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by James Yates
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By now you know PPA is always fighting for your rights on Capitol Hill, lobbying and advocating for improvements to copyright registration and the modernization of the copyright office (including a small claims option). 

We're pretty proud of the "big-picture" ways that we're working to improve your business's sustainability and profits, but there's a smaller way that PPA has helped, behind the scenes, for years: assessing whether or not members' works have been infringed.

If you feel your work has been infringed upon, but you don't know what to do about it, PPA can help with our Copyright Infringement Assistance tool. It's designed to point you in the right direction, with steps you can take to stop the infringement! It's quick and painless...because having your art stolen is painful enough!

With PPA's Copyright Infringement Assistance tool!, if you think you've been infringed upon, you only have to answer 2-3 questions and the tool will generate specific help for you, including DCMA takedown notices, certified letters to the infringing parties or letting you know when it's time to contact an attorney.

Stop by PPA.com/Copyright and check out all the copyright assistance available to you as a member!



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By Sidra Safri
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In the world of Intellectual Property (IP) there are three main categories:

1. Patents
2. Trademarks
3. Copyright

These three categories are distinct in their own ways and work to protect their creator, inventor, or the company that made them or who they represent. All three (patents, trademarks, and copyrights) can be used together, but people largely tend to confuse the differences between Copyright and Trademark. 

A trademark can be wording, phrasing, slogan symbols, graphics or designs that help identify a brand or set them apart from others. A logo is a great example of a trademark. Trademarks do not expire after a set number of years, therefore giving them the ability to last forever as long as they are being used. You are not required to register a trademark with the United State Patent Office, but are encouraged to do so for added protection and benefit.

A copyright protects original creations that include literary works, performing arts, photographs, etc. and can be registered with the Copyright Office in the Library of Congress. Copyright protection is determined based on different factors such as when the content was created, was it created using a pseudonym or anonymously, or it was a work-for-hire. These protections can last from 50 years after the creator's death to 120 years after publication. 

Similar to a trademark, a copyright does not need to be registered but is encouraged for added protection and higher statutory damages. 

For more information and a more detailed breakdown of these three main categories of IP, visit the USPTO website. 


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by Sidra Safri
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As photographers we all understand the importance of the Copyright Office and everything it is meant to do for the world of copyright. However, besides being the protector of copyrights, the Office's other main purpose is to continuously provide Congress with the proper knowledge necessary to make decisions in the area of Intellectual Property. 

However, to fully understand the Copyright Office and how copyright law has evolved, it is necessary to go back to the early years of America. In 1787, during discussions for the Constitutional Convention, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 was added. It stated "the Congress shall have power...to promote the process of science and useful arts, by securing for limited time to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." This law would go on to shape Copyright Law for many years to come.

Below is a short timeline of how both the Copyright Office and Copyright Law evolved. 

  • 1790: The first Copyright Act is passed and provides American creators with the ability to control when to print, reprint, or publish their work for up to 14 years, with the ability to renew for another 14 years. This was done to encourage creators to continue to add to society while giving them an incentive to do so. 
  • 1831: This was the first review of the Copyright Act. This revision allowed the protection of copyright to be extended to 28 years with the possibility to renew for another 14 years. This change was made to ensure American creators had the same, if not similar, protections as their European counterparts. 
  • 1870: This was the first revision of the Copyright Act. When the Copyright Office was first created it was up to each individual District Court to file copyright claims. However, with this revision, the office was moved from the District Courts into the Copyright Office, where it would remain. 
  • 1909: After another major review of the Copyright Act, the items that could be protected by copyright were increased to include more categories. This review also extended the renewal from 14 years to 28 years. During this time, many congressional members were trying to find a balance between allowing the creator to enjoy the benefits of their creation and also allowing the public to enjoy these creations. 
  • 1976:  After 67 years of no revisions to the Copyright Act, it was necessary to incorporate technological advancements, as well as to prepare to join the Berne Convention which was joined by our European counterparts in 1886. Also during this revision, copyright protection was extended to the life of the author plus 50 or 75 years if the work was done for hire and/or for unpublished works. 
  • 1992: An amendment was made to make copyright renewal automatic, and therefore really limited what items were joining the public domain. 
  • 1998: Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act extended protection from 50 years after the life of the creator to 70 years after the life of the creator. 
  • 1998: Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) brought some aspects of copyright law to the 90s that would address challenges many creators were facing, while attempting to regulate digital items. 
  • 1999: Digital Theft Deterrence and Copyright Damages Improvement: With infringement becoming so easy, it was necessary to find some way to deter this from happening. Congress approved a large increase in the minimum statutory damages. The minimums went from $500 to $700 and the maximums went from $20,000 to between $30,000 and $150,000 depending on intent. 
  • 2016: Small Claims bill is introduced by Representative Judy of Chu of California. Proposing an alternative method to pursuing infringement claims valued at less than $30,000. During this same year, Chairman Goodlatte circulated a white paper highlighting the importance of Small Clams and making it a priority for the upcoming year. 
  • 2017: Representative Goodlatte introduced H.R 1695 to turn the Register of Copyright into a Senate-confirmed, Presidential Appointee, therefore ensuring a person with ample copyright knowledge is able to run the copyright office, and have a certain degree of autonomy from the Library of Congress. This bill currently has been introduced in the Senate at S. 1010 and will be heading to committee shortly. 

As you can see, the history of copyright in the U.S. is a long and winding road. PPA is making sure YOUR rights are protected by being a constant presence on Capitol Hill during these exciting months. Be sure to sign up and show your support (and share with all your friends!) at PPA.com/Grassroots. 

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Last week was a pretty crazy one on Capitol Hill (as they mostly are lately) and, lost in the shuffle, was the fact that the companion bill to H.R. 1695, the bill PPA's Grassroots Team lobbied to get through the House, has now been introduced in the Senate! 


"Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) today introduced the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act, which makes the Register of Copyrights a presidentially-appointed, Senate-confirmed position. This legislation is the Senate companion to H.R. 1695, which passed the House of Representatives last week by an overwhelming vote of 378 to 48.  It is the product of bicameral, bipartisan discussions led by these Senators and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers.

The Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act makes important changes to the selection process for the head of the U.S. Copyright Office, known as the Register of Copyrights.  Specifically, the legislation requires the Register to be nominated by the President of the United States and subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate.  It would limit the Register to a ten-year term that is renewable by another presidential nomination and Senate confirmation. The legislation would establish a panel consisting of Members of Congress and the Librarian of Congress to recommend at least three individuals to the President for the position. It would require that the Register be capable of identifying and supervising a Chief Information Officer or similar official responsible for managing information technology systems. Finally, the legislation clarifies that the mandatory deposit requirements for collection at the Library of Congress will remain the same.

Grassley, Feinstein, Leahy and Hatch look forward to working with the Senate Rules Committee on legislation to improve the selection process for the position of Register, and they remain committed to further efforts towards modernization of the Copyright Office.

Bill text is available HERE."

PPA will keep you updated every step along the way, as the Bill now goes to one of several Senate Committees vying for the chance to spearhead the Senate's changes to the House version of the bill.

Stay tuned and ready to activate by signing up for PPA's Grassroots Action Team at PPA.com/Grassroots!

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by Sidra Safri 
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On April 26th the House of Representative passed H.R. 1695 with overwhelming bipartisan support. This is huge victory for not only the modernization of the Copyright Office (located within the Library of Congress, pictured here) but for photographers across this country. This would not be possible without the many letters photographers and creative artist sent, and the support of many Representatives, including Representative Chu (D-Ca), Representative Collins (R-GA), Chairman Goodlatte (R-VA), and Ranking Member Conyers (D-MI). 

It is important to remember, H.R 1695 getting passed the House of Representatives is only half the fight. The bill now heads to the Senate side, where it is going to be a much harder fight. The Senate will examine the bill in various committees and go through the bill with a fine tooth comb. It is also possible for the Senate to come up with its own version of H.R 1695, which will then have to head back to the House for a vote again. 

However the Senate decides to precede it is absolutely imperative to continue to send letters, but this time to our Senators. We need to make sure that the voices of photographers and other creative artists are heard as you demand for the Copyright Office to step into the 21st century.

Stay tuned for "Go" time in the Senate with those letters and calls. And be sure to sign everyone you know up at PPA.com/Grassroots

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Professional Photographers of America celebrated the passage of H.R. 1695 (the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act), marking the first important step in the association's goal to modernize the U.S. copyright system. 

H.R. 1695 makes the Register of Copyrights, who leads the United States Copyright Office (USCO), a presidentially-appointed, Senate-confirmed position. HR 1695 gives the Register the autonomy to modernize the Copyright Office to suit the specialized needs of the copyright system. PPA has been activating its 30,000-member base to call or email their representatives in support of the bill. 

"So much effort went into this," says PPA CEO David Trust, "and everyone who took 30 seconds to submit their letters should feel proud about what we accomplished together. So, today is a day for smiles and congratulations. Tomorrow we start preparing for a much tougher fight in the Senate."

Cindi Marifield, President R2P Strategies, representing PPA in D.C. says, "It is fitting that on World Intellectual Property Day, the House overwhelmingly passed H.R. 1695, the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act.   There are not many bills that pass with overwhelming bi-partisan support these days (378 to 48) and it is a tribute to Chairman Goodlatte, Ranking Member Conyers, Congressman Doug Collins and Congresswoman Judy Chu and their staff who worked deliberately and effectively to pass this legislation.  This bill is a great first step toward bolstering the Copyright Office and we look forward to both Chambers taking up and passing legislation to create a small claims process for individual creators as efforts to modernize the Copyright Office heat up." 



Wednesday, April 26th

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HR 1695 has passed through the House with overwhelming support! The vote was 378-48 and Rep. Chu was able to put in an ammendment favoring the Small Claims process. 

A big thanks to everyone who took the time to call or write your representative. This was a major victory in our fight for better copyright protection. 

Stay tuned for updates...


9:00am

pictured: Karyn Temple Claggett, acting Register of Copyright

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Happy World IP Day!  We kicked things off this morning with a Facebook Live video explaining World IP Day and how it aims to thank creative artists, photographers, graphic designers and all other creators for everything they do and how colorful they make the world! 

PPA also wants to take a moment and thank all of our wonderful members for making the world so much more beautiful! Besides the excitement of World IP Day in D.C, we are even more excited about H.R 1695. We have been told that it is still scheduled to be debated and voted on later this afternoon. In the meantime, it is important to continue to send letters and make phone calls reminding our representatives how important this bill is to creative artists and photographers! This is the first step in modernizing the copyright office, and will set the stage for small claims in the future.

PPA will be alternating celebrating World IP Day at the Library of Congress and meeting with Senator Dick Durbin (R-IL), Frank Cullen of the US Chamber of Commerce, Senator Deb Fisher (R-NE) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). It is imperative that we begin meeting with the Senate side to continue to prep members for H.R 1695 and lay the foundation for Small Claims. 

We will keep you updated throughout the day and hopefully have some great news for you before we leave D.C!


Intellectual property fuels the innovation that improves lives around the world. That's worth celebrating. #WorldIPDay

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World IP Day is celebrated by: 

• ACT | The App Association
• Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers
• American Apparel & Footwear Association
• American Association of Independent Music
• American Beverage Association
• American Bridal and Prom Industry Association
• American Business Conference
• American Foundry Society
• American Intellectual Property Law Association
• American Society of Media Photographers
• Association of American Publishers
• Association of Public and Land-grant Universities
• Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM)
• Biotechnology Innovation Organization
• BSA | The Software Alliance
• C ropLife America
• Entertainment Software Association
• Fashion Accessories Shippers Association
• Game Manufacturers Association
• Gemini Shippers Association
• Global Automakers
• Global Brand Council
• INDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry
• Interactive Advertising Bureau
• International Chamber of Commerce Business Action
to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP)
• International Franchise Association
• International Intellectual Property Alliance
• International Trademark Association
• Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association
• National Association of Broadcasters
• National Association of Manufacturers
• National Black Chamber of Commerce
• National Music Publishers' Association
• National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce
• News Media Alliance
• Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America
• Professional Photographers of America
• Recording Industry Association of America
• SAFE Bio-Pharma Association
• Semiconductor Industry Association
• Software & Information Industry Association
• Telecommunications Industry Association
• The International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition
• The Latino Coalition
• Toy Industry Association
• United States Council for International Business
• United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

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by Sidra Safri

  • Tuesday, April 25, 5:00pm 

After attending the Senate Judiciary Committee, we visited Representative Schneider from Illinois. Representative Schneider has recently joined the House Judiciary Committee and has already co-sponsored H.R 1695. Representative Schneider and his staff have family and friends who are photographers and they understand the importance of photographers on society and their community. They also agree that H.R 1695 is a good start to the modernization of the Copyright Office and hope that we can continue in this direction. 

After talking about H.R 1695 we also took a moment to talk about Small Claims and how we hope that this is the next thing the House Judiciary brings up. They seemed thoroughly interested, and have asked us to keep them updated as time goes on. 

After Representative Schneider, we met with Representative Jayapal of Washington. This was one of our first meetings with this office. We took the opportunity to introduce PPA and everything our members do. As we got into the details of Small Claims it seemed like Representative Jayapal's office understood the need for this protection for photographers. After talking about Small Claims, we were able to talk about H.R 1695. We are so thankful that Representative Jayapal is supporting H.R 1695. We hope to come back to visit Representative Jayapal and continue to talk about Small Claims. 
 
We are on our way to meet with Senate Rules Committee. Stay tuned for more updates!

9:00am 

Good morning!

PPA is on its way to Washington D.C. again for another exciting trip! We think this will be one of our more exciting ones for two big reasons:

  • As you have been hearing through our Facebook Live videos, H.R. 1695 is projected to go for a vote tomorrow! Remember, H.R. 1695 moves to make the Register of Copyright a presidential appointee and therefore takes the first steps in modernizing the copyright office. With this being such a bipartisan bill, and with over 2800 letters sent, we hope this will get passed. However, continue to send letters and share with your friends and family. We need to make sure your voice is heard!
  • Tomorrow is also World IP Day! This is a day to honor creators, artists, photographers, etc. to thank them and highlight all their contributions to society. Both the house and senate are having special hearings and events to honor creators. 
As soon as we land, we are going to rush over to the senate and attend the IP hearing. This hearing is to discuss what can be done to continue encouraging creators to add to our world.

After the hearing we will be attending meetings with Representatives Brad Schneider (D-IL), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and David Adkins (R-NM) of the Senate Rules Committee.

Stay tuned for more updates and watch out for our live updates on Facebook live!

by Sidra Safri
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As you already know, PPA is making big push this week to get H.R. 1695 passed. The passage of H.R. 1695 would make the Register of Copyright a Presidential Appointment that would be vetted by the Senate both before and after being chosen. However, as with anything in D.C and on Capitol Hill, is it is always important to consider what would happen if H.R. 1695 does not pass.

If H.R. 1695 is unable to get the votes it needs tomorrow, the Register of Copyright would continue to answer to the Librarian of Congress. The Librarian of Congress and the Register of Copyrights have inherently opposing jobs. The Librarian is responsible for capturing a screen shot of society and being able to share it with everyone. On the other hand, the Register is responsible for making sure creators are being given their credit and compensation, which limits free-and-wide usage.  

The biggest setback if H.R. 1695 does not pass would be the difficulty modernization and Small Claims legislation would face. These goals would be significantly harder to achieve. Even if the Copyright Office is given a face-lift and is brought into the 21st century, able to hear disputes regarding copyright infringements, it would still answer to the Register of Copyright. Basically, all the "modernization" would be made for nothing. The librarian would still control what and how the register operates. This would be a huge setback considering that the Librarian does not have the same in-depth knowledge of copyright issues as the Register.

Not passing H.R. 1695 would make any and all work being put into the copyright office a waste. The good news is that PPA does believe that H.R. 1695 will pass. There is bi-partisan support for this bill and constant agreement that something needs to be done about the Copyright Office. Between the ancient workings of the Copyright Office and the abrupt removal of the Register in October of 2016, this is the momentum creative artists and photographers needs to get the House to pass H.R. 1695. 

Be sure to email and call your representative now! 



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