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PPA Today: Photography Legal Archives

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by Lindsey Forson

Last week, PPA CEO David Trust, made his first trip of 2016 to Capitol Hill to continue PPA's advocacy for the rights of professional photographers. PPA's government affairs team is already hard at work preparing for the next trip later this month.  As you may have read in last week's copyright update, 2016 could be a very big year for small business copyright owners such as professional photographers! PPA is fighting for three primary priorities that have been identified as the most vital copyright concerns for the photographic industry which could be addressed through the current Congressional Copyright Review:

1.    The Creation of a Small Claims Option for Copyright Enforcement
2.    Modifications to the Copyright Registration process to improve participation and functionality
3.    Modernization of the United States Copyright Office

As the House Judiciary Committee winds down on their formal review of Copyright Law, the exciting thing is that some of their priorities are the same as ours! Several lawmakers who serve on this committee have identified Copyright Office Modernization and Copyright Small Claims as their desired accomplishments of the Copyright Review. Copyright registration issues could very well be addressed along with these topics as all three relate to copyright processes.
 
This means that actual legislation which specifically accomplishes PPA's priorities may make progress in Congress as early as this year and definitely within the next couple of years! In other words - over the past few years, there has been a whole lot of copyright talk on the Hill, and now is the time for some copyright action!

During last week's trip to DC, PPA's CEO met with key stakeholders from other copyright industries, including motion picture and music groups, to discuss copyright issues from the small business perspective. We are very excited to report that there is a great deal of cooperation and support of these priority issues within the entire copyright community. Through the Copyright Alliance, an association of copyright stakeholders which PPA belongs to, we will continue to band together to create the strongest and most unified voice possible.

Trust also met with offices of House Judiciary Committee members, including Congresswoman Chu, Congressman Collins, and Congressman Marino, who are all strong and outright advocates for improving the copyright system for small business creators through key legislative changes such as those PPA has prioritized. We thank these lawmakers for their strong support of creator's rights and will continue to work with these offices and others to help to advance legislation that would accomplish our goals.

It is vital to PPA's cause that each and every member becomes educated on our advocacy priorities because, before long, we hope to be calling on you for help. When a bill on any key copyright issue(s) is scheduled for a vote in committee and especially once legislation moves to the House floor, we will call on members to contact your representatives. Because we think that may happen soon, but cannot know exactly when, we are beginning the education process now.

During the next several weeks, you will find on this blog detailed educational pieces on each one of our priorities, beginning next week with "Why Modernize the Copyright Office?" Stay tuned to Be More Informed to Be More Protected at PPA.com/Advocacy!

Lindsey Forson is PPA's Copyright & Government Affairs Coordinator. She works with members on a daily basis addressing copyright questions and works closely with our CEO to advocate for  professional photographers on Capitol Hill and to keep members informed on the issues that affect their businesses. She's new to Atlanta and spends most of her free time exploring the city (restaurants, markets, parks); spends three nights a week playing soccer and is a huge Auburn fan.

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by Lindsey Forson

PPA has a full time presence on Capitol Hill fighting for the rights of professional photographers. In fact, as you read this, PPA's CEO David Trust is in Washington, D.C. meeting with key lawmakers. As we kick off our 2016 advocacy efforts, we have hope that this will be the year that a lot of hard work will pay off.
 
Know that PPA is fighting for your rights! This is why we want you to know exactly what the issues PPA advocates for are and why these issues have been prioritized. As a result, during the next six weeks, we'll post more updates right here, on the PPA Blog. Weekly posts will cover key priority areas of PPA's legislative advocacy efforts and provide updates on the most recent progress on Capitol Hill. You can also follow these stories on PPA.com/Advocacy.

This blog series will also offer a webinar to dig a bit deeper on the same topics and discuss strategies for grassroots advocacy. Here are the advocacy priorities you can expect to learn more about:

1.    The Creation of a Small Claims Option for Copyright Enforcement
2.    Modifications to the Copyright Registration process to create a more functional system
3.    Modernization of the United States Copyright Office

Do not miss out on these opportunities to become fully informed on these vital issues which directly affect your livelihood! The time to become educated is now - very soon PPA might be calling on you for help!

Why now?

The House Judiciary Committee of the U.S. Congress has executed a comprehensive review of copyright in America during the past few years. PPA has been there all the way through, speaking out for the issues most important to the industry. In the next year or two, we hope to see legislation from this committee on issues vital to photography businesses, such as those outlined above. When, exactly? No one knows - which is the reason to prepare now.

If and when any copyright legislation moves from the Committee to the House floor, PPA will call on you! We will ask each and every PPA member to contact their representatives so that our voice truly is 29,000 photographers strong. Timing is essential - so it is extremely important to time this right. But when the day comes (hopefully soon!), PPA members will be educated and prepared to fight for your rights. Do your part now by taking full advantage of PPA's educational opportunities - Be More Protected!

Lindsey Forson is PPA's Copyright & Government Affairs Coordinator. She works with members on a daily basis addressing copyright questions and works closely with our CEO to advocate for  professional photographers on Capitol Hill and to keep members informed on the issues that affect their businesses. She's new to Atlanta and spends most of her free time exploring the city (restaurants, markets, parks); spends three nights a week playing soccer and is a huge Auburn fan.

by Lindsey Forson

There is a lot of information floating around right now regarding new FAA regulations for drone or UAS use. We want to clear a few things up for you and give you some helpful tips!

The new regulations released this week from the FAA require the registration of all Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). As of Monday, the FAA launched a very simple online registration process for hobbyist users of small UAS. There is a paper application currently available for commercial users, but it is important to note that commercial use is still only currently permitted for professional photographers who have been granted a Section 333 exemption and are licensed pilots or have exempt licensed pilots operating the UAS.

We expect the FAA to finalize new regulations for business-related use of small UAS during the first half of 2016. The FAA has also said that the online UAS registration system will be expanded to include business-related use by the spring of 2016. If you are using UAS for hobbyist or recreational purposes while awaiting new regulations for business use, be sure to register your UAS with the FAA as soon as possible. Please see our recent coverage (link to last blog post) for more information on the most recent regulatory change.

Here are step-by-step instructions for how to register your UAS after the jump:

by Lindsey Forson

You may have heard about the Copyright Review currently underway in the Judiciary Committee of the United States House of Representatives. If so, read on, as this is going to be a good update, otherwise read on, as this is stuff photographers need to know. You may be wondering what a Copyright Review on Capitol Hill could mean for you and your business. Some photographers may even be worried about potential changes to the Copyright Act, while others are excited about the prospect of improvements for small business creators. There is a lot of information floating around about this Copyright Review process and while most of it is very informative, a small amount is quite misleading.

That is why we are separating facts from fiction for you!

PPA works on advocacy in very close cooperation with several other visual arts associations. In recent PPA advocacy coverage you have likely read about the congressional briefing PPA hosted on Capitol Hill in which we included many of these organizations and the annual summit we participated in where we worked with these groups to set joint legislative priorities for the coming year. Another recent joint venture is a free webcast produced for the creative community, Copyright Reform: Separating Fact from Fiction.

We encourage professional photographers across the U.S. regardless of your specialty, to check out this series of six mini-webcasts as they will give you expert insight into just what exactly is going on up on the Hill.

The webinars are presented by two copyright esteemed experts in the field: June Besek, Executive Director of the Kernochan Center for Law, Media and the Arts at Columbia Law School and intellectual property attorney Nancy Wolff of Cowan DeBaets Abrahams & Sheppard LLP. Take advantage of this unique opportunity to hear about this important topic.

PPA is extremely excited about the possibility of some real, tangible improvements to our nation's Copyright System, especially for professional photographers! With our feet on the ground on Capitol Hill, we are actively fighting for a small claims enforcement option, improvements to the registration system, and modernization of the Copyright Office that will immensely help protect, enforce and defend photographers' copyrights! You can rest assured that should anything arise from the Copyright Review that could potentially be harmful to creators, PPA is here, fighting for photographers rights in particular, visual artists rights in general!

Learn more about PPA's advocacy efforts at PPA.com/Advocacy and Be More Protected!

Lindsey Forson is PPA's Copyright & Government Affairs Coordinator. She works with members on a daily basis addressing copyright questions and works closely with our CEO to advocate for  professional photographers on Capitol Hill and to keep members informed on the issues that affect their businesses. She's new to Atlanta and spends most of her free time exploring the city (restaurants, markets, parks); spends three nights a week playing soccer and is a huge Auburn fan.


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by Lindsey Forson

While anxiously awaiting the new regulations from the FAA that will allow for business-related use of "drones", or Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), many professional photographers have already purchased UAS to use for non-business-related aerial photography. Operating as a hobbyist gives you the opportunity to master the craft before you can integrate UAS photography into your business. Because UAS photography is soon to become even more prominent within the industry, PPA is dedicated to keeping you in the loop as regulatory changes occur!

Yesterday, the FAA released a new rule requiring the registration of all UAS. This rule becomes Federal Law on December 21, 2015. Users who do not register will be subject to civil and criminal penalties.

For small UAS, which is defined as UAS weighing more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds including the camera weight, the FAA is launching a web-based registration system beginning December 21. The registration fee is $5.00, but if you register prior to January 30, your fee will be waived. Upon completing the online registration, users will receive a Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership which will include a unique identification number. The ID number must be marked on the aircraft.

This new rule, however, does not affect the legality of business-related use of UAS. "We understand that the time is now for professional photographers to have the ability to integrate this technology into their businesses," says David Trust, CEO of PPA. "PPA continues to send the message to the FAA and Congress that time is of the essence for professional photographers to stay competitive in today's industry. We are urging the FAA to finalize the new regulations as soon as possible and are advocating for regulations that are not prohibitive to photographers." Until the FAA releases new regulations for non-hobby and non-recreational use of small UAS, professional photographers may only utilize UAS in connection with their businesses if they have been granted a Section 333 exemption from the FAA and the UAS is operated by a licensed pilot. We expect the new regulations to be released during the first half of 2016.

 For this reason, the online UAS registration system currently only supports UAS used for hobby or recreational purposes. The FAA has announced that it will integrate enhancements allowing for the registration of unmanned aircraft to be used in connection with a business by spring of 2016. More information from the FAA is available here

Lindsey Forson is PPA's Copyright & Government Affairs Coordinator. She works with members on a daily basis addressing copyright questions and works closely with our CEO to advocate for  professional photographers on Capitol Hill and to keep members informed on the issues that affect their businesses. She's new to Atlanta and spends most of her free time exploring the city (restaurants, markets, parks); spends three nights a week playing soccer and is a huge Auburn fan.

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By Lindsey Forson

Drones continue to be a hot-button issue in Washington, and PPA has been at the forefront of the ongoing discussions. Make sure you read our previous coverage and then dive in on the brief update below!

A final rule on the FAA's proposed new regulations for drone operation is still in the works and PPA is pushing hard to make it happen. If and when passed, the process for operating small and micro drones for commercial use will become monumentally more feasible than it currently is. PPA is working with The Nickles Group to submit comments to the FAA on the proposal to try to ensure the new rules are as favorable as possible for professional photographers.

In the meantime, the only way for most professional photographers to legally operate small drones for commercial purposes is to petition for an exemption. The Secretary of Transportation has the authority to grant exemptions on a case-by-case basis to perform commercial drone operations prior to the finalization of the new rule. You can learn more about the Section 333 Exemption process
here.

One good thing is that the FAA seems to understand that the current regulations are stifling. Last Tuesday (03/24), there was a significant update to the exemption process passed as an interim policy. You can read more about this update here. This change is meant to streamline to process because the exemption granting authority no longer has to designate a specific plot of airspace to those they grant exemptions to. In a senate hearing held last week, it was said that they hope this will give them more flexibility to grant exemptions. It is also meant to significantly reduce the timeline between applying for an exemption and being able to utilize the exemption.

One change in the exemption process is a good sign of progress and it is possible there could be more to come. Of course the real progress will be when the FAA passes a final rule on new drone regulations. Interim policies only provide a quick fix for "in the meantime."

We feel confident about a much improved final rule being passed in the future but are less confident about the timeline because it is a complex process. Currently, the FAA is awaiting comments on the proposal from the various concerned parties which are due this month. After considering the comments, it is likely the FAA will make some modifications. One of PPA's messages to the FAA is that time is of the essence!

We will post further updates here to the blog as they become available.


Lindsey Forson is PPA's Copyright & Government Affairs Coordinator.  She works with members on a daily basis addressing copyright questions and works closely with our CEO to advocate for professional photographers on Capitol Hill and to keep members informed on the issues that affect their businesses. She's new to Atlanta and spends most of her free time exploring the city (restaurants, markets, parks); spends three nights a week playing soccer and is a huge Auburn fan.  

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By Lindsey Forson

Remember that post from Wednesday on Arkansas Senate Bill 79? We already have an update!

Arkansas Senate Bill 79 was amended very quickly and sent back to the Senate floor Wednesday night. It passed through the Senate and was brought to a House committee early Thursday morning. For those who have not been following the story, SB-79 was created to protect personal property. The bill, however, contained potentially catastrophic consequences for photographers. SB-79 was vetoed by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson on Monday and sent back to Congress with a letter from the Governor suggesting improvements.

Efforts were made to mitigate the bill's negative implications concerning professional photographers and any of the concerns expressed to the Governor by PPA on Monday were addressed in the amendments. And though PPA was appreciative of the efforts to address our concerns, we still had issues with the amended bill. We felt certain statements were still overly broad, leaving photographers subject to possible lawsuits with a burden of proof. Several members also reached out Thursday mornings to express their concerns. Further, we were apprehensive about the rapid turn-around of this bill and felt there was not time to comprehensively address our concerns.

As the bill was in committee in the House of Representatives, we spoke directly with Senator Woods, the bill's sponsor. The Senator expressed that he tried to address our concerns and that the bill was never meant to harm photographers. He then asked PPA to publicly support the amended bill as it was presented in the House. Of course, we declined the request.

The bill FAILED yesterday afternoon in the House committee. We have spoken with Senator Woods and the attorneys who worked with him to create the bill expressing a desire to give input as further amendments are made. The parties involved seem very open to working with PPA's Copyright & Government Affairs team. The legislative session in Arkansas came to a close yesterday and we will not see this bill until the next session or until a special session. We look forward to working with Senator Woods to ensure the new bill will not be harmful to photographers, and we are grateful for his willingness to hear us out.

Our sincere thanks also to PPA Arkansas affiliate, APPA, who spent this week working tirelessly to advocate for photographers with representatives on the ground at the Capitol. The APPA representatives were in constant communication with us, keeping us updated every step of the way and having a huge hand in defeating the bill.

Whenever the next amended bill moves forward, we will give you another update and make sure it has photographer's best interest in mind! PPA has your back!

Lindsey Forson is PPA's Copyright & Government Affairs Coordinator.  She works with members on a daily basis addressing copyright questions and works closely with our CEO to advocate for professional photographers on Capitol Hill and to keep members informed on the issues that affect their businesses. She's new to Atlanta and spends most of her free time exploring the city (restaurants, markets, parks); spends three nights a week playing soccer and is a huge Auburn fan.  

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Professional photographers received good news over the weekend as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released new guidelines that would seem to pave the way for widespread legal use of small drones in the U.S. While the details are far from complete, the proposal would seem to open the door for professional photographers to use unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) as an additional offering for their clients. However, that door is not open just yet.  

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PPA has been working directly with the FAA and key Capitol Hill staff to bring about this very change - urging the FAA to loosen restrictions on some of the more basic uses for UAS, commonly referred to as drones. If approved, the newly released rules would allow legal use of unmanned aircraft by specific businesses including filmmakers, farmers, smokestack inspectors and some photographers. 

"It is going to be a while before our members can start to use drones as a regular part of their work," says PPA's CEO David Trust. "But these new rules clearly reflect that the FAA was listening to our concerns, and we applaud them for taking this step sooner than later."

The FAA's full proposed rules can be read here. The summary of provisions on pages 10-12 highlights the basics of the proposed regulations.

There are many operational limitations in the new regulations; however the four below are important to highlight:

1. Unmanned aircraft must weigh less than 55 lbs. (25 kg)

2. Visual line-of-sight (VLOS) only; the unmanned aircraft must remain within VLOS of the operator or visual observer

3. Small unmanned aircraft may not operate over any persons not directly involved in the operation. 

4. Daylight-only operations (official sunrise to official 11 sunset, local time).


There are also several operator responsibilities to keep in mind:

1. Pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center. 

2. Be vetted by the Transportation Security Administration. 

3. Obtain an unmanned aircraft operator certificate with a small UAS rating (like existing pilot airman certificates, never expires).12

4. Pass a recurrent aeronautical knowledge test every 24 months


"The proposed test has yet to be created," says Trust. "Once it is, we'll do all we can to help our members access the information and compile their applications." Sources in Washington D.C. indicate that creating the test could take months.  

And there could be even more positive news on the horizon for PPA members as the FAA has agreed to look at more relaxed regulations for micro-drones, a class of unmanned aircraft weighing less than 4.4 lbs. That is significant to photographers since many are already using these smaller drones outside of their business.  

PPA will be back on Capitol Hill next week for more meetings on both unmanned aircraft and copyright issues.  "As pleased as we are about the proposed rules for UAS, we might be even more pleased with the discussion about micro-drones," says Trust.  "I suspect they may even have more day-to-day application for our members. Hopefully we can find out more about those rules next week."   





In our recent "The Government Shutdown and You" blog post we discussed how the current government shutdown has affected copyright registration. Since we had copyright on our minds, we figured it was the perfect time to remind you of your PPA member copyright benefits. Remember, just because the copyright office is currently closed, that doesn't mean you can't still send in copyright registrations or that your copyrights are no longer valid!

A frustrating day for any photographer can be when you discover that someone is using one of your copyrighted images without your permission. Not only is it illegal--it also cuts into your bottom line! So what do you do if it happens to you? Luckily for PPA members, there's an easy solution: just call PPA's copyright and government affairs department at 800-786-6277 or by email at copyrightdefense@ppa.com.

Once you've contacted PPA, we'll help you determine the next steps to take to resolve your copyright infringement problem. If you wish to do so, you can also have us contact the infringer on your behalf as a way to get them to stop the practice or bring them to the negotiating table. 

Of course, we hope that you never run into a situation where someone has violated your copyright, which is why PPA provides a whole host of resources to help you protect your copyrights. 

Visit the copyright resources page to download the Copyright Kit, which will give you a great overview of the copyright process. You can also find copyright inserts you can include with your clients' orders to help keep them educated about copyright. Finally, there's also guides you can download to help you with electronic copyright registration as well as sample contracts for giving someone permission to reproduce one of your copyrighted images! 

Don't forget about the copyright webinars on the copyright resources page. They'll walk you through the basics of important copyright information you should be aware of. 

In addition to providing you with resources, PPA's RECON program checks on local retailers to make sure that they are obeying copyright law. If you're a PPA member, you can become part of this program! 

The Retail Compliance Network (RECON) is a dedicated group of photographer investigators who go undercover in an effort to preserve the integrity of photographers' copyrights. They embark on stealth missions to local retailers who offer photo finishing services or use online print services to see if they are complying with copyright law. If a retailer violates the laws, PPA approaches them with the results and urges them toward greater compliance. 

If you'd like to become a RECON investigator, you can download an application; just remember you need to be a PPA member. 

Along with all of these efforts, PPA members can also get a discount on services to add digital watermarks to your images. This is especially important for photographers that post copyrighted images to forums, websites, Facebook or other social media! The watermark lets everyone know who these images are copyrighted by and cuts down on illegal use.

So, access the copyright resources today and make sure all your images are properly copyrighted! These resources are just for PPA members, so join PPA today to have access to the resources as well as copyright assistance. 

Want to read more about protecting your images? Check out the "10 Ways for Photographers to Protect Their Copyright" post.
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Nothing says springtime like ducks, chicks and bunnies, right? How about bringing in a pony for one-of-a-kind western-themed portraits? Limited-edition portraits like that can be a great idea and seem easy enough on the surface...but they can easily go awry if you aren't taking the proper precautions to protect yourself and your client.

Read the complete article here.



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