on long after his life and the life of his business. "It's no different than a musician writing a song," said Ross. "I'm a photographer, and for me, images are my legacy."

April is Copyright Awareness Month

Have you ever had your rights infringed upon by a photo retailer? Hint: You most likely have and the worst part is both you and the retailer probably didn't even know it! Often retailers commit or allow copyright infringements simply because they do not fully grasp that they actually have some responsibilities.

But you can help make sure it doesn't happen again! (OK, maybe not completely, but you can help make it happens LESS!). April is Copyright Awareness Month. As such, you can work with PPA to better inform photo retailers across the United States. Especially those right in your neighborhood.

Your local retailers (including the big ones like Target, CVS and Walmart) might just be printing whatever comes in and not checking for copyrights. No one wants to infringe the law. You can help them know what they don't know. And most large chain stores don't offer systematic training for their in-store lab attendants or clerks. They will appreciate you helping protect their business, while you will also be protecting your own work! It's a training win-win.

 

There are two ways you can do your part and get involved:

By: Lauren Walters

Have you ever had someone steal your work or discredit you? Don't fret! PPA is here to help! If you hire a lawyer, you'll be spending A LOT OF MONEY in legal fees, but if you are with PPA, most likely we'll be able to protect your work for FREE or, if damages have already been done, for a fraction of that insane legal cost.

PPA photographer, Ross Oscar Knight, specializes in weddings, fine art and corporate events. Ross had a project that received a lot of exposure when it went viral in 2007, thanks in part to the feature on the Oprah Winfrey show. Soon after, people started pulling and using images from his website without his permission. Some were even discrediting his work and cropping out his logo, committing the ultimate copyright infringement. Ross remembered that PPA helps photographers resolve copyright disputes and went for that help. Check out his story and hear more about how PPA helped him resolve this copyright infringement rip-off.


If you are at risk for copyright infringement or simply want to take the right proactive steps, just go to the PPA's Copyright Resources , get your Free Copyright Kit or check out the overview of copyright laws. Be More Business Savvy and Be More Protected. 

By: Lauren Walters

PPA CEO David Trust was in DC the past two days advocating for photographers like you! He and PPA's copyright team in D.C., the Nickles Group, had a series of meetings with Representatives of Arizona, California, Georgia, Missouri, Utah and Wyoming and Senators from Los Angeles and Oklahoma who all have a say on the FAA's proposed rules for regulating the use of drones in the United States. The proposed rules are awaiting approval and are now in a 60-day comment period, during which PPA is working diligently to pull together comments for submission.  

The revised proposal indicates good progress for Photographers. The FAA proposes and approves the rules on drones; those rules are not legislation and do not require congressional approval. Currently, the said rules categorize drones into three physical size groups. PPA is mainly concerned with regulation pertaining to small and micro drones. A small drone is classified as 55lbs or lighter, and a micro drone is 4.4lbs or lighter.

The FAA's proposed rules would require professional photographers wanting to use small drones (less than 55 lbs) to take an aeronautical skills test and obtain a permit and renew that license every two years.  There would also be a one-time registration fee of $150. With 560 testing sites, finding a testing center should be easy. PPA believes the proposed rules for small drones to be a major step in the right direction as they eliminate the current requirement that commercial drone users hold an actual pilot's license. 

The proposed rules for micro-drones (4.4 lbs or less) are even more favorable as they require no skills test.  Photographers wanting to use micro-drones in their business would have to register and self-certify that they understand the FAA's aeronautical information manual.

We are still months away before the rules are finalized, yet solid progresses are being made in the direction of photographers. Want to weigh in? Please visit the discussion on theLoop about drones, it's a dynamic one! 

Drones are the hot topic at the moment, but Trust also had discussions on copyright reform and the Next Great Copyright Act, which are still under development. 

By: Lauren Walters

Ready to take the plunge into Imaging USA? First, stay up to date with what's happening in the world of photography. Read our top ten favorite blog posts and use them as conversation starters at the convention!

1.       5 Tips for Successfully Marketing Yourself at an Industry Trade Show

PERSONAL BRAND: Headed to Imaging USA next week? Get a head start! Learn how to market yourself successfully for when you're walking around at the Expo. The first step is to plan, plan, and plan again!

2.       Why Sports Illustrated Laid Off All of its Photographers

LAYOFFS: For a magazine so heavily reliant on its high-quality images, we were surprised to learn that Sports Illustrated laid off their entire staff of six photographers. A cut of photographers of this scale hasn't happened since The Chicago Sun-Times cut their 28-staffed photographers in 2013. Is history repeating itself?

3.       Joshua Kane: Running a Destination Wedding Photography Business

DESTINATION PHOTOGRAPHER: PPA photographer Joshua Kane gets paid to travel the world and photograph destination weddings. Although Joshua is living the dream, it's not always a vacation. Read about the challenges and benefits of a destination photography business.

4.       Pixels to Paint: Mixing Photography and Printmaking Yields Beautiful Results

MIXED MEDIA: How would a printmaker involve photography in their process? After mixing digital and print mediums, a hybrid medium was born. Check out a lithographer's approach to digital photography.

5.       India Through a Lens: The Nation Embraces Photography as Art

TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY: India has always been rich in imagery, but not so involved in the art of photography. After their first photography festival four years ago in New Deli, India has become more present in the photography scene. Check out breath-taking images showcasing the exotic Indian lifestyle.

6.       Study Finds that Professionally Captured Photos Are More Memorable Than Amateur Ones

DUH! (THANKFULLY): According to the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), people can distinguish a professional from an amateur photographer. The researcher who conducted this study used special equipment to record the subject's eye movements when exposed to photographs. Check out other conclusions they drew from this experiment.

7.       Johnson Publishing to Sell Historic Photo Archive

ARCHIVES: Hoping to raise funds, the publisher of Ebony magazine is selling their entire photo archive. This collection dates back to 1945 including historic and award-winning photography. Find out more about this collection.

8.       Street Photography: It All Comes Down to Editing

EDITING: As a street photographer, you can shoot anytime, anywhere! Where the structured schedule is lacking, the photographer picks up the slack when it comes to editing. Why would one have to heavily edit street photography? Read more to find out!

9.       Photographer Suing Nike Over the Origins of the Famous Jordan "Jumpman" Logo

COPYRIGHT: Learn about Nike's "jumpman" logo legend. Was there a photograph behind this genius design for inspiration? If so, does the photographer deserve to be compensated?

10.   Photographer Captures Enchanting Landscapes Inspired by The Brothers Grimm

INSPIRATION: We all know those beloved fairytales from our childhood. How about capturing the landscapes that inspired the original Grimm's fairy tales?

Check back with us next week for more top blogs. Any interesting blogs you'd like us to check out, let us know on theLoop!

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By: Lauren Walters

Itching for news in the world of photography? Here are our top ten blog posts for this week. From tips and tutorials to adventure and high art, this week's top ten is a creative cluster.

 

1.       Imaging USA: The Next Stage of Your Photography Career Begins Here!

EVENT: Become more knowledgeable, connected, and confident by attending Imaging USA. This convention hosted by PPA takes place on Sunday, Feb. 1 - Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015, in Nashville, Tennessee. Read this article to find out about all the benefits it has to offer. Come join the fun at Imaging USA!

 

2.       The Consequences of Working for Free

BUSINESS: Relating the life of a photographer to a life of a circus performer, this blog shares a few concepts of working the circus life that seem all too familiar to us photographers. There is no publicity value in working for free. North America has a silly belief system that work should not be enjoyable, therefore we should only be paid if there isn't enjoyment. But, don't sell your skills for free just yet! Value your work and yourself as a professional. 

3.       How to Make Artistic Multiple Exposures In-camera and in Photoshop

TUTORIAL: Interested in expanding your portfolio with creative pieces? Try a multiple exposure piece! From abstract to artistic portraits, regardless of the medium, this tutorial covers it all when it comes to multiple exposures. Have fun experimenting!

4.       How I Learned to Stop Taking Photographs and Start Making Photographs

PARADIGM SHIFT: Going from taking photos to making art can be a huge step. A common struggle among learning photographers can be focusing on a shallow depth of field. As soon as you start to learn that photography is a story telling device is when you start "making" photos instead of "taking" them.

5.       Why Photographers Aren't Artists

ARTISTS vs. PROFESSIONALS: As a photographer, do you consider yourself an artist? This blog distinguishes creative individuals as craftsmen, artists, professionals and finally entrepreneurs. Furthermore, this blog explains that true artistic geniuses such as Beethoven no longer exist. Instead of artists, we've become professionals.

 

6.       Help Unravel a Gordon Parks Southern Mystery

HISTORY: They say a picture is worth a thousand words. The featured photograph dates back to 1956 in an Atlanta airport. Relations of race and gender are assumed through this intimate photograph. Although, the details of this photo still remain a mystery today.

7.       Help, I Am Being Sued for Nearly $500,000 by a Model I Photographed

COPYRIGHT PROTECTION: After signing a release, participating in the shoot and getting paid, a model decides to sue the photographer for the photos getting stolen. The model signed a release allowing her photos to be used as stock, but they got stolen off her personal Facebook page after posting them herself. You won't believe where the images wound up!

8.       Gotham 7.5K A Rare High Altitude Night Flight Above NYC

AERIAL, BY NIGHT: "Gotham From Above" was shot from a helicopter 7,500 feet above the ground of New York. Capturing aerial photographs can be quite a challenge; helicopters vibrate, so the photographer had to use a relatively high shutter speed. This project showcases the scale of New York City.

 

9.       Photographer armed with just a SWORD braves threat of wolves and -50C in Siberia to snap awe-inspiring Northern Lights images

-50C AURORA BOREALIS: Into the Siberian wilderness, a Russian photographer ventured to capture images of the Northern Lights. Because of temperatures (as low as -50C), the photographer designed a coat to protect his camera. We applaud this photographer for braving such harsh conditions for the sake of art. Take a look at the results!

 

10.   Stunning Photos of Acrobatic Dancer Leap and Twirl Amid Dynamic Clouds of Powder

COMMERCIAL VS. FINE ART: Check out this high art marketing campaign. An acrobat dances in a cloud of powdered milk to create the most stunning photography designed to sell creamer. Did this approach make you crave creamer?

 

Enjoy this week's blog posts? Check back next week for more excitement! If you have a blog you want us to check out, let us know on theLoop!

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By: Lauren Walters

Happy New Year! Catch up on the new blog posts of 2015 (thus far!).

1.       Maps Showing the Pro Photography Landscape in the United States

STATISTICS: Take a look at the newly released statistics about employed professional photographers in 2013. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated about 54,830 professional photographers were employed in the US in 2013, excluding self-employed photographers (which from our stand point significantly skews the data, but that's why there's the Benchmark). Also, a few of the top cities for employed photographers are Los Angeles, Orlando, New York, Atlanta, and Chicago. Can you believe that Washington D.C. has the highest average annual pay for professional photographers?!

2.       Live From Yosemite's El Capitan: Photographer Captures Attempt at History-Making Climb

INSPIRATION: Climbing the 3,000-foot El Cap is hard enough, but capturing the action is quite the challenge. National Geographic photographer and filmmaker Corey Rich attempts to capture rock climbers Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell scale El Cap. Read more about the struggle and similarities between the photographers and the climbers.

3.       Renaming your Photos on Import with Adobe Lightroom

ORGANIZATION: Developing a file structure can keep your work easily accessible. In Adobe Lightroom, you can use their built-in template if you like. The author of this blog uses a similar structure. Renaming your photos can be helpful when you've been shooting for multiple days with multiple cameras.

4.       20 Photographer-Specific Things You Can Do Today To Start 2015 Off Right

PERSONAL GROWTH: Consider some of the following tips to feel refreshed for the New Year: Calibrate your monitor, install a new hard drive, re-print some new studio samples, implement email filters, restock office supplies, and check your credit card statements. Continue reading this blog for more ways to relax and start fresh in 2015! Well, of course, all of that is on top of coming to Imaging USA!

5.       Preparing and Packing A Portable Studio Efficiently

HOW TO: Is your studio mobile? Learn how to effectively pack your supplies on the go! Every photographer carries different supplies and in varying quantities. No matter the variance, one will need a rolling storage bin that is padded on the inside such as a Stanley mobile tool box from Home Depot. Bungee cords and a rolling cart are also used for efficient transportation.  

6.       Useful Photography Tip #127: The Importance of Turning Negative Energies into Creativity

POSITIVE VIBES: Do unfortunate events leave you feeling unproductive? Next time you have a bad day, don't throw in the towel. As creative people, photographers have the gift of capturing emotion. Channel your negative energy into a positive experience!

7.       The 2 Faces of Running a Photography Business

DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE: As a photographer, running a business can be difficult when you're being pulled toward creative endeavors. Try setting a time limit to your sessions, and plan out your creativity. Most importantly, learn to say no to yourself and others by making financially sound choices. Get this advice and more from the Law Tog!

 

8.       9 Tips To Help You Get Sharp Focus At Night

NIGHT OWLS: Love to shoot at night? Learn how to sharpen your focus! Most cameras use contrast detection to focus; aim for an area of high contrast. Instead of focusing on the midpoint of the frame, focus on the edge of the frame to regain focus.

9.       The Ansel Adams Act Goes To Congress; Details Clear Laws Protecting 1st Amendment Rights Of Photographers

COPYRIGHT: Violation of the First Amendment has led to photographers being wrongly accused. Because of this conundrum, a state of Texas representative brought the Ansel Adams Act to light intending to reinstate the First Amendment. On January 2, 2015 Congress was confronted with the Ansel Adams Act outlining the need for clarity for photographer's rights.

 

10.   Creating Compelling B&W Aerial Images in Backlit Situations

TECHNICALLY SOUND: Make the most out of Lightroom for those significant details. The described method entails intentional overexposure of the photos. This overexposure picks up the shadows and details making your blacks blacker.

 

Enjoy the new blog posts of 2015! Have specific blogs or topics in mind that you'd like us to feature? Tell us on theLoop.

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PPA's CEO, David Trust, is on Capitol Hill today for several meetings with key people in the ongoing talks on issues that affect photographers. Much of today's meetings center upon the commercial use of drone photography. As previously reported here on the blog, PPA has begun discussions for exemptions to be made which would allow PPA photographers to use drones on commercial shoots.

We'll update you as more information trickles down from D.C.!

This morning, David met with Brian Northcutt and Chris Grieco of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security.

 

Said David, "It's interesting how many different issues and concerns the drone photography discussion crosses. It's becoming more apparent that this is a complex issue that will require a complex fix." 

By John Owens

According to HBO's The Newsroom, our elections are the envy of the world. We had one Tuesday... and you won't believe what happened next! (Sorry, feeble attempt at click-bating.) 

Seriously, the election results could have major, big picture ramifications when it comes to copyright reform, so let's take a look at how the night went.

What Tuesday's Elections Mean for Photographers

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Tuesday's midterm elections saw the Republican Party take the control of the Senate and maintain a majority of the House of Representatives. Copyright issues tend to be somewhat bipartisan, so it is unclear if the shift in power in the Senate would change much for photographers. What is certain is that there will be many new faces on Capitol Hill, and that means PPA will be working hard to introduce ourselves and to help them understand the unique perspective of small-business copyright. Preparations are already under way!  

In terms of the committee members with which we work closely, most of the people in key positions actually weren't up for re-election and will maintain their roles. However, with Republicans in control of the Senate, there will be a change in leadership there.  Charles Grassley (R-IA), the current ranking member, is expected to trade places with outgoing Chairman Pat Leahy (D-VT) 

On the house side, Howard Coble, R-6th, North Carolina. Coble, a longtime advocate for photographers and friend of PPA, will step down as Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property. It's unclear who will replace Coble as chairman of the subcommittee, but Darrel Issa, R-49th, California, is a leading candidate. Other possible successors are subcommittee vice chairman Tom Marino, R-10th, Pennsylvania, and Jim Sensenbrenner, R-5th, Wisconsin. Republican majority on both the Judiciary Committee and Subcommittee on Intellectual Property will be maintained regardless of the new appointees. 

Bob Goodlatte, R-6th, Virginia, is expected to return as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and continue his lengthy copyright review in January or February. In the meantime during the lame duck sessions, it appears issues like DOJ oversight, patent litigation reform and immigration (among others) will take precedent.

As always, we'll have more for you as things develop on the Hill!  


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John Owens is PPA's resident wordsmith. Know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? That's where he comes in. The Connecticut transplant and (still) avid Hartford Whalers fan is an aspiring adventurist/novelist/racer on a lifelong quest to find the best trails, brews and burgers and wishes Taylor Swift would just stop. 



PPA Makes a Fall Visit to Washington

Last week, PPA's Copyright and Government Affairs department met with a series of committees and subcommittees on the Hill in order to help determine future political strategy. 

A big part of the discussions in the committees was commercial policy for a pretty polarizing and popular topic of late. You guessed it--drones! PPA argued for exemptions to be made for PPA photographers in regards to the use of drones.

It's worth noting that midterm elections happen November 4th and there will be a lame duck session after that to an undetermined time. A lame duck session occurs when Congress meets with elected successors post-midterm elections but before the successor's term begins. Because it is unknown who will be elected, it is difficult to forecast exactly what will happen in a lame duck session. 

However, Tom Chapman, Counsel to the Subcommittee on Aviation, Safety, and Security, thought it was likely that significant change in drone policy could occur as early as the lame duck session. Specifically, things could change in response to the FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2012 which instructed the FAA to safely introduce drones into the national air space. This change in policy is forecasted as a result of the current influx of drone exemption applications that the FAA has recently received. While commercial drone use is illegal, the FAA allows exemptions to be applied for under §333 of the 2012 Act

So as it stands, the use of drones is still technically illegal, so use at your own risk! We will keep you updated as the situation develops. 

Another central issue with copyright policy is that there is no small claims remedial process. Because of the disenfranchisement of all people in federal court, the Copyright Office agreed with PPA that there needs to be a type of federal small claims court, which would thereby allow for copyright claims to be made without an attorney. PPA argued this is necessary to help all persons through the legal system. 

PPA has long stressed the importance of a small claims court for federal suits and the proposal of a federal small claims court was generally well received. How legislators will attempt to go about this is still up for debate due to constitutional conflicts, particularly in reference to Article III of the Constitution.  

PPA will continue to be a voice for photographers on Capitol Hill. Have an issue you think we need to address? Please let us know!

We've received word from some PPA photographers that Getty Images has been sending out some unsolicited emails with YOUR images in them as a way to catch your attention and get you to become a contributing member for their libraries of stock images. Slightly unethical! (We'll explain...) 

We're not here to give you advice on whether or not to contribute to iStock, but rather to address another question: Are Getty Images/iStock infringing on your copyrights by sending you an email with your images which they did not ask your permission to use? 

The simple answer is technically, yes; however it's probably not enough to warrant any legal action. (Note: We did NOT say definitely.) The reason why is where things get interesting, because it seems that Getty/iStock have found a bit of a loophole in the law. We brought in PPA Copyright attorney, Stephen P. Morris to help explain.

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. 

Update 7/16:

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

walmart1.jpg

 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!

 

 



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