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PPA Today: Copyright Advocacy Archives

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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
2014-04-08 Mary Fisk-Taylor.JPG
2014-04-08 Michael Timmons.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 copyrightdefense@ppa.com. 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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