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by Lindsey Forson

Professional photography is undoubtedly an art form. But the images you create are so much more than your art - they are your meal ticket... your livelihood... your blood, sweat, and tears. This is why copyright protection is so important to photographers, and this is why PPA works so hard to fight for strong and effective copyright laws.
 
Based on the level of importance for small-business copyright owners along with considerations of feasibility, PPA has narrowed down three primary priorities for legislative action:

1.  The creation of a small claims option for copyright enforcement

2.  Modifications to the current copyright registration process to improve functionality and have more photographers register their work

3.  Modernization of the United States Copyright Office

If you have kept up with our advocacy updates throughout the past year, you have heard about these priorities before. It is increasingly apparent that updates are underway. There is a real possibility that legislation will advance as soon as this year! Therefore, the time has also come for all photographers to form a (much) deeper insight into what each of these issues could mean for their businesses and why they are worthy of your support.
 
So why modernize the United States Copyright Office? Technological advancements have occurred at a much quicker rate than the federal government has been able to keep up with. This has become a big issue and greatly affects creators like you. As incredible as it seems, the U.S. Copyright Office is simply not properly equipped to operate in today's world and effectively meet your copyright needs. Its main three needs are: adequate administrative capacity, authority, and accountability. All of which are currently lacking, at least to a certain degree.

As is, the U.S. Copyright Office is not a federal agency. It is an office situated within the Library of Congress (LOC) and is really more like one department within a larger agency. This means that the Copyright Office's systems and processes are tied to the LOC's. Most people understand that the needs of the millions of creators throughout our nation who deal with copyright issues are very different than the needs of a library (a very important library, but a library nonetheless). We are talking about IT needs, staffing needs, and budgeting needs - just to name a few.
 



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

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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... or when the U.S. Copyright System Received Grades of Ds and Fs

By Lindsey Forson

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To get a quick background on why we were in Washington, DC for this event, get the background info in this blog post.

The briefing was a huge success! Over 100 people were in attendance, most of who are on the staffs of key members of Congress. Our panel of five distinguished visual artists, Denis Reggie, John Schmelzer, Lisa Shaftel, Mary Fisk-Taylor, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, ABI, API, and Michael Grecco, spoke passionately about how copyright is at the core of their livelihoods and why copyright protection matters.

The primary message of the panel discussion was that although the copyright system in the United States may work for some creators such as the high value, low-volume creators like motion picture creators, it does not work at all for small business creators like visual artists in general and photographers in particular. When asked to grade the copyright system in America for how well it works for each of their specialties, the panelists gave either a D or an F! Some of the issues pointed out were loss of control of images on the Internet, a copyright registration system that does not work for the visual arts industries, and the fact that the only option for legal enforcement is in federal court which is simply not a feasible option for the vast majority of creators. Here is the handout that was given at the event that outlined our priorities. 

PPA CEO David Trust moderated the panel discussion. He asked our speakers to offer solutions to these issues. One solution presented by several panelists was a small claims process for copyright enforcement. 

"If we don't implement a small claims process for copyright enforcement, even if a perfect registration system is created, it will be irrelevant for small business creators for whom it's not feasible to sue in federal court," said Mary Fisk-Taylor who is co-owner of Hayes & Fisk Photography and a Member of the Board of Directors for PPA.

All of the panelists agreed that it is crucial to make improvements to the copyright registration process and to modernize the U.S. copyright office.

The audience was intrigued by the discussion and asked important questions to make sure that they had full understanding of the issues. Public misconception of copyright even extends to Capitol Hill. One question asked was, "What exactly is copyright? What does your copyright do for you?" This gave our panel the opportunity to educate the audience on the most fundamental aspect of this topic - what is copyright - which is truly not understood at all by too many.

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Recently, you may have read an article in the Washington Post, an op-ed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about an alarming photography trend - people taking selfies, professional portraits and videos on train tracks and trestles. Since 2011, 13 people have been killed and four injured while taking photos or videos on the tracks. Pedestrian rail trespassing is the leading cause of rail-related deaths each year; 483 were killed in 2014 in the U.S. and more than 2,100 died on the tracks in the last four years, according to preliminary government statistics.

Operation Lifesaver has been working to discourage this photography practice for years, via outreach to the news media, letter-writing campaigns and direct outreach to photographers, and co-hosting regular webinars with Professional Photographers of America raise the awareness and level of education on railroad photography dos and don'ts. Railroads have been active on this issue as well; for example, Union Pacific Railroad has created public service messages explaining why train tracks are the wrong place for senior photos.

Last week, Operation Lifesaver and PPA partnered on a free webinar for photographers, "Safety First: Photography Near Tracks and Trains". The recording of the webinar will be a free resource for all photographers.

Operation Lifesaver is working on some cool animated public service announcements aimed at professional photographers and selfie-takers, slated for release next month. Stay tuned for those... they can be useful to share with clients too!

And of course, there's the ongoing See Tracks? Think Train! public awareness campaign, developed with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the railroad industry. It offers information and resources to raise awareness about safety near tracks and trains.

How can you help stop this dangerous trend?

First, talk with your friends and family about why photographing on train tracks is a seriously bad idea:
  • Freight trains don't run on a schedule - always expect a train on any track, in either direction, at any time. 
  • Because of their size and weight, trains can't stop quickly to avoid a person or object on the tracks. 
  • Freight and passenger trains are faster and quieter than you think, and they overhang the tracks by at least three feet on both sides.
  • Railroad tracks, trestles, yards and equipment are private property. Not only is it illegal to trespass, but the offenders are subject to arrest and fine.

Second, share these graphics on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and other social media channels.

Use the hashtags #NoPhotosOnTrainTracks and #SeeTracksThinkTrain.

Thank you for helping stop these preventable tragedies. Together, we can save lives.

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By John Owens

DTrust.pngPPA's CEO David Trust was a guest on The PhotoTellers podcast with host Bill Ramsey to discuss The State of Professional Photography in America.

Before you get all doom and gloom, give it a listen! Bill and David discuss where things are now as well as what photographers can expect from the recent movement toward new copyright law in Congress. They also dive deep into the business of photography and how PPA helps the industry. 

Take a look at some of the topics covered below:

  • What is the future of professional photography in America? Are things as bad as people are saying?
  • Is copyright really in jeopardy? What's going on in Congress & the possibility of changing copyright law?
  • What are the biggest issues facing professional photographers?
  • What is the biggest business mistake photographers make?
  • The availability of "malpractice" insurance for a photographer.
  • The lifespan of a low-priced photographer entering the market today.
  • How to speak to potential clients so that they'll be willing to share some of their "pot of money" with you.
  • How to move from a "photographer hired to do a job" to "MY family photographer!"

It's a discussion that serves the interest of any photographer. It's perfect for background noise while you're in the throes of editing! Or set aside a half hour and give it your full attention.

You can listen to the podcast here, and if you have some extra time, there's another one with PPA president Michael Timmons linked on the page!

John_3197_1.JPGJohn Owens is PPA's resident wordsmith. Know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? That's where he comes in. The Connecticut transplant and (still) avid Hartford Whalers fan is an aspiring adventurist/novelist/racer on a lifelong quest to find the best trails, brews and burger.


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By John Owens

Millenials Are Part of A Lost Generation

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We are raising a generation of young adults who have been conditioned to not print, yet the public values photography more than ever. People take pictures of everything. EVERYTHING! The sunset, your pets, your food #brunch #noms, yet they don't leave your phone. OK, sure, you uploaded them to the cloud, but where do they go? And how do you know the cloud is safe?

Family heirlooms are becoming far too literally a thing of the past. Our current generation lacks the portraits on the wall. We have Facebook albums and Instagram feeds and CDs in a drawer, but honestly, when is the last time you printed a picture? Or had a family portrait professionally taken and ordered prints? It's a problem facing the photographic community, and the reason the biggest print labs in the industry convened at PPA headquarters in Atlanta for the Printing in Professional Photography Summit.

White House Custom  Colour and Miller's Professional Imaging, H+H, Simply Color, Tyndell Photographic, Hahnemuhle, Kodak Alaris, GW Molding, Finao and American Color Imaging, BWC Photo Imaging, Marathon Press and even Canon had representatives on hand to discuss the lost art of the printed portrait and how to find it again, both for photographers and consumers.

By Lindsey Forson

Commercial use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), commonly known as drones, continues to be a hot issue on Capitol Hill.

While we anxiously await the FAA's approval on new regulations for small UAS operations, things continue to move forward. Last week, Senator Cory Booker (New Jersey) and Senator John Hoeven (North Dakota) introduced the Commercial UAS Modernization Act (download it here: 265083514-UAS-Modernization-Act-of-2015.pdf) to the U.S. Senate. This legislation has not yet become law and would not replace the forthcoming rule from the FAA, but it could serve in the interim.   

If the Commercial UAS Modernization Act becomes law, it would make it legal to use UAS for commercial purposes within specified regulations. The Act would also accelerate the process of incorporating commercial UAS use into the current framework. If passed, the FAA would be required to act very quickly to establish the knowledge test and certification process for commercial UAS operators.

For an update on the FAA rulemaking process, check out PPA's past coverage of the issue. We will keep you updated on the progress of the Commercial UAS Modernization Act on the Hill!

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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