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PPA Today: Copyright Advocacy Archives

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

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

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

Today's agenda includes meetings with:

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

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

  • The U.S. Copyright Office

To discuss the Copyright review process.


PPA Makes a Fall Visit to Washington

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.)


2014-04-08 Barbara Bovat.JPG2014-04-08 Greg Daniel.JPG
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PPA will continue to provide updates on the ongoing copyright movement. Things are getting really exciting!

copyrightresoucesbutton.jpgTake That, Infringement!
Have you ever been hosed in a copyright dispute? If so, we'd bet that even just the thought of copyright infringement is enough to make your blood boil. Ours too. That little circled letter © sure does come in handy, though. So do PPA's copyright resources and contracts.

Let's take a closer look at our copyright resources. There are good reasons why they are one of the most coveted PPA benefits.

Sample Letters
Look, we know that when emotions run high it can be difficult to get your point across in a professional manner. It happens to all of us! But before you press "send" on that angry response email because your client's request is unacceptable, take a step back and even call or email us if needed. Here, take a look at how we can help.

If you find yourself having to defend your copyrights, PPA has created a handful of letters that will help you stand your ground with poise and authority. Check them out in theLoop's Copyright Q&A Community library. You'll find everything from a standard "cease and desist" letter to samples that help with specific types of infringements, like a client who has violated their licensing agreement.

These letters certainly aren't the only way PPA has your back. Know that you're never alone in addressing an infringement. If you need us, just call 800-786-6277 or email No matter the situation, PPA's Copyright & Government Affairs Department is here to provide assistance, general advice or a quick pep talk before you react.

Sample Contracts
When it comes to contracts, it doesn't matter if you're dealing with a friend, family member or a strict business relationship, it's critical to take the time to document the assignment details. These details include your responsibilities as the photographer and their responsibilities as the client. Putting these items on paper will help keep everyone honest, and provide you with an additional layer of protection should you, or your client, need to call an aspect of the project into question.

But a contract should include more than just contact, session, payment, and order information. It's your opportunity to explain your studio's policies, like copyright ownership, and what it means to work with you as a photographer. It's also your client's opportunity to let you know what they expect from you/the session and acknowledge their understanding of the foundation you've laid down.

Your client is coming to you for your professional expertise, so don't be afraid to ask them to sign on the dotted line. No need to be shy! It's just as much for their protection as it is for yours (it's never a bad idea to make sure they understand that too). If you need help developing your contract "tool kit" PPA has a hefty library of samples available for you to download. We also have two free Webinars that will guide you on how to craft and enforce your agreements.

Just think of a contract as the ultimate "To Do" list.

Copyright Kit
It's hard to stay up-to-date on copyright laws and your rights as a photographer and it's probably not the thing you can't wait to dive in to when you have a little bit of downtime. But lucky for you, PPA's Copyright & Government Affairs Department has come up with a handy Copyright Kit to answer all sorts of questions, and some you might not even know you had. The kit covers steps you can take to protect your copyrights, best practices of marking your images, and a quick reference guide to the most common copyright questions.

We're going to stress this one a bit...PLEASE make sure you utilize these copyright resources. They are available at no charge to you and exist only to protect you and your work; ignoring them would be doing your business a disservice. Let us help you! It's what we're here for.

It's pretty much evolve or die in the photography business. You've got to have the latest and greatest gear, keep up with current trends and establish a fluid online presence. So when you're out there working hard to stay current, shouldn't the laws that serve to protect you be up to date as well?

People in Maria Pallante's world sometimes call The Copyright Act of 1976 "the new law," but that's hardly how she sees it. And as the U.S. Register of Copyrights, she's requesting the makeover on Capitol Hill.

The copyright laws currently in place, which determine what can be copyrighted and by whom, how fair use works, who can be sued for infringement and for how much, are out of date. Basically, "the new law" isn't cutting it anymore. Nor is the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, passed 15 years ago, in 1998. The internet moves a little too fast for that act to be relevant.

So Ms. Pallante's getting to work for you! She has twice called for "the next Great Copyright Act" to be drafted and passed by Congress, and now Ms. Pallante has someone in her corner (other than PPA and its members, of course). Representative Robert Goodlatte, Dem. 6th District of Virginia, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, recently announced his committee would conduct a "comprehensive review" of the existing copyright statute.

We don't know what these new laws might look like, but with these two going to bat for you, there's reason to get excited. Plus, a few hints were made as to what the Copyright Office and Judiciary Committee are looking for in their review:

  • To make the laws easy to understand and balance the needs of creators and content users so they can communicate effectively.
  • To bring the law into the 21st Century! While the laws have been "tweaked" on occasion, the last major update to the existing statute was completed in the mid-1970s. Yikes!
  • To provide copyright owners with effective and accessible enforcement tools. Sort of like PPA's copyright resources. We're such trend-setters!
  • To keep it simple! The Copyright Office needs to be able to apply the laws to real scenarios, like registration requirements and processes, without needing to seek Congress's approval.

We certainly don't expect the new law to be crafted overnight, but at the same time, we sure hope it doesn't take decades like the act of 1976, so we're staying staying tuned-in to this one! After the Judiciary Committee's review, the process likely will move on to a series of hearings, roundtables, requests for "studies", and public comment periods. Through it all PPA will make sure photographers have a seat at the table when it comes to shaping the future statute.

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