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PPA Today: Copyright Advocacy Archives

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by Sidra Safri 

For a long time now you have been hearing PPA push for Copyright Modernization and Small Claims copyright protections for photographers. The good news is that a lot of progress has been made in both areas, but still have a ways to go to ensure their success as legislation. A few weeks ago in our blog you saw a flyer that explained why Small Claims makes sense. 

This week we wanted to take the opportunity and show you why it is necessary to push for Modernization of the Copyright Office.  When we say modernization, PPA means the ability to upgrade the registration system, make the registration process smoother, and also allow for a stronger infrastructure that can support a large increase in copyright registration. Take a look below for some interesting information about the current registration system. Be sure to share this graphic with your friends and stay tuned to PPA.com/Advocacy so everyone can support copyright modernization! 

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by Sidra Safri
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1:00pm

PPA's first two meetings today have us off to a great start! 

We started the morning with Representative Doug Collins (R-GA). We were happy to hear that they are hoping for introduction of a small-claims bill very soon and they have been keeping in close touch with key players.

Representative Collins went on say that even though there is so much going on right now, he is devoted to moving small claims forward and ensuring small creators are protected. He also acknowledged that small claims and copyright modernization go hand-in-hand and we must continue to push both. We ended the meeting taking the opportunity to thank his office for everything he has done.

After Rep. Collins we went to meet with representative Hakeem Jefferies' office (D-NY). Jefferies' office has been in close contact with various members of the visual-arts community and is making sure the small-claims bill is what creators want. Once they are able to introduce a bill, Jefferies and Rep. Marino want to work closely with Joe Keeley (House Judiciary Committee's chief counsel of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property) and make sure small claims continues to be something both parties can agree upon. 

Another key aspect discussed in this meeting was making sure that however the small-claims process goes forward, in no way should it become cumbersome to the people it's meant to help. We ended this meeting thank Jefferies' office for bringing small claims to the forefront and helping making sure creators' rights are on everyone's minds. 

Right now we are heading to lunch and will take the opportunity it to regroup for our next meetings. After lunch we will be meeting with Joe Keeley from Chairman Goodlatte's office and representative Jim Jordan. 

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9:30am
PPA is back in D.C. for day two of our trip, meeting with representatives to advocate for copyright modernization and small-claims protection for photographers. Yesterday ended with our meeting with Representative Lieu (D-CA). We visited Representative Lieu's office earlier this year and he showed great interest in small claims since many of his constituents are affected by copyright Infringement. We wanted to follow up with him and thank him for his support and push for small claims. Since Representative Lieu works closely with Representative Chu's office, he fully understands why it's important for small claims and modernization to go hand in hand. This meeting was a great way to end the day, especially since we know we have such fantastic support! 

Today we are changing things up and are going to be joined by other visual-artists organizations that are also pushing for small claims! These organizations include GAG, ASMP, APA, NANPA, and NPPA. With our partner organizations we will be meeting with Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Representative Doug Collins (R-GA), Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), and Representative Bill Johnson (R-OH). All four offices have heavily engaged in work on small claims and we wanted to take the time to propose additional provisions and see what we can do to make a small-claims bill as successful as possible while protecting creative artists. 

Stay tuned for more updates!

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by Sidra Safri
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4:00pm
We started the morning by meeting with the office of Representative Labrador (R-ID) and it was a great way to get started! We were happy to hear this his office has been following the news on small claims and really thinks it will be a great step for small business and individual property rights. During this time, we also took the opportunity to explain why small claims and copyright modernization have to happen together and how interdependent they are. Rep. Labrador recognizes this importance and hopes we can continue to push the two issues together.

After meeting with Representative Labrador we went to see Representative Marino's office (R-PA). As a reminder, Representative Marino co-sponsored the other small-claims bill last year. We wanted to meet with his office to take the opportunity to thank him for how often he has worked with Representative Chu, encouraging bi-partisan support. We again took this opportunity to explain why small claims and copyright modernization need to happen together and Rep. Marino's office fully supported this. Representative Marino's office agreed that small-claims protection is important to ensuring that America continues to be the leader for creative artists for decades to come.

Our first two meetings went really well. We are heading to Representative Lieu's office (D-CA). Stay tuned for more updates to come!


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9:00am

PPA is back in D.C once again and we have three exciting meetings planned for today! 

We'll start the day off visiting the office of Representative Raul Labrador (R-ID). This is will be our second time meeting with Rep. Labrador this year. We thought it was important to visit his office again since he has a strong interest in copyright and small business... the ultimate combination! We will take this time to update his office on where small claims stands, and continue to talk to him about how important small claims is.

After meeting with Representative Labrador we are heading to Representative Tom Marino's office (R-PA). Representative Marino has an extensive history with copyright and IP issues, and has done a fantastic job in the past of working with members of both parties. PPA knows he has an interest in small claims, since Representative Marino co-sponsored the other small claims bill. Having everyone on the same page will help ensure the success of small claims.

Our last meeting for the day is with Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA). Representative Lieu has a strong interest in copyright issues and is well versed in the area since his constituents are constantly affected by copyright infringement in California. This is the second time we will be meeting with Representative Lieu's office. We believe it's important to keep him updated on small claims, and wanted to take the time to thank him for his support. 

We have some great meetings lined up today, and are excited to be advocating for your (copy)rights!!

Stay tuned for more throughout the day.


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by James Yates
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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 registration and the modernization of the copyright office (including a small claims option). 

We're pretty proud of the "big-picture" ways that we're working to improve your business's sustainability and profits, but there's a smaller way that PPA has helped, behind the scenes, for years: assessing whether or not members' works have been infringed.

If you feel your work has been infringed upon, but you don't know what to do about it, PPA can help with our Copyright Infringement Assistance tool. It's designed to point you in the right direction, with steps you can take to stop the infringement! It's quick and painless...because having your art stolen is painful enough!

With PPA's Copyright Infringement Assistance tool!, if you think you've been infringed upon, you only have to answer 2-3 questions and the tool will generate specific help for you, including DCMA takedown notices, certified letters to the infringing parties or letting you know when it's time to contact an attorney.

Stop by PPA.com/Copyright and check out all the copyright assistance available to you as a member!



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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 Sidra Safri
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In the world of Intellectual Property (IP) there are three main categories:

1. Patents
2. Trademarks
3. Copyright

These three categories are distinct in their own ways and work to protect their creator, inventor, or the company that made them or who they represent. All three (patents, trademarks, and copyrights) can be used together, but people largely tend to confuse the differences between Copyright and Trademark. 

A trademark can be wording, phrasing, slogan symbols, graphics or designs that help identify a brand or set them apart from others. A logo is a great example of a trademark. Trademarks do not expire after a set number of years, therefore giving them the ability to last forever as long as they are being used. You are not required to register a trademark with the United State Patent Office, but are encouraged to do so for added protection and benefit.

A copyright protects original creations that include literary works, performing arts, photographs, etc. and can be registered with the Copyright Office in the Library of Congress. Copyright protection is determined based on different factors such as when the content was created, was it created using a pseudonym or anonymously, or it was a work-for-hire. These protections can last from 50 years after the creator's death to 120 years after publication. 

Similar to a trademark, a copyright does not need to be registered but is encouraged for added protection and higher statutory damages. 

For more information and a more detailed breakdown of these three main categories of IP, visit the USPTO website. 


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by Sidra Safri
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As photographers we all understand the importance of the Copyright Office and everything it is meant to do for the world of copyright. However, besides being the protector of copyrights, the Office's other main purpose is to continuously provide Congress with the proper knowledge necessary to make decisions in the area of Intellectual Property. 

However, to fully understand the Copyright Office and how copyright law has evolved, it is necessary to go back to the early years of America. In 1787, during discussions for the Constitutional Convention, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 was added. It stated "the Congress shall have power...to promote the process of science and useful arts, by securing for limited time to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." This law would go on to shape Copyright Law for many years to come.

Below is a short timeline of how both the Copyright Office and Copyright Law evolved. 

  • 1790: The first Copyright Act is passed and provides American creators with the ability to control when to print, reprint, or publish their work for up to 14 years, with the ability to renew for another 14 years. This was done to encourage creators to continue to add to society while giving them an incentive to do so. 
  • 1831: This was the first review of the Copyright Act. This revision allowed the protection of copyright to be extended to 28 years with the possibility to renew for another 14 years. This change was made to ensure American creators had the same, if not similar, protections as their European counterparts. 
  • 1870: This was the first revision of the Copyright Act. When the Copyright Office was first created it was up to each individual District Court to file copyright claims. However, with this revision, the office was moved from the District Courts into the Copyright Office, where it would remain. 
  • 1909: After another major review of the Copyright Act, the items that could be protected by copyright were increased to include more categories. This review also extended the renewal from 14 years to 28 years. During this time, many congressional members were trying to find a balance between allowing the creator to enjoy the benefits of their creation and also allowing the public to enjoy these creations. 
  • 1976:  After 67 years of no revisions to the Copyright Act, it was necessary to incorporate technological advancements, as well as to prepare to join the Berne Convention which was joined by our European counterparts in 1886. Also during this revision, copyright protection was extended to the life of the author plus 50 or 75 years if the work was done for hire and/or for unpublished works. 
  • 1992: An amendment was made to make copyright renewal automatic, and therefore really limited what items were joining the public domain. 
  • 1998: Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act extended protection from 50 years after the life of the creator to 70 years after the life of the creator. 
  • 1998: Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) brought some aspects of copyright law to the 90s that would address challenges many creators were facing, while attempting to regulate digital items. 
  • 1999: Digital Theft Deterrence and Copyright Damages Improvement: With infringement becoming so easy, it was necessary to find some way to deter this from happening. Congress approved a large increase in the minimum statutory damages. The minimums went from $500 to $700 and the maximums went from $20,000 to between $30,000 and $150,000 depending on intent. 
  • 2016: Small Claims bill is introduced by Representative Judy of Chu of California. Proposing an alternative method to pursuing infringement claims valued at less than $30,000. During this same year, Chairman Goodlatte circulated a white paper highlighting the importance of Small Clams and making it a priority for the upcoming year. 
  • 2017: Representative Goodlatte introduced H.R 1695 to turn the Register of Copyright into a Senate-confirmed, Presidential Appointee, therefore ensuring a person with ample copyright knowledge is able to run the copyright office, and have a certain degree of autonomy from the Library of Congress. This bill currently has been introduced in the Senate at S. 1010 and will be heading to committee shortly. 

As you can see, the history of copyright in the U.S. is a long and winding road. PPA is making sure YOUR rights are protected by being a constant presence on Capitol Hill during these exciting months. Be sure to sign up and show your support (and share with all your friends!) at PPA.com/Grassroots. 

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Last week was a pretty crazy one on Capitol Hill (as they mostly are lately) and, lost in the shuffle, was the fact that the companion bill to H.R. 1695, the bill PPA's Grassroots Team lobbied to get through the House, has now been introduced in the Senate! 


"Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) today introduced the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act, which makes the Register of Copyrights a presidentially-appointed, Senate-confirmed position. This legislation is the Senate companion to H.R. 1695, which passed the House of Representatives last week by an overwhelming vote of 378 to 48.  It is the product of bicameral, bipartisan discussions led by these Senators and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers.

The Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act makes important changes to the selection process for the head of the U.S. Copyright Office, known as the Register of Copyrights.  Specifically, the legislation requires the Register to be nominated by the President of the United States and subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate.  It would limit the Register to a ten-year term that is renewable by another presidential nomination and Senate confirmation. The legislation would establish a panel consisting of Members of Congress and the Librarian of Congress to recommend at least three individuals to the President for the position. It would require that the Register be capable of identifying and supervising a Chief Information Officer or similar official responsible for managing information technology systems. Finally, the legislation clarifies that the mandatory deposit requirements for collection at the Library of Congress will remain the same.

Grassley, Feinstein, Leahy and Hatch look forward to working with the Senate Rules Committee on legislation to improve the selection process for the position of Register, and they remain committed to further efforts towards modernization of the Copyright Office.

Bill text is available HERE."

PPA will keep you updated every step along the way, as the Bill now goes to one of several Senate Committees vying for the chance to spearhead the Senate's changes to the House version of the bill.

Stay tuned and ready to activate by signing up for PPA's Grassroots Action Team at PPA.com/Grassroots!

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by Sidra Safri 
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On April 26th the House of Representative passed H.R. 1695 with overwhelming bipartisan support. This is huge victory for not only the modernization of the Copyright Office (located within the Library of Congress, pictured here) but for photographers across this country. This would not be possible without the many letters photographers and creative artist sent, and the support of many Representatives, including Representative Chu (D-Ca), Representative Collins (R-GA), Chairman Goodlatte (R-VA), and Ranking Member Conyers (D-MI). 

It is important to remember, H.R 1695 getting passed the House of Representatives is only half the fight. The bill now heads to the Senate side, where it is going to be a much harder fight. The Senate will examine the bill in various committees and go through the bill with a fine tooth comb. It is also possible for the Senate to come up with its own version of H.R 1695, which will then have to head back to the House for a vote again. 

However the Senate decides to precede it is absolutely imperative to continue to send letters, but this time to our Senators. We need to make sure that the voices of photographers and other creative artists are heard as you demand for the Copyright Office to step into the 21st century.

Stay tuned for "Go" time in the Senate with those letters and calls. And be sure to sign everyone you know up at PPA.com/Grassroots

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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." 





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