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PPA Today: Copyright Advocacy: March 2016 Archives

Copyright Advocacy: March 2016 Archives

by Lindsey Forson

PPA's rounded out its time in Washington, D.C. with a full day of meetings yesterday:imageloc.JPG
•    First, we met with Tiffany Angulo in the office of Congressman Jim Jordan.
•    Then the team headed over to the Library of Congress for a meeting with Karyn Temple Claggett, the Director of Policy for the U.S. Copyright Office, and several of her colleagues.
•    Next we headed to the Copyright Alliance for a meeting with other stakeholders throughout the copyright-reliant industries.

The meeting with Congressman Jordan's Office was somewhat of an introduction. PPA had not recently met with this Office, therefore we gave an overview of PPA's role in the photographic community and our work on copyright defense, and presented to them copyright small claims as our top issue. Congressman Jordan, who serves on the Judiciary Committee, is also known as a very influential member among the current House majority. With this in mind, we requested his strong support of copyright small claims legislation once it's introduced.

PPA joined forces with seven other visual arts associations at the U.S. Copyright Office tocopyrightoffice.jpg present copyright small claims as a group and as the number one priority issue for the visual arts industries. As the Office is already very supportive of our Small Claims issue, we discussed specific details of how the U.S. Copyright Office can most effectively administer the process. This discussion also centered on issues affecting visual artists with the copyright registration process. The planning of the overhaul of their I.T. systems is already underway, and with that the timing may be right to address some registration issues. Both the representatives from the U.S. Copyright Office and the visual artist representatives agree that the requirement to sort works of the visual arts according to publication status is problematic. These changes will need to be addressed through legislation, but we may see more success if we advocate for these issues in tandem with the U.S. Copyright Office.

PPA's last meeting yesterday was with the Copyright Alliance, where copyright issues affecting all of the industries were broadly discussed. The conversation included copyright office modernization, small claims, current court cases affecting copyright law, and coordinated advocacy efforts on these three issues.

If you missed the rundown on the earlier part of our trip, check out the previous copyright visits recap posts from earlier this week. PPA will be back on the Hill in April to continue this important work and in the meantime, we'll continue to be in touch with key offices in D.C., as to keep our copyright small claims proposal top of mind. PPA's number one goal is to see small claims legislation, and as the support for our cause extends across the aisle, we are lobbying for its introduction in committee to happen this year with bipartisan sponsorship. Stay tuned to for more information.

Lindsey Forson is PPA's Manager of Government Affairs. She works alongside our CEO to fight for the rights of professional photographers on Capitol Hill and to keep PPA members informed on the issues that affect your businesses. Lindsey helps PPA advocate for stronger copyright protection, improved drone regulations, and other small-business issues affecting the industry. When not on Capitol Hill or at PPA headquarters, you can typically find Lindsey on a soccer field, at an Atlanta restaurant or market, or cheering on the Auburn Tigers!


by Lindsey Forson
PPA's Government Affairs team is back in D.C. this week and this first day on the Hill was very exciting. We found out some great information and made significant progress on small claims.

First up was a meeting with Congresswoman Chu's Chief of Staff, Linda Shim. Congresswoman Chu (CA) has certainly emerged as one of our strongest advocates on the Hill. Her office is pushing for copyright small claims legislation harder than anyone else we have met with. They are beginning to seek out other offices on the Judiciary Committees on both sides of the aisle to partner with in the goal of advancing a small claims bill. PPA is helping with this process and we are very grateful to the Congresswoman and her staff for their support of small-business creators. We look forward to continuing our close work with this office on this shared goal.

Next we met with Amy Bos of the Office of Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI). Congressman Sensenbrenner, of the House Judiciary Committee, is a great copyright supporter and has expressed significant interest in copyright small claims in previous meetings. We met with Amy to discuss the small claims white paper that PPA recently released in conjunction with other associations. The Congressman's reaction to our small claims proposal was very positive and he is also interested in advocating for the advancement of the copyright legislation within the House Judiciary Committee. We are looking forward to meeting with the Congressman again during our next trip to discuss how we can work together more on this in the coming months.

Lastly, we had a very informative discussion with five members of the FAA's UAS integration team.  We are pleased to report that the new rule for business-related drone use will most likely be released by June. They confirmed that they are prepared for a late spring/early summer release and that the rule will take effect 30 days after it's released.  These regulations will apply to drones weighing under 55 lbs. PPA expects that these new regulations will be similar to the proposal released by the FAA last year. This would allow for the use of drones by professional photographers if three requirements are met:

1.    The user has obtained a small UAS airman certificate which will be earned by passing a computerized knowledge test.
2.    The user has registered all drones.  The FAA's online drone registration system should be expanded to include registration of drones that will be used for business-related purposes by the end of this month.
3.    The user follows all of the rules - There will be restrictions on maximum height, maximum speed, airspace etc. Based on the proposal, we expect the restrictions to be very reasonable.   

We are seeing exciting progress in D.C. and are happy to be a part of bettering professional photographers' copyrights and due process!

There you have it, PPA's further adventures in D.C.! And the cherry blossoms aren't too bad to look at either. Stay tuned to this blog and for more Capitol Hill-related updates as PPA continues to lobby for your Creator's Rights!

Lindsey Forson is PPA's Manager of Government Affairs. She works alongside our CEO to fight for the rights of professional photographers on Capitol Hill and to keep PPA members informed on the issues that affect your businesses. Lindsey helps PPA advocate for stronger copyright protection, improved drone regulations, and other small-business issues affecting the industry. When not on Capitol Hill or at PPA headquarters, you can typically find Lindsey on a soccer field, at an Atlanta restaurant or market, or cheering on the Auburn Tigers!

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by Lindsey Forson
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You should register the copyright for all of your images! You've heard that time and time again, haven't you? All photographers have the same thoughts enter our minds when we hear this - "I don't have time for that!" "It's too confusing!" "The costs really add up!" "What's the point? I could never afford a federal lawsuit."

It is no secret that required federal lawsuits currently make copyright enforcement out of reach for most professional photographers. This is why PPA's first legislative priority before Congress is the creation of a small claims option for copyright cases. As it becomes more and more likely that we may actually achieve our small claims goal, another important legislative issue arises: With small claims, your motivation to register your work should infinitely increase, which means professional photographers will be in need of a simplified process, as the current system is just not scalable.

As photographers, we produce the highest volume of copyrighted works of all creators. This makes the copyright registration process more complicated for us than anyone else. PPA is advocating for two changes which would massively simplify the process:

(1)    the elimination of the requirement to sort images by 'publication' status and date
(2)    a self-deposit option

What happens is that the Copyright Act's definition of 'publication' was created with literary works in mind and does not always fit within the context of the photographic industry. This issue confuses the entire process for photographers and, since published and unpublished photos must be on separate applications (yep!), photographers are often required to pay two application fees to register one job. This is not practical, not fair, and very time consuming.

Professional photographers are constantly perplexed in trying to figure out (1) if a particular work is indeed 'published' and (2) what that actual 'publication' date was. Add to that the fact that you have to do this for every single image you create and you understand how non-realistic the process is! PPA proposes that this publication requirement be eliminated at least for registration of visual works. Of course, we believe creators should be able to specify the publication date of their work, if applicable, but it certainly should not be a requirement to register your work.

Here's the even bigger problem - the requirement to deposit each and every image you register. The truth is that the current copyright system only works because it excludes the vast majority of creators. Yes, this makes no sense and is exactly what we meant to say - the copyright registration system as it currently exists can only function because visual artists and other high-volume creators do not often participate.

Seven visual arts associations release proposal to Congress for copyright small claims legislation.

March 1, 2016 - While there has been a great deal of discussion recently about the possibility of Congress creating a small claims process for visual arts, several visual artist groups, representing hundreds of thousands of creators, have joined forces to propose key components of potentially forthcoming small claims legislation. Collectively, the groups represent photographers, photojournalists, videographers, illustrators, graphic designers, artists, and other visual artists as well as their licensing representatives.

The white paper, which can be viewed here, advocates for the creation of a small claims tribunal within the U.S. Copyright Office. The document is a collaboration between American Photographic Artists (APA), American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), Digital Media Licensing Association (DMLA), Graphic Artists Guild (GAG), National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) and Professional Photographers of America (PPA).

"The current review of copyright law in the House Judiciary Committee creates an opportunity to repair a decades-long inequity of our nation's copyright system," said David Trust, CEO of Professional Photographer of America. "A small claims process would be the game-changer that we have been working towards for years on the Hill."

These organizations have identified the creation of a small claims option to be their most urgent legislative priority before Congress. They assert that the cost and burden of maintaining a lawsuit in the only existing venue for hearing copyright infringement claims--federal district courts--is prohibitive and all too often leaves visual artists no way to vindicate their rights. They see a small claims court within the Copyright Office as providing a fair, cost-effective and streamlined venue in which they can seek relief for relatively modest copyright infringement claims.

Trust continued, "The harsh reality is that the vast majority of creators in America are currently excluded from copyright protection. This would finally level the playing field for small creators.  Now we get to begin the difficult task of selling this idea to Congress."

This negotiated document, which lays out the basic framework for small claims legislation, is in large part consistent with the legislative recommendations set out in the "Copyright Small Claims" report released in late 2013 by the U.S. Copyright Office. In some instances, the white paper offers alternative suggestions to those put forth by the Copyright Office.

The visual artists' organizations listed above have now distributed this legislative proposal for a copyright small claims tribunal to members of Congress, the United States Copyright Office, the members of the undersigned organizations, and other important copyright stakeholders.

For more information, please contact Professional Photographers of America at 800-786-6277 or

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Copyright Advocacy category from March 2016.

Copyright Advocacy: February 2016 is the previous archive.

Copyright Advocacy: April 2016 is the next archive.

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