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PPA Today: Photography Legal Archives

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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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With the holidays right around the corner, many members are looking into getting a drone and adding drone photography to their repertoire.  In adding drone services, many members are focused on making sure they have the best drone, are properly certified, and have all the training necessary to ensure they can capture that fantastic photo. However, during all this excitement, many members will forget that it is necessary to update their contracts to make sure they are protected from any contracted-related issues. 

PPA knows it's important to make sure our members are ready for anything. That's why we have done some of the work for you! Now, under the forms and contracts section, exclusively for PPA members, is a Drone Clause that you can add to your existing contract. This contract has been reviewed and approved by an attorney, but keep in mind this is only meant to be used as a starting point. You still need to make sure you are in compliance with your local and state laws as they can vary drastically from location to location. 

Last, but not least, remember to fill out the Drone Survey request you received last week. These survey responses help guide PPA in knowing what our members want and need, thus allowing us to provide you with the best possible benefits! 

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PPA is pleased to introduce a new General Liability Endorsement exclusively made for 
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UAS/Drone operators! 

PPA's General Liability Insurance has coverage of $1 million per occurrence, or up to $2 million total. If you want to cover your drone under the same terms, it is recommended for you to purchase Drone endorsement insurance as well. Please note that this coverage is sold separately from the PhotoCare Equipment Insurance that is provided with your PPA membership. 

Drone Liability Coverage terms and conditions: 

  • You must be a member of PPA
  • Coverage must e purchased in conjunction with PPA's General Liability coverage
  • Limit options of $50,000 and $25,000 
  • Annual premiums of $150 and $100
  • Must be compliant with Part 107 Federal Aviation Regulations, and also state and local regulations
  • Operation of drone must be in connection with a paid assignment for your business
  • Defense coverage is included inside the limit of liability
  • Coverage extends to bodily injury and property damage of others

Ready to purchase coverage? Call our team at 888-202-1526 to secure your coverage today!

Not sure what the new FAA drones rules are? Visit PPA.com/Drones.
 
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With the new FAA regulations regarding drones going into effect August 29th, you need to have the most up-to-date information to fly and use a drone for business or work purposes. Bottom line: you MUST take the aeronautical knowledge test (the "Drone Test") and have your drone registered. Here are important links and guidelines that will be helpful while navigating through the process.

  • In order to sit for the "Drone test", and be able to apply for the remote pilot certification, the applicant must be at least 16 years old, be fluent in English, be in good physical and mental condition to operate a drone, and take the test at an approved FAA knowledge testing center. Step by step guidelines are posted on the FAA website under requirements and process for becoming a pilot.


  • All applicants need to take and pass the Drone Test in order to apply for their remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating. The cost of taking the test is $150 and, once certified, the certification will be valid for two years. Taking the test and getting certified allows photographers to use drones during photo sessions in accordance with FAA guidelines. To ensure that everyone has the knowledge necessary to pass the drone test, the FAA has posted various study guides and sample test questions for applicants to study. These materials can be found under the FAA's suggested study materials

  • Once an applicant has passed the drone test, applied for and received their remote pilot certification, they MUST register their drone. The drone must be registered if it is over .55 pounds, up to a maximum weight of 55 pounds. The 55 pound limit includes any equipment you attach to the drone, such as your camera. Registration cost is only $5 and will be valid for three years. All drones need to be registered at https://RegisterMyUAS.FAA.gov/.

  • Your drone must also undergo a pre-flight check to ensure it is in proper condition to be operated. This link has a .pdf of the FAA's pre-flight checklist. 

The FAA has addressed some Drone Regulations frequently asked questions here. Here is also an easy-to-read recap chart with all the necessary information regarding both pilot and drone requirements:

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You can find even more information in the FAA's Getting Started guide. We hope you're as excited and ready to fly your drone as we are! Share your (legal) drone photography with us on theLoop, Facebook or Twitter! Now, get out there, take some amazing photos and share them with the world!

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by Lindsey Forson

Drone lawyer, Peter Sachs reported on his website (dronelawjournal.com) this morning that he
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 has obtained a summary of the forthcoming small drone regulations from the FAA (for non-hobby and non-recreational use of UAS) which will reportedly be officially released from the FAA tomorrow. Read more from Forbes here. Stay tuned for updates from PPA regarding the new drone regulations beginning tomorrow. 

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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 ForsonThumbnail image for Capitol_Copyright_Blog.jpg

Memorial Day is just around the corner and, once again, PPA is on Capitol Hill advocating for stronger copyright protection for professional photographers! Our priority issue - the creation of a small claims process for copyright infringement claims - continues to gain support throughout Congress. Multiple offices within the U.S. House of Representatives are eager to take initiative on this issue, and some are even beginning to work toward the creation of legislation which would achieve this goal. We expect to see small claims legislation introduced before the end of year, and most likely, much sooner than that!

PPA will discuss specific details of potential small claims legislation this week during meetings with established supporters of copyright small claims. It is extremely important for us to work with Congress at the outset to create a small claims program that will operate as effectively and efficiently as possible. Through other meetings, we will continue to introduce the idea of copyright small claims and lobby for support for the issue. Our hope is that when a bill is formally introduced, this concept will already have vast support on both sides of the aisle in both the House and the Senate. We are well on our way toward accomplishing this!

In addition to advocating for the creation of copyright small claims, PPA will continue to lobby for improvements to the copyright registration process and the modernization of the U.S. Copyright Office.  Stay tuned to PPA.com/Advocacy for more updates from the Hill!

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Lindsey_9955e_bw_cr.jpgLindsey 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
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The FAA recently expanded its online drone registration system to include unmanned aircraft systems (UAS, or "drones") being used for commercial or public uses. Previously, online registration was only available for drones being used for hobby or recreational purposes, but no matter the purpose or activity, all drone owners are required to register every drone they have. The registration process only takes five to ten minutes. The cost is $5.00 and each drone registration is valid for three years.

Here's the official website to register your drone:  FAA.gov/UAS/Registration. Remember: only hobby and recreational uses are currently permitted unless the drone operator is a licensed pilot and has a Section 333 exemption from the FAA but stay tuned for new regulations that should be made public within the next few months. PPA wants to be very clear that the registration expansion does not mean that regulations have changed (though it is a good sign that the changes are coming very soon).

Registering a drone for business-related use is very similar to the hobbyist registration and is outlined in this article PPA published previously. There is just one additional step required and that is for you to provide the manufacturer, model, and serial number of your drone. The system will also prompt you to input information about your organization (your business) into your account profile.

Once you have registered your drone, you will be assigned a registration number. Be sure to follow the FAA's instructions for labeling your drone properly once you have that unique registration number. You must have your FAA registration certificate in your possession when operating any unmanned aircraft. That proof of registration may be either on paper or electronic, but it must be available immediately upon request.

And remember: Commercial drone use is still heavily regulated, requiring an exemption from the FAA and a pilot's license to be fully legal; however, we expect those requirements to be loosened soon. The FAA making commercial registration available online bodes well for the new regulations appearing just around the corner. We'll keep you posted on any and all updates here and on PPA.com/Drones.

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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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 PPA.com/Advocacy 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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-    Currently, commercial use of UAS is almost completely prohibited.

o    The only way to use UAS commercially is to obtain a section 333 exemption from the FAA (a very complicated process which usually involves an attorney) and to have someone with a pilot's license operating the UAS.

-    This makes drone photography virtually impossible for professional photographers unless they also have a pilot's license.

o    For this reason, PPA (over the past few years) has been regularly meeting with the FAA and members of Congress to petition for better regulations.

-    In February 2015, the FAA proposed a set of new regulations which would create a new type of airman certification specifically for UAS operators which would be required in lieu of a pilot's license and would be obtained through a knowledge test.  This proposal improves other regulations for small drone use (55 lbs. or less) affecting photographers by allowing users to fly them much closer to buildings and people than currently authorized.

o    PPA submitted comments to the FAA based on the proposal.  We were generally very pleased with the proposal but did suggest some minor changes.

-    In May 2015, the FAA gave themselves a deadline of no more than 16 months to pass the final rule.  We have the impression the final regulations will be very similar to the proposal and will greatly improve the regulatory framework as it applies to professional photographers' use of UAS.

-    In December 2015, the online registration process was introduced for HOBBYIST use of drones.  

o     In our most recent meeting with the FAA's UAS integration office, PPA was told that their goal for passing the new regulations is early summer 2016, and that they will be completed before the end of 2016 at the latest. We have since heard that it may be even sooner.We expect the use of UAS among professional photographers to massively expand this spring/summer once the new rule is made official and in the years that follow.

Stay right here every week for all the latest Drone news and updates!

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