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James Williams, the Federal Aviation Administration's Chief of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration, announced during a panel discussion Monday, May 4, that a final rule on the new regulations for small drone operation will most likely be made within the next 16 months. 

Of course 16 months might not sound ideal, as we would like for drone regulations to be improved now. However, the announcement of a time frame is a positive development. Additionally, given the complexity of the FAA as a federal agency and that just last month they received thousands of comments on their proposed regulations, 16 months or less is probably a better than what we could hope for in terms of a timeline. At PPA, we are confident that the new rule will make drone photography a feasible option for professional photographers.

Here is Williams' full statement:

"The standard timeline from the completion of a comment period to federal rule is 16 months. I believe that the FAA will do everything within its power to meet that timeline or beat it. It is a fairly complex rule and there are a lot of comments that have to be resolved, and it will take some time to do it. But it's an administrator-level priority to get this done, and I believe this interest is shared all the way up the chain inside the executive branch. I'm confident it will move forward as fast as humanly possible."

This statement follows last month's progress on new drone regulations. We will continue to keep you up to date as the situation develops!

With PPA, Be More In The Know.

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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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By: Lauren Walters

How do you compete with amateur photographers? You have good resources at PPA to help! The See The Difference consumer-focused campaign aims at showing consumers "the difference" when evaluating photographers...and realize the importance of hiring a pro like you. It may seem hard to differentiate yourself, but you can stand out from the crowd by putting the tools and resources PPA developed for its members to work for you. This See The Difference toolbox can show your clients the difference it makes when hiring a PPA photographer. If you are with PPA, you can download videos, logos, customizable brochures, and other marketing materials to educate your clients. It's marketing help and sales pitch that support YOU as PPA photographers.

The video below is a reminder that when it comes to weddings, the day happens so quickly that you barely remember all the details. A PPA photographer not only stays focused, but captures the emotion - not just the composition. (If you do not photograph weddings, no worries: there are more videos for other specialties on the See The Difference Resource page!)

Watch this video then consider sharing it with your wedding clients so they can see why they should hire a PPA photographer like you!

 

There are a lot more videos on the See The Difference Resources page including some showing the importance of hiring professional Family and High School Senior photographers. If you're a PPA photographer, grab the embed codes for your own website today. There are other resources you can download/embed/use and share to spread the work and make a more compelling case for your professional status:

  •         logos
  •          brochures
  •          side-by-side comparisons
  •          Facebook tab
  •          other tools

Go ahead, show the difference hiring a professional photographer makes. Remember: the more photographers spread the word, the more successful and more powerful the "See The Difference" message becomes, which benefits ALL professional photographers! 

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."   





Read the official statement in full below:

Professional Photographers of America and Other Photographic Associations Settle Litigation With Google

Agreement ends four years of litigation over the inclusion of visual works in Google Books 

NEW YORK, NY - Professional Photographers of America (PPA) and a group of photographers, visual artists and affiliated associations have reached a settlement with Google in a lawsuit over copyrighted material in Google Books. The parties are pleased to have reached a settlement that benefits everyone and includes funding for the PLUS Coalition, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping rights holders and users communicate clearly and efficiently about rights in works. Further terms of the agreement are confidential. 

The agreement resolves a copyright infringement lawsuit filed against Google in April, 2010, bringing to an end more than four years of litigation. It does not involve any admission of liability by Google. As the settlement is between the parties to the litigation, the court is not required to approve its terms. This settlement does not affect Google's current litigation with the Authors Guild or otherwise address the underlying questions in that suit. 

The plaintiffs in the case are rights holder associations and individual visual artists. The associational plaintiffs are The American Society of Media Photographers, Inc., Graphic Artists Guild, PACA (Digital Media Licensing Association)., North American Nature Photography Association, Professional Photographers of America, National Press Photographers Association, and American Photographic Artists. The individual plaintiffs are Leif Skoogfors, Al Satterwhite, Morton Beebe, Ed Kashi, John Schmelzer, Simms Taback and Gail Kuenstler Taback Living Trust, Leland Bobbé, John Francis Ficara, and David W. Moser. 

The case is American Society of Media Photographers, Inc. et al. v. Google Inc., Case No. 10-CV-02977 (DC) pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. 

About Google Inc. and Associational Parties

Google is a global technology leader focused on improving the ways people connect with information. Google's innovations in web search and advertising have made its website a top Internet property and its brand one of the most recognized in the world. 

Professional Photographers of America (PPA) represents more than 27,000 photographers and photographic artists from dozens of specialty areas including portrait, wedding, commercial, advertising and art. 

Founded in 1944, The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) is the premier trade association for the world's most respected photographers. 

The Graphic Artists Guild (GAG) is a national union of graphic artists dedicated to promoting and protecting the social, economic and professional interests of its members and for all graphic artists including, animators, cartoonists, designers, illustrators, and digital artists. 

PACA (Digital Media Licensing Association) is a trade association established in 1951 whose members include more than 80 companies representing the world of digital content licensing. 

NANPA, the North American Nature Photography Association, is the first and premiere association in North America committed solely to serving the field of nature photography. 

Founded in 1946 the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) is the "voice of visual journalists" promoting and defending the rights of photographers and journalists, including freedom of the press in all its forms. 

The American Photographic Artists (APA) is a leading national organization run by and for professional photographers. 

Google is a trademark of Google Inc. All other company and product names may be trademarks of the respective companies with which they are associated.

 

PPA is proud to announce a HUGE agreement the Nickles Group to help us out on Capitol Hill. This will put us front and center during the ongoing copyright discussion at the most critical time. Momentum is really building toward that Next Great Copyright Act and we will now be more plugged in than ever. 


In fact, with the Nickles Group, we're now the only photography association with a full-time presence! This agreement is a really big deal and you need to know about it.


Here is the press release in its entirety:

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Professional Photographers of America (PPA) announced today it has reached an agreement with The Nickles Group, LLC, to represent PPA on Capitol Hill. The Nickles Group will help the association's lobbying efforts for photographers' copyrights.

Through the Nickles Group, one of the preeminent lobbying firms on the Hill, PPA will be at the center of the action on a daily basis. Using the Nickles Group's extensive network, PPA will make introductions, build relationships and arrange meetings with key players and also create opportunities to testify at Congressional hearings. The partnership looks to build upon the strong foundation PPA has established in Washington over the past 15 years.

Founded in 2005, the Nickles Group brings together an accomplished team of public policy advocates and experts to provide strategic advice, policy development and political navigation for clients seeking to engage in the federal legislative or executive process.

"We're pleased to join forces with the PPA to be an important advocate for the rights of photographers and other creators," said Don Nickles, chairman and CEO of The Nickles Group. "With copyright issues becoming more complex as Congress reviews the laws that govern rights, we look forward to partnering with PPA and impacting policy for the better."

Nickles, a Senator for the state of Oklahoma from 1981 to 2005 certainly knows his way around the Hill. In his tenure, Nickles built a legacy of advancing free enterprise causes, from natural gas deregulation and repeat of the windfall profits tax in the 1980s, to repeal of onerous ergonomics regulation and the fight against federalized healthcare during the Clinton Administration. He was the author of the Congressional Review Act and the Child Citizenship Act, and the principal sponsor of President Bush's economic growth package in 2003, which cut capital gains and corporate dividend taxes to 15 percent.

Thanks to this agreement PPA now has the ability to put its members front and center, a coup for PPA given the recent discussions on orphan works and the U.S. Copyright office's push for the Next Great Copyright Act. 

"This could not come at a better time for us," said David Trust, CEO of PPA. "We are entering one of the most critical eras in the history of copyright law. This relationship with the Nickles Group will ensure that PPA members, and photographers in general, will have an increased position in the copyright discussion on Capitol Hill."

The Nickles Group represents the likes of the Comcast, Eli Lilly and Company, Exxon Mobil and now PPA. The agreement makes PPA the only professional photography association with a full-time presence on Capitol Hill.

In addition to having the photography world's only copyright and government affairs department, PPA provides a wealth of resources for photographers online, including sample contracts and model releases. For more information, visit ppa.com/copyright.

 

Of course, as the Nickles Group reports back to us, we will forward the info on to you! Things are really cooking up there in Washington. BE MORE!

 

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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.)

 

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PPA will continue to provide updates on the ongoing copyright movement. Things are getting really exciting!

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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You know how we keep saying PPA has your back? Well we mean it. And our Copyright & Government Affairs department advocates for you members and professional photographers everywhere at the top--on Capitol Hill! Here is an update on what was learned from their latest visit, courtesy of Maria Matthews, department manager.

Copyright Talks Continue on Capitol Hill
Photographers and photography were at the center of a discussion by the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on our most recent visit to Capitol Hill. Just before Congress broke for their August recess, talks focused on the courts, intellectual property and the internet. While not photography-centric, the copyright debate is at the center of the subcommittee's September agenda, with three additional copyright hearings on everything from satellite regulations (i.e. the laws that allow networks to continue to broadcast your favorite shows) to highly specialized hearings on role of voluntary agreements.

During this time, PPA met with the Register of Copyrights as well as key Congressional leaders to stress the importance of strong copyright laws, and the need for accessible enforcement tools in order to protect your livelihood. Our message was received positively by every office we encountered. While we are encouraged by the efforts both the Copyright Office and the Subcommittee are taking to examine copyright statute as it currently exists, we are keeping a watchful eye on the unfolding debate to ensure that photographers are not forgotten.  

Although the date has not yet been set, the Committee Chair has committed to hosting additional copyright-themed hearings prior to their December recess. In addition to the subcommittee's copyright-intensive schedule, we are also expecting the release of the Copyright Office's study on the Copyright Small Claims Process and possible improvements to the registration process.


National Park Service Releases Updated Rules & Fees
While Congress is plugging away at copyright, elsewhere on Capitol Hill the Department of the Interior (DOI) released updated "Special Use Permit" rules for still photography. The rules, which have been five years in the making, offer clarity on when a photographer would be required to seek a permit from a park superintendent prior to arriving for a session on park or other federal land. (Note: These rules also apply to areas managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and U.S. Forest Service.)

Thanks to these revisions, photographers now have the benefit of knowing the rules no matter which type of federal land they visit. While a basic set of requirements have been streamlined across these agencies, photographers will need to contact the specific property (or visit its website) to find out if there are certain seasonal restrictions (i.e. winter road closures or peak traffic periods) that might require additional clearance and/or fees.

The revised permit guidelines now say still photographers do not require a permit unless they're using a model, props, or if there are additional circumstances that require the use of park resources. For example, the location is off limits to the general public or resources to minimize the effect of the shoot on general visitors. This means that if you're entering the park and intend to stay "on the beaten path" chances are you won't need a permit and shouldn't be stopped and asked for one.

When it comes to models, props, and sets, DOI also provided photographer-friendly definitions to these once confusing terms. "Models" are no longer considered portrait subjects like members of a wedding party or high school graduates. "Props and Sets" are now specifically defined as "items constructed or place on agency lands" and extends to backdrops, lights and tracks. Tripods, something previously included in this list are no longer deemed a "prop" if they are not used with any other equipment.

While we expect many photographers will now be exempt from permits because of the new definition of "model," we continue to have great concerns over the newly proposed fee structure. The addition of a $250 monthly permit for 1-3 (including the photographer) should prove helpful to those who frequently use National Parks in small groups. However, photographers must still contend with any "locations fees" that are required by the individual park. Again these fees are calculated based on the specific agency resources you'll need to complete the assignment as well as any seasonal restrictions that might be in place.

We are keeping an eye out for any additional fee studies and opportunities to offer input on the rulemaking process on behalf of the photographic industry. Given the improvements to the law made to date, we are hopeful DOI will implement additional photographer friendly measures as they solidify the updated rules.


Healthcare Rates Released October 1
Although the www.healthcare.gov website has been up and running for some time now, Oct. 1, 2013, will be the first time it will be 100% populated with the rate information for your state. 

Check to see if your state has established its very own "healthcare marketplace." Many states are even already allowing those who could potentially qualify to be insured to shop policies and determine whether they're eligible for coverage. Simply visit the "Get Insurance" tab at www.healthcare.gov site and select your state to get started.

In addition to exploring your options October 1, you can also choose to purchase insurance. However, it is important to note that the policy will not take effect until January 1, 2014. During this initial implementation period, enrollment will extend through March 31, 2014. Even though the March 31, 2014, enrollment deadline has been set, there are certain special circumstances (i.e. marriage, relocation, birth of a child, etc.) that will allow you to modify your coverage or enroll for the very first time. 

If you need more information about what's to come or if you're curious how the new laws apply to you, we encourage you to watch the three part healthcare webinar series hosted by Ross Pallay, of Pallay Insurance Agency, Inc., PPA's medical and dental insurance partner.

That's all for now! As soon as any new information regarding copyright becomes available we will be the first to let you know. We've said it before and we'll say it again--we've got your back!
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