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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. 



If you weren't watching R Street's Hangout about copyright reform last week, you were missing a seriously concerning conversation.

The question of the day was "Has copyright gone too far?" 

R Street invited Tom W. Bell, author of the book Intellectual Privilege, Derek Khanna of R Street, Mitch Stoltz of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Ryan Radia of the Competitive Enterprise Institute to express their opinions. The discussion began with each of the panelists introducing their take on modern copyright law, and what he thought should be done about them. 

While each panelist agreed that modern copyright law needed to be worked on, they disagreed on what needed to be fixed - Bell argued for "the founders' idea of copyright," in reference to the Copyright Act of 1790 and soon the discussion turned to upholding outdated laws and applying them to modern society. Those in the online audience who asked questions about how this was working against the little guy - i.e., freelance writers, e-book authors, small creative business owners - were largely ignored, and their plight in fighting infringement was only briefly acknowledged. Some of the panelists even suggested that they shouldn't have property-like protections for their work because it would stifle others' creativity.

Um, excuse me?

But the talk ended on a note that everyone could agree on: "We can do better than what we have," Bell said.

Yes, indeed! But it's up to us to initiate this change. And when we say 'us', we mean all of us image creators, photographers, artists at large! As you know, PPA is representing photographers on Capitol Hill, month after month, advocating for small business copyright owners. You should join the movement for copyright reform so that things CAN move forward sooner than later. How? Simply letting your opinion known to your local representative (this hyperlink will help you identify who's yours!) You may think that your impact is a small water droplet, but if we ALL take a moment to tell them why it's important to protect our works, we'll be that much more. If you don't quite know what to say, you can check back to the blog for a template letter you can use. After all, what is an ocean but a multitude of drops? In the mean time, here are some easy ways to help you contact Congress!


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PPA is proud to announce a HUGE agreement the Nickles Group to help us out on Capitol Hill. This will put us front and center during the ongoing copyright discussion at the most critical time. Momentum is really building toward that Next Great Copyright Act and we will now be more plugged in than ever. 


In fact, with the Nickles Group, we're now the only photography association with a full-time presence! This agreement is a really big deal and you need to know about it.


Here is the press release in its entirety:

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Professional Photographers of America (PPA) announced today it has reached an agreement with The Nickles Group, LLC, to represent PPA on Capitol Hill. The Nickles Group will help the association's lobbying efforts for photographers' copyrights.

Through the Nickles Group, one of the preeminent lobbying firms on the Hill, PPA will be at the center of the action on a daily basis. Using the Nickles Group's extensive network, PPA will make introductions, build relationships and arrange meetings with key players and also create opportunities to testify at Congressional hearings. The partnership looks to build upon the strong foundation PPA has established in Washington over the past 15 years.

Founded in 2005, the Nickles Group brings together an accomplished team of public policy advocates and experts to provide strategic advice, policy development and political navigation for clients seeking to engage in the federal legislative or executive process.

"We're pleased to join forces with the PPA to be an important advocate for the rights of photographers and other creators," said Don Nickles, chairman and CEO of The Nickles Group. "With copyright issues becoming more complex as Congress reviews the laws that govern rights, we look forward to partnering with PPA and impacting policy for the better."

Nickles, a Senator for the state of Oklahoma from 1981 to 2005 certainly knows his way around the Hill. In his tenure, Nickles built a legacy of advancing free enterprise causes, from natural gas deregulation and repeat of the windfall profits tax in the 1980s, to repeal of onerous ergonomics regulation and the fight against federalized healthcare during the Clinton Administration. He was the author of the Congressional Review Act and the Child Citizenship Act, and the principal sponsor of President Bush's economic growth package in 2003, which cut capital gains and corporate dividend taxes to 15 percent.

Thanks to this agreement PPA now has the ability to put its members front and center, a coup for PPA given the recent discussions on orphan works and the U.S. Copyright office's push for the Next Great Copyright Act. 

"This could not come at a better time for us," said David Trust, CEO of PPA. "We are entering one of the most critical eras in the history of copyright law. This relationship with the Nickles Group will ensure that PPA members, and photographers in general, will have an increased position in the copyright discussion on Capitol Hill."

The Nickles Group represents the likes of the Comcast, Eli Lilly and Company, Exxon Mobil and now PPA. The agreement makes PPA the only professional photography association with a full-time presence on Capitol Hill.

In addition to having the photography world's only copyright and government affairs department, PPA provides a wealth of resources for photographers online, including sample contracts and model releases. For more information, visit ppa.com/copyright.

 

Of course, as the Nickles Group reports back to us, we will forward the info on to you! Things are really cooking up there in Washington. BE MORE!

 

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Want a copyright update? You got it!

PPA's board of directors is back on Capitol Hill today to visit U.S. Senate offices. They're returning to drive home a message--that strong copyright laws are critical to the small business photographer.

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The board takes to the Hill during a very active period in the copyright reform efforts.  While there have been a number of recent roundtables hosted by the U.S. Copyright Office and regular copyright themed hearings held by the House of Representatives, activity on the copyright front has been relatively quiet on the Senate side.

But no longer! Each board member will meet with at least one of their home state's senators and offer firsthand insight on what it means to be a professional photographer in today's world. Hopefully hearing about the importance of strong copyright laws directly from working photographers that are among their constituency will urge these senators to champion the cause within the Senate. And from there... some new legislation!

And don't forget, while the board is on the hill advocating for your copyrights, you can take action too! Sign up to participate in Copyright Awareness Month and spread the word.

Look for a recap from the board's visit to Capitol Hill soon!

 

 

 



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