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Professional Photographers of America celebrated the passage of H.R. 1695 (the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act), marking the first important step in the association's goal to modernize the U.S. copyright system. 

H.R. 1695 makes the Register of Copyrights, who leads the United States Copyright Office (USCO), a presidentially-appointed, Senate-confirmed position. HR 1695 gives the Register the autonomy to modernize the Copyright Office to suit the specialized needs of the copyright system. PPA has been activating its 30,000-member base to call or email their representatives in support of the bill. 

"So much effort went into this," says PPA CEO David Trust, "and everyone who took 30 seconds to submit their letters should feel proud about what we accomplished together. So, today is a day for smiles and congratulations. Tomorrow we start preparing for a much tougher fight in the Senate."

Cindi Marifield, President R2P Strategies, representing PPA in D.C. says, "It is fitting that on World Intellectual Property Day, the House overwhelmingly passed H.R. 1695, the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act.   There are not many bills that pass with overwhelming bi-partisan support these days (378 to 48) and it is a tribute to Chairman Goodlatte, Ranking Member Conyers, Congressman Doug Collins and Congresswoman Judy Chu and their staff who worked deliberately and effectively to pass this legislation.  This bill is a great first step toward bolstering the Copyright Office and we look forward to both Chambers taking up and passing legislation to create a small claims process for individual creators as efforts to modernize the Copyright Office heat up." 



Wednesday, April 26th

3:30pm 
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HR 1695 has passed through the House with overwhelming support! The vote was 378-48 and Rep. Chu was able to put in an ammendment favoring the Small Claims process. 

A big thanks to everyone who took the time to call or write your representative. This was a major victory in our fight for better copyright protection. 

Stay tuned for updates...


9:00am

pictured: Karyn Temple Claggett, acting Register of Copyright

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Happy World IP Day!  We kicked things off this morning with a Facebook Live video explaining World IP Day and how it aims to thank creative artists, photographers, graphic designers and all other creators for everything they do and how colorful they make the world! 

PPA also wants to take a moment and thank all of our wonderful members for making the world so much more beautiful! Besides the excitement of World IP Day in D.C, we are even more excited about H.R 1695. We have been told that it is still scheduled to be debated and voted on later this afternoon. In the meantime, it is important to continue to send letters and make phone calls reminding our representatives how important this bill is to creative artists and photographers! This is the first step in modernizing the copyright office, and will set the stage for small claims in the future.

PPA will be alternating celebrating World IP Day at the Library of Congress and meeting with Senator Dick Durbin (R-IL), Frank Cullen of the US Chamber of Commerce, Senator Deb Fisher (R-NE) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). It is imperative that we begin meeting with the Senate side to continue to prep members for H.R 1695 and lay the foundation for Small Claims. 

We will keep you updated throughout the day and hopefully have some great news for you before we leave D.C!

by Sidra Safri
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As you already know, PPA is making big push this week to get H.R. 1695 passed. The passage of H.R. 1695 would make the Register of Copyright a Presidential Appointment that would be vetted by the Senate both before and after being chosen. However, as with anything in D.C and on Capitol Hill, is it is always important to consider what would happen if H.R. 1695 does not pass.

If H.R. 1695 is unable to get the votes it needs tomorrow, the Register of Copyright would continue to answer to the Librarian of Congress. The Librarian of Congress and the Register of Copyrights have inherently opposing jobs. The Librarian is responsible for capturing a screen shot of society and being able to share it with everyone. On the other hand, the Register is responsible for making sure creators are being given their credit and compensation, which limits free-and-wide usage.  

The biggest setback if H.R. 1695 does not pass would be the difficulty modernization and Small Claims legislation would face. These goals would be significantly harder to achieve. Even if the Copyright Office is given a face-lift and is brought into the 21st century, able to hear disputes regarding copyright infringements, it would still answer to the Register of Copyright. Basically, all the "modernization" would be made for nothing. The librarian would still control what and how the register operates. This would be a huge setback considering that the Librarian does not have the same in-depth knowledge of copyright issues as the Register.

Not passing H.R. 1695 would make any and all work being put into the copyright office a waste. The good news is that PPA does believe that H.R. 1695 will pass. There is bi-partisan support for this bill and constant agreement that something needs to be done about the Copyright Office. Between the ancient workings of the Copyright Office and the abrupt removal of the Register in October of 2016, this is the momentum creative artists and photographers needs to get the House to pass H.R. 1695. 

Be sure to email and call your representative now! 

Professional Photographers of America and the Copyright Alliance Throw Support Behind HR 1695 on World IP Day. 

Bipartisan bill, currently in House, seeks to make Register of Copyrights a presidential appointee.  

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for copyright_Support-HR-1695.png(Atlanta, GA) April 24, 2017--Professional Photographers of America (PPA) and The Copyright Alliance will be in Washington D.C. on April 26, 2017 to attend the Copyright Matters program in the capitol, celebrating the 17th annual World IP Day. World Intellectual Property Day will feature panel discussions with several lawmakers and the artists directly affected by copyright issues. This year's celebration comes during a critical time, as PPA and the Copyright Alliance have announced their impassioned support of HR 1695, a bill meant to help strengthen copyright protections for visual artists across the United States. Visual artists include illustrators, graphic designers, artists, photographers, visual journalists, videographers, and others who create and license their works for the news media, magazines, advertising, books and other publications, consumer products, digital platforms, multimedia presentations, and broadcast. Typically, they are one-or-two-person businesses and small, family enterprises that not only create, but also are responsible for running all facets of a small business. PPA has been mobilizing its members and anyone who supports small businesses and the arts to contact their representative to support HR 1695 via letters and phone calls.


To help facilitate the marketplace for creative works, visual artists have long called for modernizing the U.S. Copyright Office (USCO). That goal is one step closer to reality with the introduction of HR 1695, the Register of Copyrights and Selection and Accountability Act, which would make the Register of Copyrights, who leads the USCO, a presidentially-appointed, Senate-confirmed position. The bill recently passed out of the House Judiciary Committee by the overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 27-1 and is supported by the Copyright Alliance, a coalition of 46 companies that includes the RIAA, Disney, and Professional Photographers of America. 

The U.S. Copyright Office, which resides in the Library of Congress, maintains copyright registration and recordation databases upon which creators, licensees, users and consumers depend, but which have become outdated. Indeed, despite repeated calls by former Registers for reform, including releasing the most forward-looking IT plan in the Office's history, the USCO has been unable to modernize because it lacks the autonomy to do so. The Office's efforts have been frustrated as it is housed within the Library of Congress where it competes with many other Library priorities for resources, technology and staff. This arrangement may have worked in the past, but the creative economy now contributes $1.2 trillion to the U.S. GDP and supports 5.5 million jobs. PPA and the Copyright Alliance believe that HR 1695 would give the Register the autonomy to modernize the Copyright Office to suit the specialized needs of the copyright system. HR 1695 would also elevate the office of the Register to a stature commensurate with the economic sector to which the duties of the Office are so critical. 

The U.S. Copyright Office also has a policy mission, statutorily acting as Congress' impartial advisor on copyright law and policy. Historically, that Office has been a resource to Congress, providing counsel on issues large and small. This is particularly important for individual creators and small businesses, for without this dedicated "think tank," Congress might not hear the plight of creators, like photographers,  on critical issues such as how to handle copyright infringement claims too small to justify the expense of undertaking a federal law suit. PPA and the Copyright Alliance believe that the U.S. Copyright Office must have the autonomy necessary to continue its vital advisory role to Congress and a presidential appointee position would make this a reality.

Some critics of the legislation have suggested that elevating the Register is an attempt to "give more power to Hollywood". Without a doubt, the USCO's technological shortcomings affect visual artists far more than movie studios and record labels. For instance, Variety reported that 563 movies were released in 2014 by the entire movie industry, which is a relatively small number of copyrights to register for an entire year. By contrast, a single photographer can take well over 500 photos in one session, and may create as many as 50,000 individual photographs per year. Further, unlike large entertainment companies, these artists, like photographers do not have the luxury of in-house professionals who can dedicate their time to navigating the complexities of the registration process. As a result, many visual artists forgo registration, which then makes defending one's rights in court a virtual impossibility. Put another way, the U.S. Copyright Office's problems represent a de facto regressive tax--the smaller the creator, the more adversely they are impacted.

PPA and the Copyright Alliance will use the timing of the World IP Day festivities to place a spotlight on HR 1695. It is their belief that, especially with public attention turned toward copyright matters, Congress should take an important first step towards fixing these problems and pass HR 1695. By ensuring the Register has the autonomy necessary to begin implementing operational reforms and continuing to provide impartial advice, visual artists and all creators will be able to continue creating works that contribute to the American economy and help shape our society in the digital age. 

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

About the Copyright Alliance:
The Copyright Alliance is the unified voice of the copyright community, representing the interests of thousands of individuals and organizations across the spectrum of copyright disciplines. The Copyright Alliance is dedicated to advocating policies that promote and preserve the value of copyright, and to protecting the rights of creators and innovators.

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Sometimes in order to get to your final destination, there are a few things that need to be done along the way. This is one of those things. PPA has been concentrating on Copyright Small Claims lately, but there's a bill in the House of Representatives that needs our attention now!

H.R 1695 allows the position of Register of Copyrights to become a presidential appointee. This ensures that someone with ample knowledge of the copyright world leads the office in an unbiased manner, as it begins to undergo the modernization process. This change will also guarantee the office is able to serve all creative artists the way it was designed to. Making sure the office takes a step in the right direction will not be possible without YOU! 

Please take 30 seconds and click here to send a letter to your representative or click here to give them a call! PPA has done the scripting and writing for you, so no worries. It's time to pass this legislation!

UPDATE: 
Since we have put out this call to action, certain districts across the country have called saying they are unable to send a letter or make a call to their representatives. This is because their district currently does not have a representative and we are waiting for the results of their special elections. The following is a list of states/districts that are going to be affected by this, and the dates of the elections:

Special Elections (House)

  • Kansas 4th District- just had elections on April 11th and will take some time to set up office and contact information. 
  • Entire State of Montana- Only has one representative and their election is on May 25th
  • California 34th District- Just had election April 4th and will take some time to set up office and contact information
  • Georgia 6th- Election is April 18th 
  • South Carolina 5th- Election is May 2nd
  • Pennsylvania 10th- Election is TBD


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Guest post by Tom Kennedy, Lara Kisielewska, Akili-Casundria Ramsess, Juliette Wolf-Robin, and David Trust.

Most everyone knows the phrase "a picture is worth a thousand words." It captures the notion that one image can instantly convey complex ideas and world events, changing how we think individually and as societies. For instance, who could forget the picture of an American sailor kissing a woman in Times Square, which expressed the elation, joy and excitement of the nation as World War II came to an end. And the 1989 image of a lone protestor standing before oncoming tanks in Tiananmen Square still resonates deeply today. In both cases, visual artists--who depend on strong copyright protections to make a living--captured those iconic images. 

Visual artists include illustrators, graphic designers, artists, photographers, visual journalists, videographers, and others who create and license their works for the news media, magazines, advertising, books and other publications, consumer products, digital platforms, multimedia presentations, and broadcast. Typically, they are one-or-two-person businesses and small family enterprises that not only create, but are responsible for running all facets of a small business.

To help facilitate the marketplace for creative works, visual artists have long called for modernizing the US Copyright Office. That's why we strongly support HR 1695, the Register of Copyrights and Selection and Accountability Act, which would make the Register of Copyrights, who leads the USCO, a presidentially appointed, Senate confirmed position. The bill recently passed out of the House Judiciary Committee by the overwhelming bipartisan vote of 27-1.

The Copyright Office, which resides in the Library of Congress, maintains copyright registration and recordation databases upon which creators, licensees, users and consumers depend, but which are sadly outdated. Indeed, despite repeated calls by former Registers for reform, including releasing the most forward looking IT plan in the Office's history, it has been unable to modernize because it lacks the autonomy to do so. The Office's efforts have been frustrated because it resides in the Library of Congress where it competes with many other Library priorities for resources, technology and staff. This arrangement may have worked in the past, but the creative economy now contributes $1.2 trillion to GDP and supports 5.5 million jobs. The Register must be given the autonomy to modernize the Office to suit the specialized needs of the copyright system. And it is appropriate that the office of the Register be elevated to a stature commensurate with the economic sector to which the duties of the Office are so critical.

The Office also has an important policy mission, statutorily acting as Congress' impartial advisor on copyright law and policy. Historically, the Copyright Office has been an invaluable resource to the Congress, providing expert counsel on issues large and small. This is particularly important for individual creators and small businesses, for without this dedicated "think tank," Congress might not hear the plight of our creative members on critical issues such as how to handle copyright infringement claims too small to justify the expense of a federal law suit. The Copyright Office must have the autonomy necessary to continue its vital advisory role to Congress.

Some critics of the legislation have suggested that elevating the Register is an attempt to "give more power to Hollywood"--something we in the visual arts community find puzzling. Without a doubt, the Copyright Office's technological shortcomings affect visual artists far more than movie studios and record labels. For instance, Variety reported that 563 movies were released in 2014 by the entire movie industry, which is a relatively small number of copyrights to register for an entire year. By contrast, a single photographer can take over 500 photos in one shoot, and may create as many as 50,000 individual photographs per year. Further, unlike large entertainment companies, we don't have the luxury of in-house professionals who can dedicate their time to navigating the complexities of the registration process. As a result, many visual artists forego registration, which then makes defending one's rights in court a virtual impossibility. Put another way, the Copyright Office's problems are a de facto regressive tax--the smaller the creator, the more adversely they are impacted.

Congress should swiftly pass HR 1695, thereby taking an important first step towards fixing these problems. By ensuring the Register has the autonomy necessary to begin implementing operational reforms and continuing to provide impartial advice, Congress will help ensure that visual artists and all creators can continue creating works that contribute to our economy and help shape our society in the digital age.

Tom Kennedy is the Executive Director of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP). Lara Kisielewska is the President of the Graphic Artists Guild (GAG). Akili-Casundria Ramsess is the Executive Director of the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA). Juliette Wolf-Robin is the National Executive Director of the American Photographic Artists (APA). And David Trust is the CEO of the Professional Photographers of America (PPA).

by Sidra Safri
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Many members have asked, "What good will come from making the Register of Copyright a presidential appointee and how would this make the process less political?" These are great questions with a slightly complex answer. 

Currently, the Copyright Office is housed in the Library of Congress with the Librarian of Congress as the head decision maker. The Librarian is appointed by the President for a 10-year term. The Library and the Librarian's role is to capture a screen shot of society and have it readily available to everyone with no regard to credit or compensation. 

On the other hand, the Copyright Office and the Register's role is to protect copyright, provide and review registration, and advise Congress on copyright law and policy. With this in mind, one can see that the Library of Congress and the Copyright Office are at odds with what they do. Making the Register of Copyright a presidential appointee is the first step in giving the Copyright Office some autonomy to effectively do what they were created for. 

Further, an added protection to ensure this does not become a highly politicized appointment, is that whoever is appointed is done so with the advice and consent of Congress. Since Congress would be relying on the Register so heavily it would ensure someone with ample knowledge and experience would be appointed. 

For these reasons, PPA asks you to support H.R 1695 and take the first step in modernizing the Copyright Office. Send a letter to your representative or call them NOW

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PPA's partners at the Copyright Alliance have put together a great blog post, giving a counterpoint to misconceptions about HR 1695. Read and share now! 

The myths are:  

  • MYTH #1: It's "mystifying" why congress would prefer a Presidentially appointed Register of Copyrights to one appointed by the Librarian of Congress.
  • MYTH #2: A Presidentially appointed Register will become "more concerned with policy than modernization".
  • MYTH #3: This bill is an attempt to take power away from Dr. Hayden and give it to President Trump. 
  • MYTH #4: Making the Register a Presidential appointee will politicize the position.
  • MYTH #5: There isn't time to wait for a presidential appointee. A "new and qualified" Register must be appointed right away.
  • MYTH #6: A 10-year term would make the Register "less accountable to Congress and the public."
After you dig deeper into these myths and the reasons they're just that, be sure to have everyone you know lend their voice in support of HR 1695! Use PPA's pre-written messages and call or write your representative.  

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There's a great new copyright blog out there, Copyright Creativity at Work, and guess what...it's from the U.S. Copyright Office! The U.S. Copyright Office is really stepping up their game in an effort to share their activities with the public. This is fantastic news for PPA and supporters of copyright law reform, as it makes the Copyright Office more open and transparent while we embark on the modernization process. 

The blog is great and very well maintained so far, with article updates when court cases pertaining to copyright take place. The blog intends to explore "a wide variety of copyright-related topics, including special project updates, interesting copyright court cases and case law, current copyright issues, current events, historical facts, copyright myths, trivia, communications about current and developing Office services, fun facts, and responses to copyright interest suggested by our customers."

Along with the blog, the Copyright Office launched its updated website. The site's redesign is also a great step in the right direction, making for a more organized, more responsive, and easier-to-navigate user experience.

Read all about the changes and how to use the new site here. 

Don't forget, while you're diving deep into the world of copyright law, you still need to sign up to support PPA's legislative efforts at PPA.com/Grassroots. 

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by Sidra Safri


3/29/17
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12:20 p.m.

H.B 1695 has passed the House Judiciary Committee today! It pass with 27 yeas and 1 nay. Remember, this bill is proposing to make the Register of Copyrights a presidential appointee. 

PPA fully supports this since we were shocked by the abrupt termination of Maria Pallante. This is a great first step towards insuring that the Copyright Office is on the right path to modernization and continues to include small creators.

The bill will be presented to the House for a full vote soon.


11:23 a.m.

We are currently sitting in a house judiciary hearing (pictured, with portraits of Chairman Bob Goodlatte and Ranking member John Conyers) about making the Register of Copyrights a presidential appointee. This part of the process is called a markup. During this "markup" all Representatives (those who support, are against, sponsored or any other stance) can submit their input and recommend changes. This ensures that the bill is properly debated and can pass when it is presented to the full house.

Stayed tuned for more updates and a preview of Chairman Goodlatte (R-VA)'s comments about the bill!


9:45 a.m.

This is day two for PPA on Capitol Hill and things are going great! 

Yesterday evening, we met with Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID). This was our first time meeting with him and it was important to get his office up to speed about small claims and why it's so important to photographers. Rep Labrador's office showed a lot of interest in the bill since they are strong supporters of small businesses. They have asked us to keep them updated about the bill and we hope they will sign on when time comes.

After talking about small claims, we briefly talked about the Register of Copyright position becoming a presidential appointee. We found out that Representative Labrador is a co-sponsor of that bill. Upon hearing this, we wanted to take the time to thank him and his efforts to protect the copyright office.

After meeting with Representative Labrador, we ended the day meeting with Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL)'s office. This was another first time meeting, but an important one, since she was recently asked to join the Judiciary Committee by Speaker Paul Ryan. This meeting went well, as we explained the intricacies of the small claims bill. Once again, we hope when times comes she will support small claims!

For the rest of today...we are doing things a little differently. We had a full day of meetings lined up. However, as we all know, things can change at the drop of a hat on Capitol Hill. Instead we are attending the bill markup of turning the Register of Copyrights into a presidential appointee. This will allow us to hear first-hand what changes are being made to the bill and also allows us to meet with Representatives and staffers.

Stay tuned for more updates!

And check out this morning's Facebook Live update (the screen alignment is fixed after the first 30 seconds or so!) with CEO David Trust and Government Affairs Coordinator Sidra Safri. 


3/28/17 
5:15 p.m.
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It's been another fantastic day on Capitol Hill for PPA and Small Claims!

Things started off at lunch with Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). Representative Blackburn gave great insight into how important copyright and IP issues are to many members of congress and how she fully understands where PPA is coming from. Being from Nashville, she knows the importance of protecting creative artists and will certainly look into Small Claims when the time comes.

During this lunch Rep. Blackburn also shared how upset she was when Maria Pallante was dismissed from the copyright office and is interested-- like much of congress-- to see how the bill suggests to turn the position into a presidential appointment. 

After lunch with Blackburn we met with Representative Mike Bishop (R-MI). This meeting was the first time PPA has met with this office. During this meeting it was clear that Representative Bishop's office understands that copyright law currently is flawed and knows that something needs to be done. His office is interested in seeing the small claims bill and we hope that his office will support small claims and go on to become a co-sponsor.

Once we left Representative Bishop's office we went to go visit Representative Lieu (D-CA)'s office. Representative Lieu has worked closely with Representative Chu on various items through the Judiciary committee and we hope he will sign on as well. During this time we also had the opportunity to talk about modernizing the copyright office as well as the introduction of the recent bill to make the registrar a presidential appointment.

We have two more meetings today and we hope that they go as well as all of our earlier ones did. Stay tuned! 


9:00 a.m.

Good morning everyone!

PPA is off to Washington D.C. again to continue laying the groundwork for small claims. We have a jam packed day ahead.

The main purpose of this trip is to continue bringing attention to the Freedom for American Small Creators Act (the small claims bill) and highlight why this is so important to creative artists, especially photographers. Since the bill has not been reintroduced yet (but it will be soon!), PPA hopes many of the representatives we talk to will be willing to co-sponsor the bill when time comes.

Stay tuned for more updates after our meetings with your representatives.

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The times, they are a changing... and it could have a HUGE impact on how professional photographers protect their images and their livelihood. 

Under the current copyright legislation, infringement claims must be filed in person and in federal court. Two unfortunate things about this: this is a labor-intensive process, and federal cases are very expensive. This is what keeps many pros from pursuing rightful justice. But things are about to change!

Thousands of creative professionals banded together in support of the "Fairness for American Small Creators Act," a "small claims bill" that would make it possible for small business image creators (including professional photographers) to take advantage of the U.S. copyright system for the first time since its inception!

If approved, the Act would allow for photographers and visual artists whose work has been infringed to file for a hearing with a small claims process online without having to hire an attorney.  Additionally, copyright claims could be filed without prior registration with the Copyright Office. The maximum recovery amount would be set at a manageable $30,000, ensuring that small creators have a place to remedy their copyright infringements, while also preventing the pipeline of infringement claims from becoming clogged (like it is now). Last but not least, those who still wish to pursue their claim in federal court may still do so. It's a win-win for copyright infringement victims and cases of all sizes.

The small claims issue is currently on the list of four necessary reforms Professional Photographers of America (PPA) has been advocating for the Copyright Office. Now more than ever is the time for creative artists to make their voices heard on Capitol Hill. Getting involved is easy. PPA has partnered with other leading visual arts organizations and created a Grassroots Action Team dedicated to fixing this broken copyright law. Visit their website PPA.com/Grassroots and add your name to a growing roster of individuals and businesses seeking more effective copyright legislation. Once signed-up and when the bill is reintroduced, you will receive alerts and information on how or when to contact your representative. 

For so many working photographers, making great images is a passion... and now protecting that work can be a right. Make your voice heard in supporting the "Fairness for American Small Creators Act" and the protections it brings to so many businesses and livelihoods.


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by Sidra Safri 
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Do you ever wonder if your client fully understands their contract--especially the portions dealing with copyright or the usage rights? Some clients are so focused on the end product they completely forget that they may have to ask permission to use their new images for something other than personal use.
 
PPA has a small fix for that. Included in your membership kit (and renewal kit) is a stack of copyright inserts. These inserts can be stapled to your contract or be included in all the materials you provide to your client. The copyright inserts explain copyright law in a nutshell, and urge the clients to ask you, the photographer, for any additional information. Sometimes a gentle reminder or simple education can go a long way. 

These copyright inserts can be downloaded and printed anytime you need them here. 

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By Sidra Safri 
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Photographers BEWARE! Google's new imaging software, RAISR, is every photographer's worst nightmare. RAISR stands for "Rapid and Accurate Image Super Resolution". This software, like many others on the market, is able to take a low-quality image and turn it into a larger, and slightly better, image.

RAISR poses a bigger threat because this software is able to improve the image to make it look almost identical to the original! Even more worrisome is that this software is able to do this 10 to 100 times faster than most, and also works on mobile devices. With access to higher quality images on all devices, the door is now open for even more infringement opportunities without any remedy for photographers, perpetuating the unfair copyright-infringement cycle! As software continues to advance, it has become more important than ever to have a copyright-infringement remedy available for photographers and creative artists. 

With the passage of Small Claims legislation in the (relatively near) future, photographers will have the ability to prevent infringers from stealing their work. In order to make this a reality we need your support! Sign your name to the Grassroots Action Team at ppa.com/grassroots. We're trying to get 30,000+ names to show Congress how important this issue is for our members and their communities. For more information about small claims please visit ppa.com/advocacy or contact the Government Affairs Manager at ssafri@ppa.com.  

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By now you know PPA is always fighting for your rights on Capitol Hill, lobbying and advocating for improvements to copyright law (including a small claims option). 

You can be proud of the "big-picture" ways that your association is working to improve your business's sustainability and profits via copyright reform, but there's a new way that you can personally pitch in!

A few months ago, PPA started working on new ways to get PPA members and non-members alike to share their copyright infringement stories. After a few tweaks, it's time to roll out this new "Share Your Story" tool

Submissions can be made by both members and non-members. Share the page on your social networks. We want YOUR story and the stories of all you know who have been affected by copyright infringement. 70% of professional photographers have dealt with copyright infringement, so we know you have stories. Now, we have an opportunity to share those stories with congress and help pass the Fairness for American Small Creators Act (FASCA). 

We need to get FASCA passed because it will allow you to protect your work and provide adequate and affordable recourse if your work is stolen, without the immense time and monetary demand normally required.

We only have one shot to change things and this is why we need to hear your stories. Please make a short video of an experience you've had with copyright infringement and upload it to the link. With your stories, we will be able to advocate for a better Small Claims process on Capitol Hill that will protect the work of photographers and creative artists.


By James Yates
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It's super cold outside and, let's face it, you don't want to go anywhere this weekend. Curl up under a blanket, make something hot to drink, and enjoy these top photography blog posts from around the web. 

ACCESS: Read this PPA Today post on the amazing stuff that comes with this year's Imaging USA Expo-Only Pass (Drone Zone, Print for Success Theatre, Mel Robbins keynote, IPC exhibit, 600+ booth trade show) and get a promocode to enter to get your pass for FREE!

ADAPT: Windy conditions may seem like a ruined day for your photo shoot, but FStoppers has an article on how to use it to your advantage. More than just overcoming, there's a way to use wind to your advantage to create natural portraits. 

TIPS: Learn 10 tips for better wedding photography lighting via a video from Popular Photography. The first step is figuring out the space...watch the video to learn the rest. 

HOW-TO: Tis the season for these tips! Popular Photography again with 10 tips for holiday family portraits. They're simple, easy to remember, and will make the most out of your family get-togethers. 

BEWARE: Not to scare you, but memory cards can be damaged pretty easily. Here are a bunch of do's and don'ts for memory cards from PetaPixel. They'll clear up some common misconceptions and offer strategies to keep your images safe. 

INSPIRING: Business Insider has a slideshow of inspirational nature photography. Check out the winners from the 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year contest. These are jaw-dropping images you won't soon forget. 
 
DIVERSIFY: Here's a great piece on diversity issues in the modelling world. A Liberian model collaborated with an L.A.-based photographer to recreate fashion campaigns featuring white models. The results spark questions about black girl invisibility and the need to diversify.  

TRIBUTE: New York fashion and portrait photographer Rodney Smith recently passed away. PetaPixel has a nice piece on his legacy and a look at his iconic photos. 

DREAMING OF DRONES:  Professional Photographer magazine reviewed 8 popular drones so you can put your favorite on your Christmas wish list. Hurry up and read this article or Santa may just pass you by. 
 
PRINT: The Photo Fundamentalist has a great essay up about print permanence and the need to create prints. Go into the meaning of life, why man creates art, and more deep issues that dovetail perfectly with PPA's PRINT. Movement

There you have 'em, our weekly blog post roundup! What photography blogs or podcasts do YOU follow? Post your favorites on theLoop or email them to us at OnlineContentCommittee@PPA.com.

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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.

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.





8:00 am

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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