Ad image

PPA Today: PPA Advocacy Archives

Recently in PPA Advocacy Category

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for copyright_Support-HR-1695.png
Guest post by Tom Kennedy, Lara Kisielewska, Akili-Casundria Ramsess, Juliette Wolf-Robin, and David Trust.

Most everyone knows the phrase "a picture is worth a thousand words." It captures the notion that one image can instantly convey complex ideas and world events, changing how we think individually and as societies. For instance, who could forget the picture of an American sailor kissing a woman in Times Square, which expressed the elation, joy and excitement of the nation as World War II came to an end. And the 1989 image of a lone protestor standing before oncoming tanks in Tiananmen Square still resonates deeply today. In both cases, visual artists--who depend on strong copyright protections to make a living--captured those iconic images. 

Visual artists include illustrators, graphic designers, artists, photographers, visual journalists, videographers, and others who create and license their works for the news media, magazines, advertising, books and other publications, consumer products, digital platforms, multimedia presentations, and broadcast. Typically, they are one-or-two-person businesses and small family enterprises that not only create, but are responsible for running all facets of a small business.

To help facilitate the marketplace for creative works, visual artists have long called for modernizing the US Copyright Office. That's why we strongly support HR 1695, the Register of Copyrights and Selection and Accountability Act, which would make the Register of Copyrights, who leads the USCO, a presidentially appointed, Senate confirmed position. The bill recently passed out of the House Judiciary Committee by the overwhelming bipartisan vote of 27-1.

The Copyright Office, which resides in the Library of Congress, maintains copyright registration and recordation databases upon which creators, licensees, users and consumers depend, but which are sadly outdated. Indeed, despite repeated calls by former Registers for reform, including releasing the most forward looking IT plan in the Office's history, it has been unable to modernize because it lacks the autonomy to do so. The Office's efforts have been frustrated because it resides in the Library of Congress where it competes with many other Library priorities for resources, technology and staff. This arrangement may have worked in the past, but the creative economy now contributes $1.2 trillion to GDP and supports 5.5 million jobs. The Register must be given the autonomy to modernize the Office to suit the specialized needs of the copyright system. And it is appropriate that the office of the Register be elevated to a stature commensurate with the economic sector to which the duties of the Office are so critical.

The Office also has an important policy mission, statutorily acting as Congress' impartial advisor on copyright law and policy. Historically, the Copyright Office has been an invaluable resource to the Congress, providing expert counsel on issues large and small. This is particularly important for individual creators and small businesses, for without this dedicated "think tank," Congress might not hear the plight of our creative members on critical issues such as how to handle copyright infringement claims too small to justify the expense of a federal law suit. The Copyright Office must have the autonomy necessary to continue its vital advisory role to Congress.

Some critics of the legislation have suggested that elevating the Register is an attempt to "give more power to Hollywood"--something we in the visual arts community find puzzling. Without a doubt, the Copyright Office's technological shortcomings affect visual artists far more than movie studios and record labels. For instance, Variety reported that 563 movies were released in 2014 by the entire movie industry, which is a relatively small number of copyrights to register for an entire year. By contrast, a single photographer can take over 500 photos in one shoot, and may create as many as 50,000 individual photographs per year. Further, unlike large entertainment companies, we don't have the luxury of in-house professionals who can dedicate their time to navigating the complexities of the registration process. As a result, many visual artists forego registration, which then makes defending one's rights in court a virtual impossibility. Put another way, the Copyright Office's problems are a de facto regressive tax--the smaller the creator, the more adversely they are impacted.

Congress should swiftly pass HR 1695, thereby taking an important first step towards fixing these problems. By ensuring the Register has the autonomy necessary to begin implementing operational reforms and continuing to provide impartial advice, Congress will help ensure that visual artists and all creators can continue creating works that contribute to our economy and help shape our society in the digital age.

Tom Kennedy is the Executive Director of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP). Lara Kisielewska is the President of the Graphic Artists Guild (GAG). Akili-Casundria Ramsess is the Executive Director of the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA). Juliette Wolf-Robin is the National Executive Director of the American Photographic Artists (APA). And David Trust is the CEO of the Professional Photographers of America (PPA).

by Sidra Safri
Thumbnail image for IMG_6502.jpg

Many members have asked, "What good will come from making the Register of Copyright a presidential appointee and how would this make the process less political?" These are great questions with a slightly complex answer. 

Currently, the Copyright Office is housed in the Library of Congress with the Librarian of Congress as the head decision maker. The Librarian is appointed by the President for a 10-year term. The Library and the Librarian's role is to capture a screen shot of society and have it readily available to everyone with no regard to credit or compensation. 

On the other hand, the Copyright Office and the Register's role is to protect copyright, provide and review registration, and advise Congress on copyright law and policy. With this in mind, one can see that the Library of Congress and the Copyright Office are at odds with what they do. Making the Register of Copyright a presidential appointee is the first step in giving the Copyright Office some autonomy to effectively do what they were created for. 

Further, an added protection to ensure this does not become a highly politicized appointment, is that whoever is appointed is done so with the advice and consent of Congress. Since Congress would be relying on the Register so heavily it would ensure someone with ample knowledge and experience would be appointed. 

For these reasons, PPA asks you to support H.R 1695 and take the first step in modernizing the Copyright Office. Send a letter to your representative or call them NOW

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Copyright_monthly_push_ppa_today_ad_650x160_Members.jpg
iStock_000004150259Medium.jpg
PPA's partners at the Copyright Alliance have put together a great blog post, giving a counterpoint to misconceptions about HR 1695. Read and share now! 

The myths are:  

  • MYTH #1: It's "mystifying" why congress would prefer a Presidentially appointed Register of Copyrights to one appointed by the Librarian of Congress.
  • MYTH #2: A Presidentially appointed Register will become "more concerned with policy than modernization".
  • MYTH #3: This bill is an attempt to take power away from Dr. Hayden and give it to President Trump. 
  • MYTH #4: Making the Register a Presidential appointee will politicize the position.
  • MYTH #5: There isn't time to wait for a presidential appointee. A "new and qualified" Register must be appointed right away.
  • MYTH #6: A 10-year term would make the Register "less accountable to Congress and the public."
After you dig deeper into these myths and the reasons they're just that, be sure to have everyone you know lend their voice in support of HR 1695! Use PPA's pre-written messages and call or write your representative.  

By Sidra Safri

iStock_86515645_MEDIUM.jpg
The FAA recently introduced new restrictions over approximately 133 military facilities that go into effect today, April 14th, 2017.  These new restrictions limit drones from flying over the designated facilities to help ensure the military is able to protect sensitive information for national security purposes. 

A major component of the new provisions is to prevent drones from flying up to 400 feet within the lateral borders of the facility. Drones already were not able to fly over military facilities, but they are also now limited to how close they can come to the perimeter of these facilities. There are a few exceptions to these new restrictions, but those exceptions must be discussed directly with the facility in question. 

Violation of the new Drone Airspace restrictions can lead to civil penalties, and criminal charges. To determine which facilities fall under the new restriction visit the Notice to Airman Website here

As always stay tuned for more updates!

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Copyright_monthly_push_ppa_today_ad_650x160_Members.jpg
copyright_Support-HR-1695.pngUPDATE: 
Since we have put out this call to action, certain districts across the country have called saying they are unable to send a letter or make a call to their representatives. This is because their district currently does not have a representative and we are waiting for the results of their special elections. The following is a list of states/districts that are going to be affected by this, and the dates of the elections:

Special Elections (House)

  • Kansas 4th District- just had elections on April 11th and will take some time to set up office and contact information. 
  • Entire State of Montana- Only has one representative and their election is on May 25th
  • California 34th District- Just had election April 4th and will take some time to set up office and contact information
  • Georgia 6th- Election is April 18th 
  • South Carolina 5th- Election is May 2nd
  • Pennsylvania 10th- Election is TBD
Sometimes in order to get to your final destination, there are a few things that need to be done along the way. This is one of those things. PPA has been concentrating on Copyright Small Claims lately, but there's a bill in the House of Representatives that needs our attention now!

H.R 1695 allows the position of Register of Copyrights to become a presidential appointee. This ensures that someone with ample knowledge of the copyright world leads the office in an unbiased manner, as it begins to undergo the modernization process. This change will also guarantee the office is able to serve all creative artists the way it was designed to. Making sure the office takes a step in the right direction will not be possible without YOU! 

Please take 30 seconds and click here to send a letter to your representative or click here to give them a call! PPA has done the scripting and writing for you, so no worries. It's time to pass this legislation!


Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Copyright_monthly_push_ppa_today_ad_650x160_NonMembers.jpg

by Sidra Safri


3/29/17
IMG_7121.JPG
12:20 p.m.

H.B 1695 has passed the House Judiciary Committee today! It pass with 27 yeas and 1 nay. Remember, this bill is proposing to make the Register of Copyrights a presidential appointee. 

PPA fully supports this since we were shocked by the abrupt termination of Maria Pallante. This is a great first step towards insuring that the Copyright Office is on the right path to modernization and continues to include small creators.

The bill will be presented to the House for a full vote soon.


11:23 a.m.

We are currently sitting in a house judiciary hearing (pictured, with portraits of Chairman Bob Goodlatte and Ranking member John Conyers) about making the Register of Copyrights a presidential appointee. This part of the process is called a markup. During this "markup" all Representatives (those who support, are against, sponsored or any other stance) can submit their input and recommend changes. This ensures that the bill is properly debated and can pass when it is presented to the full house.

Stayed tuned for more updates and a preview of Chairman Goodlatte (R-VA)'s comments about the bill!


9:45 a.m.

This is day two for PPA on Capitol Hill and things are going great! 

Yesterday evening, we met with Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID). This was our first time meeting with him and it was important to get his office up to speed about small claims and why it's so important to photographers. Rep Labrador's office showed a lot of interest in the bill since they are strong supporters of small businesses. They have asked us to keep them updated about the bill and we hope they will sign on when time comes.

After talking about small claims, we briefly talked about the Register of Copyright position becoming a presidential appointee. We found out that Representative Labrador is a co-sponsor of that bill. Upon hearing this, we wanted to take the time to thank him and his efforts to protect the copyright office.

After meeting with Representative Labrador, we ended the day meeting with Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL)'s office. This was another first time meeting, but an important one, since she was recently asked to join the Judiciary Committee by Speaker Paul Ryan. This meeting went well, as we explained the intricacies of the small claims bill. Once again, we hope when times comes she will support small claims!

For the rest of today...we are doing things a little differently. We had a full day of meetings lined up. However, as we all know, things can change at the drop of a hat on Capitol Hill. Instead we are attending the bill markup of turning the Register of Copyrights into a presidential appointee. This will allow us to hear first-hand what changes are being made to the bill and also allows us to meet with Representatives and staffers.

Stay tuned for more updates!

And check out this morning's Facebook Live update (the screen alignment is fixed after the first 30 seconds or so!) with CEO David Trust and Government Affairs Coordinator Sidra Safri. 


3/28/17 
5:15 p.m.
Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for DC.jpg
It's been another fantastic day on Capitol Hill for PPA and Small Claims!

Things started off at lunch with Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). Representative Blackburn gave great insight into how important copyright and IP issues are to many members of congress and how she fully understands where PPA is coming from. Being from Nashville, she knows the importance of protecting creative artists and will certainly look into Small Claims when the time comes.

During this lunch Rep. Blackburn also shared how upset she was when Maria Pallante was dismissed from the copyright office and is interested-- like much of congress-- to see how the bill suggests to turn the position into a presidential appointment. 

After lunch with Blackburn we met with Representative Mike Bishop (R-MI). This meeting was the first time PPA has met with this office. During this meeting it was clear that Representative Bishop's office understands that copyright law currently is flawed and knows that something needs to be done. His office is interested in seeing the small claims bill and we hope that his office will support small claims and go on to become a co-sponsor.

Once we left Representative Bishop's office we went to go visit Representative Lieu (D-CA)'s office. Representative Lieu has worked closely with Representative Chu on various items through the Judiciary committee and we hope he will sign on as well. During this time we also had the opportunity to talk about modernizing the copyright office as well as the introduction of the recent bill to make the registrar a presidential appointment.

We have two more meetings today and we hope that they go as well as all of our earlier ones did. Stay tuned! 


9:00 a.m.

Good morning everyone!

PPA is off to Washington D.C. again to continue laying the groundwork for small claims. We have a jam packed day ahead.

The main purpose of this trip is to continue bringing attention to the Freedom for American Small Creators Act (the small claims bill) and highlight why this is so important to creative artists, especially photographers. Since the bill has not been reintroduced yet (but it will be soon!), PPA hopes many of the representatives we talk to will be willing to co-sponsor the bill when time comes.

Stay tuned for more updates after our meetings with your representatives.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for STDiff_monthly_push_ppa_footer_650x160.jpg
iStock_000017257808_Large.jpg
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.


Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for STDiff_monthly_push_ppa_footer_650x160.jpg


by Sidra Safri 

Drone_Alert_StateBill9.pngOn February 8th, the West Virginia Senate introduced a "Drone Bill" that effectively makes it difficult for photographers to continue to use drones for aerial photography. 

Senate Bill 9 contains two harmful provisions. As it currently stands, the legislation states:

  1. If you are operating a drone within 100 feet of a structure, you must have prior consent of all owners or occupants of any pictured structures. 
  2. In order to intentionally take a photograph of another person, you must have prior permission. This also applies to large group photographs taken at weddings, fairs, etc. 

Both provisions make it extremely difficult for commercial/real estate, wedding and event photographers, making it not only impossible, but impractical, to get consent from all owners or people pictured. 

Further, these provisions are so overreaching and do not consider the actual unintended effects on consumers. Photographers will not be able to fulfill consumer expectations due to the limitations placed on them from this arbitrary law.

This bill has already passed the Senate and is currently be reviewed by the House Judiciary Committee, with it possibly going to a vote in the next few days.

West Virginia PPA members and those who care about visual artists and small business rights need to take action now! 

Reach out to your representative here and tell them that Senate Bill 9 is unfair to Drone Photographers! We've already done all the work for you. Reach out to your representative here and tell them Senate Bill 9 is unfair to photographers!*** West Virginia ONLY, please!

Everyone else, take note: This could be the first step in several states attempting to adopt similar legislation. PPA and your Grassroots Action Team will keep you informed so we can all stand together and fight this impediment to your small business. 

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for STDiff_monthly_push_ppa_footer_650x160.jpg

by Sidra Safri
iStock-122996010.jpg

For a long time, wanting to take photos on train tracks has been extremely popular. What better way to celebrate a milestone and show that you are "heading somewhere in life" while getting some phenomenal shots? As great as this sounds, PPA has news for you: TAKING IMAGES ON TRAIN TRACKS IS TRESPASSING, THEREFORE IT'S ILLEGAL! 

Recently, this has become such a big deal that Union Pacific (second largest railroad company in the U.S) will seek removal of any photos that violate this policy

This may sound unnecessary, but safety is a huge concern around train tracks. While taking pictures on tracks, it is extremely easy to get stuck, not see or hear the train coming, or simply step in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Many people have heard about the recent story out of Navasota, Texas about a young athlete, mother-to-be, and aspiring model. Her death could have been easily prevented. And recently, the TODAY show demonstrated how these massive machines are able to "sneak up" on people before they can get away to safety.

As photographers, it is our duty to inform our clients about what can or cannot be done. If a client is adamant about taking photos on train tracks, many states have train museums or "false" tracks that allow you to do so. 

Keep in mind: SAFETY should always be the number one priority!

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for STDiff_monthly_push_ppa_footer_650x160.jpg

By Sidra Safri 
iStock_000081806061_Large.jpg

Photographers BEWARE! Google's new imaging software, RAISR, is every photographer's worst nightmare. RAISR stands for "Rapid and Accurate Image Super Resolution". This software, like many others on the market, is able to take a low-quality image and turn it into a larger, and slightly better, image.

RAISR poses a bigger threat because this software is able to improve the image to make it look almost identical to the original! Even more worrisome is that this software is able to do this 10 to 100 times faster than most, and also works on mobile devices. With access to higher quality images on all devices, the door is now open for even more infringement opportunities without any remedy for photographers, perpetuating the unfair copyright-infringement cycle! As software continues to advance, it has become more important than ever to have a copyright-infringement remedy available for photographers and creative artists. 

With the passage of Small Claims legislation in the (relatively near) future, photographers will have the ability to prevent infringers from stealing their work. In order to make this a reality we need your support! Sign your name to the Grassroots Action Team at ppa.com/grassroots. We're trying to get 30,000+ names to show Congress how important this issue is for our members and their communities. For more information about small claims please visit ppa.com/advocacy or contact the Government Affairs Manager at ssafri@ppa.com.  

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for STDiff_monthly_push_ppa_footer_650x160.jpg


About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries in the PPA Advocacy category.

Photography Business is the previous category.

PPA Affiliates is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Live Chat is closed