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By Sidra Safri
As we come to the end of another fantastic year, a lot has happened in the world of Small Claims. And what better time to look back and see all the progress we have made!

December 2016: Representative Judy Chu and Representative Lamar Smith introduced a Copyright Small Claims bill. This was done on the last day of the Congressional session to send a message to fellow Representatives that this was something in works. It also gave many Representatives the ability to review what a Copyright Small Claims Process would entail and familiarize themselves with the issue. 

January to March of 2017: With the new administration coming in, Small Claims had to be put on the back burner. However, during this time PPA continued to make rounds on Capitol Hill. PPA set up approximately 15 meetings with key members of the House Judiciary to ensure the importance of Small Claims was ever present, and explain where things were in the process. 

March to August 2017: During these months, the most crucial work was being done. Not only was PPA continuously meeting with members of Congress about Copyright Small Claims, but also working on key provisions that would continue to protect photographers and creative artists alike. During this time is when Representative Judy Chu, Representative Lamar Smith, Representative Jeffries, and Representative Marino, all began working on the possibility of having one Small Claims bill. As a reminder, last Congressional Session Representative Chu and Smith introduced their own version of the bill, and Representative Jeffries and Representative Marino introduced their own versions. When comparing the two bills, they had plenty of similarities, thus paving the way for collaboration upon introduction. 

October 2017: Copyright Alternative in Small Claims Enforcement Act of 2017 (CASE Act) was introduced as H.R. 3495. This bill was introduced by Representative Jefferies and Representative Marino, and immediately co-sponsored by Representative Collins, Representative Chu, Representative Smith, and Representative Lieu. 

November to December 2017: Now that we have a bill, in order to ensure that it can makes its way through the House and on to the Senate, it is imperative to gain as many co-sponsors as possible. During these months, PPA met with 20+ Representatives to highlight the importance of Small Claims, making sure it stayed on their radar. 

We still have a long way to go to make sure that we can get a Copyright Small Claims bill passed, and this will not and cannot happen without you! Stay tuned on what is coming up and join the fight for artists rights and make your voice heard! Send a letter to your Representative at PPA.com/SmallClaims.

By Sidra Safri

Good Morning PPA! 

David Trust and I are back in D.C for another action-packed trip to our nation's capital. Today we are meeting with the Visual Association. As a reminder, this association includes APA, ASMP, DMLA, GAG, NANPA, NPPA, and PPA. During this annual meeting, we all get together to lay out the game plan for Small Claims. This year is more crucial than ever before since we are actively working on getting H.R 3945 passed. 

During this meeting, we will also talk about other problems faced by small creators including trying to figure out when something is considered "published" or "unpublished" and how to effectively use a DMCA claim. 

At this meeting, we will also be joined by Keith Kupferschmid of the Copyright Alliance and possibly a few members of the Copyright Office. We are hoping that during these meetings we will get some great insight on where everything stands and garner more support. 

Finally, we have a great treat in the works for tomorrow! Georgia's own Representative Doug Collins will be on Facebook Live with us tomorrow talking about the CASE act! 

As always do not forget to contact your representative urging them to co-sponsor H.R 3945, this cannot happen without you!

By Sidra Safri

5:02 pm
Day 2 has resulted in some very insightful meetings! The Small Claims panel was a hit, and it did a great job of answering questions that many staffers had. It was also great to have someone from the Copyright Office not only sitting on the panel but also in attendance of the event. We hope this panel will encourage Representatives who are not a familiar with the Small Claims bill to do research and increase the amount of co-sponsors.

After the briefing, we headed over to the Copyright Alliance meeting in Downtown D.C. The Copyright Alliance is an association that consists of various stakeholders in the copyright world. Its members include CBS, NBA, Disney, and more. This meeting is a great opportunity to touch base with the copyright world and see where everyone stands. As always, the Small Claims bill was on the agenda and was discussed at length as to what can be done to ensure the bill passes. We were very happy to see that many facets of the copyright world are dedicated to making Copyright Small Claims a success.

We are heading back to PPA Headquarters in Atlanta, but don't forget to keep sending those letters and calling your representatives! The more often they hear from YOU, the more attention Copyright Small Claims will get! PPA.com/SmallClaims

12:32 pm
Day 2 in DC is off to a great start! We started our morning meeting with Representative Farenthold's office of Texas. This was one of our first meetings with this office and wanted to take the time to share an updated status of the bill. We had some great feedback and were happy to know that the staff consists of people who have worked with the Copyright office. The office was happy that we met with them and brought them up to speed. We are hoping as time goes on we will have this office sign on as a co-sponsor. 

After meeting with Representative Farenthold's office, we stayed in Texas and met with Representative Ratcliffe. Since the staff has recently been changed, we provided a general back ground in why small claims is so important. This office was very open to the struggle that many photographers face and has assured us that they will look into the small claims bill. We will stay in touch with this office to keep them up-to-date. 

After both of these meetings with Texas representatives, we were told that it is absolutely important to continue to send letters and make phone calls. The more contact that is made with the office, the more likely the Representative is to support small claims. 

We are now off to a briefing being held on Capitol Hill about H.R. 3945 and why this is so important. Our allies from the Copyright Alliance Keith Kupferschmid and  Tom Kennedy of ASMP are on the panel. This will be a great opportunity for many staffers to hear about small claims, and hopefully convince them to support this bill. 

We have two more meetings after the briefing. Stayed tuned and remember to send your letters and make your phone calls! PPA.com/SmallClaims.

By Sidra Safri

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Ever found an image and had no idea if it was still protected by copyright? Wondered if it was already considered to be a part of the public domain? What exactly is the public domain? 

Thankfully, here is a simple chart that can help you get started on your search. This chart breaks down what images or creations may still be protected under copyright, or what is already considered public domain. 

This chart is in no way all-inclusive, but it does give you a good idea of where to start. However, there are two key things to remember:

  1. If the original author or creator has passed away, you can contact next of kin. Copyright does transfer similar to property rights. 
  2. Public Domain is when the original author's copyright has expired, and they failed to renew their copyright, and so the copyrighted work was then made available to the public. Any creation categorized as public domain is free for the public to use without having to worry about copyright laws. 

When was the image published:

How long will the copyright last:

If the work was published before 1923

This image is considered to be a part of the public domain. Nothing new will be considered public domain until 2019.

1923 to 1977

1923-1963: Work is considered to be public domain if the copyright was not renewed during this interim. If the work was renewed, the copyright will last for 95 years from date of initial publication.


1964-1977: Unlike images produced between 1923 and 1963, the copyright does not have to be renewed and will automatically last for 95 years from the date of first publication.


In both cases, if the image was created but not published before 1978, the copyright will last for the author's lifetime plus another 70 years. If the creator died more than 70 years ago, then the copyright may last until December 31, 2047, if it was published before December 31, 2002.

1978 or later

The copyright will last for the life of the creator plus an additional 70 years.


If the work was for-hire, was created using a pseudonym, or was anonymous, the copyright will last for 95 years from the date it was first published or 120 years from when it was first created, whichever one is shorter.


*Note: this information not meant to be taken as legal advice. When in doubt or for legal advice, contact a local attorney.* 

It is also worth noting that, for works published before March 1, 1989, the use of © copyright notice is mandatory. For any work published after this date, it is recommended to include the copyright notice, but is not a requirement. 

To stay informed on copyright matters, boomark PPA.com/Copyright!

By Sidra Safri

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You are casually scrolling through social media or your favorite magazine, and a certain picture catches your eye. Upon further inspection, you realize that published image is yours! You quickly get excited and begin looking for your name in the photo credits, and it dawns on you... the image was used without your permission! Now what??

As frustrating as this can be, you are not alone. There are a few steps you can take before you run to contact an attorney, because let's be real: attorneys are expensive! 

The first thing you want to do it use PPA's Copyright Infringement Tool. This quick questionnaire will help you assess your copyright abuse situation and tell you what your best course of action is, depending on each particular case. 

Second, as annoyed as you might be, contact the infringing party. Talk to them, ask how they got your image, and let them know you are the proper copyright owner of the image in question. Sometimes, the image is used carelessly; other times, someone dropped the ball somewhere. 

Often, your connecting with them will rectify the situation and will get the image removed. But there are situations where this won't work. 

If, after talking to the infringer and explaining that your work was used without your permission, the person(s) still do not cooperate, the next thing to do is to send a certified copyright infringement letter. In this letter, you will cite Federal copyright law and why the use of the image without your permission is a violation of your copyright. You can also include additional demands, such as payment or simply the requirement to stop using the image. Sending this certified letter also puts the infringing party on notice, which is a requirement before any legal proceedings can begin. 

If your image was infringed on a digital format (social media, website, etc.), you should also send a Digital Millennium Copyright Act Letter (DMCA Letter). This cease and desist DMCA letter once again puts the infringer on notice. Attempt to address the letter to someone who is in charge of publishing or upper management such as a director, manger, etc., as they are familiar with the legal implications of this letter. 

If, after sending a letter and putting the infringing party on notice, they still refuse to comply, at this point it may be appropriate to have a local attorney inform the infringing party that they are in violation of Copyright law. 

Most of the time, the combination of these steps will get your image removed and can even provide you with compensation. 

Keep in mind that with the current makeup of copyright law, it may not be worth pursuing a claim in Federal Court, since you may spend more than you will get back. That is why it is so important, now more than ever, to push Congress for a Copyright Small Claims process! This would allow photographers like you to resolve infringement cases without having to spend thousands of dollars in court. 

To learn more, visit PPA.com/Copyright. And if you too want the copyright system to change, show your support at PPA.com/SmallClaims. Good luck, and thank you in advance!

By Chris Homer

One of PPA's mission is to campaign for the reform of the current (and inadequate!) U.S. Copyright Law. Our current system does little to protect professional photographers from damages when their work is used without their permission. And this makes no sense as the copyright system is supposed to protect copyright owners like you!

Often times, 'a picture is worth a thousand words' so we created some cartoons to illustrate this cockamamie system. The idea behind these illustrations is two-fold: (1) to share something you'll relate to and (2) give you something you can share with your clients and fellow photographers to convey the inequity in copyright law. You can download both Copyright Infringement illustrations here (in 2 sizes). Consider sharing them on social media today!


To learn more about what PPA is doing to change copyright law by pushing for a Copyright Small Claims system, visit PPA's advocacy page

And if you'd like to see progress made with copyright protection, please join the group of photographers who are joining in solidarity for copyright change, the Copyright Action Team, to show your support and know how and when to make your voice heard in Congress! Help make a difference and add your name today: PPA.com/Grassroots

ch_headshot_100x100.jpgAbout the author:
Chris Homer is PPA's SEO & Web Specialist, which basically makes Google Analytics his best friend. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Chris cheers passionately (and obnoxiously) for the Bulldogs in all things from football to checkers. When he's not hard at work on PPA's websites, you'll find Chris at auto racing events around the southeast, where he's known as a master architect of tent villages.

By Sidra Safri
Many photographers know that as soon as they press the shutter button on their camera, they fully own the copyrights to that image. 

Some photographers will take it one step further and register their images with the U.S. Copyright Office. Registering your images makes it easier to determine that you own the copyright, and allows the registration holder (you!) to claim increased statutory damages, and possibly attorney's fees, if your images are used, sold, or reprinted without your permission! 

In order to register your photographic work, you must go to the Copyright Office's Website and create a free account to fill out your registration application. Once you are logged in, you'll want to click on "Register a New Claim". From here, the website will walk you through what needs to happen to successfully register your work. You can also visit the Copyright Office's step by step guide here. 

Registration is an important step in protecting your copyright. And PPA encourages all professional photographers to do it as part of their regular workflow. However, due to how complex, archaic, time-consuming, and expensive the registration process can be (yes, we think the system needs to be improved!), many of you will systematically fail to register your work. But this can change if more copyright holders, like photographers, push to modernize the Copyright Office. 

If you agree that change needs to happen and the copyright registration system needs to match the 21st century's technology needs and volume, then sign up today to show your support as PPA leads a large  Grassroots Action Team to push for these changes to happen. We're currently 11,000 strong. Add your voice to help us create a louder message at PPA.com/Grassroots

By Sidra Safri

Many photographers have complained about the archaic registration system of the Copyright Office, how long the process takes and, overall, how cumbersome it is. Thankfully, these complaints have not fallen on deaf ears. 

In 2013, the Copyright Office began looking into potential updates to the overall IT system that impacts the registration process. This research lead to the creation of a report stating it was necessary to create a better user-interface and more accurate public record.

On May 9th, 2017, the Copyright Office rolled out a pilot program for Bulk Submission of Claims to Copyright. This pilot program will serve a very small niche of creators, since it will only be available for literary works (such as fiction, nonfiction, autobiographies, etc.). Single literary works that have single authors, with all the work being owned and created by that single author, are eligible for the bulk registration program.

Even though this program is not available to photographers, the Copyright Office is taking a step in the right direction to make the process easier and faster. Through this pilot process they will be able to work out any issues that arise, and eventually (we hope) roll out the bulk submission process for all categories.

PPA will keep you updated as developments unfold, so stay tuned to PPA.com/Advocacy for the latest. 

Want to get in on the ground floor of copyright reform? Sign up today and be a part of the PPA Grassroots Action Team at PPA.com/grassroots!


we_need_your_help.pngWe are very excited to report that members of the House Judiciary Committee are currently working to create legislation which would achieve PPA's top advocacy goal: the creation of a copyright small claims process. 

As a PPA member, help us to advocate for this new legislation on a grassroots level when a bill is introduced. This will take place in the next few weeks! Please join us for an introductory webinar to learn more about how YOU can be involved and help advance copyright for photographers. As PPA mobilizes its efforts on top legislative priorities, YOU CAN HELP! There are 3 sessions to choose from (all the same, just different times):

Prior to the webinar, we encourage you to read more about the issue here. As a professional photographer, you have copyright protection but not an effective means of enforcing your rights. This is because the current system practically excludes the vast majority of creators by not offering an adequate enforcement option for small-business copyright holders. PPA has been advocating for the creation of a copyright small claims process for the past ten years! This issue is vital to every professional photographer throughout America--do not miss out on this opportunity to be part of these positive changes!

Mark your calendar and sign up for one of these 3 webinars: Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. See you then!

Yesterday, PPA's board of directors visited with key staffers and senators on Capitol Hill to voice their concerns on copyright protection. You can view yesterday's post on their visit to get caught up. 

Maria Matthews, manager of PPA's copyright and government affairs department is back with an update on what went down!


We talked, they listened!

On behalf of PPA members and professional photographers everywhere, an excited PPA board of directors spent their Tuesday in our nation's capita. They met with chief counsels, judiciary aides and senators and told their story. They explained the impact copyright theft can have on their business and families--as well as the potential economic impact for their state--and light bulbs went on.

The board asked staffers and senators to deliver this message to the senate: Copyright affects more than just big industry; it impacts mom-and-pop businesses in every corner of their state. Many of the offices we met with agreed that strong copyright laws are essential to ensuring a thriving creative community. They also admitted that most of their efforts on the intellectual property front as of late have been focused on patent and not copyright reform--something they will be looking to remedy!

This visit was great progress for the copyright debate. Next up: Keep lobbying to get the talk moving toward action on the senate!

The board had a great time in D.C. and shared their visit all over social media. Check out their posts below.

(Click the images to view the original posts.)


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PPA will continue to provide updates on the ongoing copyright movement. Things are getting really exciting!

You are invited to submit artwork for a juried digital art show that will take place May 17, 2012, during the five-year anniversary celebration of the Copyright Alliance. PPA is one of the founding members of the Copyright Alliance (our CEO David Trust is a past board member, too).

Called "Connecting Creators: Showcasing the Artists Among Us," the event itself will take place at Microsoft's D.C. office on May 17, 4:30pm - 8:00pm. Submitting your image means you have a chance to win the Best of Show or Honorable Mention awards and be celebrated at the event! In fact, the Best in Show winner gets a chance to tell their story to members of the copyright community on Capitol Hill during a panel discussion from 4:30pm - 5:30pm.

Interested? Don't forget to submit by April 6 at 5:00pm Eastern! Download the complete details and submission form here.

Several years ago, most didn't think twice about burning a copy of a CD or downloading songs off peer-to-peer file sharing sites. Then, the artists and music industry spoke out. More importantly, they increased public education about breaking copyright laws. Now, even DVDs tend to have a "commercial" before the movie that refers to such actions as stealing.

That kind of combined education sends a loud message...and that's the kind of education that can help protect your images from client copyright infringement. This week's article touches on how to begin such copyright education yourself (to both clients and photo retailers). Next week, you'll learn about PPA's shiny new Retail Compliance Network (RECON Program) and how you can be a part of that education.

PPA is always searching for the best way to help you protect your copyrights. Infringements won't disappear instantly, but each educational step can help strengthen your rights and your clients' awareness of them.

Christel Aprigliano
Director of Membership

P.S. Stay tuned for next week's Vital Signs article (May 14). You'll learn more about the revamped Retail Compliance Network--our RECON program--where you can help investigate photo retailers to improve their compliance with copyright laws.

You may recall last month's online uprising when Facebook announced their new Terms of Service policy. In an earlier post, we told you about a letter PPA sent to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's Founder & CEO, in which we applauded Zuckerberg's creation of a "Facebook Bill of Rights & Responsibilities", and offered our expertise and assistance in developing the social media site's newest policy.

Facebook was receptive to PPA's involvement and requested our feedback on the latest version of their proposed "Statement of Rights and Responsibilities." We submitted our comments and suggestions to Facebook last week, and now we're watching and waiting to see what develops.

Based on what we've seen so far, you'll be pleased to know that Facebook has made strides to accommodate photographers, and all copyright owners, who actively maintain Facebook accounts. We'll keep you posted on any new developments as our conversation with Facebook continues.

On March 19, PPA's Chief Executive Officer, David Trust, represented the photography industry on a panel at a Congressional Briefing that included representatives from the music, movie and software industries. The discussion centered on the importance of U.S. Copyright law to the photography industry, the importance of copyright industries to the U.S. economy, and how photographers interact with fellow creators.

The briefing was hosted by the Copyright Alliance, a non-profit, non-partisan educational organization composed of individual creators and leading copyright industry organizations.  A founding member of the Copyright Alliance, PPA was delighted to participate in this event which was well attended by staff members from each chamber's Judiciary Committee, and other Congressional committees, subcommittee's and caucuses that govern intellectual property related issues.

What happens to image licenses when those images are posted to a third-party site?

Facebook found itself in hot water in early February after stating it would continue to hold a usage license on artistic works posted to its pages after the owner of those works deleted them from the site or closed his account. A public outcry elicited a quick about-face from the company. The following day, Facebook issued a statement clearly articulating that its license to use posted images expires when users delete them from the site or close their account.

Dear PPA Member

Technology has made the ability to view and sell images much easier. Unfortunately, it also allows the general public to take images without permission (and in some cases, without payment) and display them online.

Our full-time Copyright & Government Affairs staff does an outstanding job advising members on how to handle such cases of online copyright infringement.

While every situation is unique (from senior clients scanning their favorite portrait to show their friends on Facebook to former commercial clients re-using images after their licensing agreement has ended), there are steps that all photographers can take when images are used without permission--and they're here in this week's article, Defending Yourself Online: Protect Your Images. If you're unfamiliar with what a DMCA takedown notice is--and how powerful it can be--this article is a must read!

PPA strives to help protect, educate, and provide you with the tools and resources to stay successful. We focus on giving you what you need, so you can focus on what's important: your business.

Christel Aprigliano
Director of Membership

P.S. If you're interested in a topic we haven't covered in our weekly Vital Signs newsletter (and think that it might interest other PPA members), please send me an e-mail at caprigliano@ppa.com .
Intellectual property owners can rest a bit easier knowing that the President signed The Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2008, or the PRO-IP Act. With Orphan Works legislation looming, PPA is pleased to see that a bill tightening intellectual property enforcement was swiftly signed into law. PPA has worked vigorously through its involvement in the Copyright Alliance for the bill's passage.

"PPA has been a strong supporter of the PRO-IP Act," stated PPA CEO David Trust. "The passage of this important bill is a victory for photographers and all copyright holders."


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