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PPA is back on Capitol Hill this week, and we have some updates on the progress of copyright small claims legislation.

Currently, there are two copyright small claims bills being worked on by members of the U.S. House of Representatives - one bill is being produced by Congresswoman Chu (D-CA) and the other by Congressman Jeffries (D-NY).  Due to recent world events, other issues have been at the forefront of Capitol Hill discussions over the past several weeks.  Consequently, the introduction of Congresswoman Chu's (D-CA) small claims legislation has been delayed, but only slightly. This slight delay is not all bad news - the more issues that can be worked out among stakeholders on the front-end, the more likely the legislation will be successful.  

We are pleased to announce that Congressman Jeffries (D-NY) and Congressman Marino (R-PA) introduced a bipartisan small claims bill today. Congresswoman Chu's bill will be introduced when Congress reconvenes after its upcoming six-week recess. The House of Representatives will be on recess from July 15th until September 6th.  PPA continues to give input as this process unfolds, and we continue to work especially closely alongside Congresswoman Chu's office as they finalize legislative language.

After both bills are introduced, PPA will review the legislation and direct members of the Grassroots Action Team to take action. Your first call to action will be to ask your representative to co-sponsor the small claims bill that we believe is most favorable for professional photographers.  This call to action will most likely begin in September.

Let's take advantage of this unexpected little bit of extra time and focus on getting more photographers and visual artists to join the Grassroots Action Team!  We are encouraged by the number of participants so far, but we still have a long way to go.  We need to be prepared to make a very loud statement on Capitol Hill.  Additional delays are always possible - especially during an election year - but that shouldn't stop us from mobilizing now.  Please continue to encourage every photographer, as well as other creators that you know to sign up at PPA.com/Grassroots.  Remember, you do not have to be a PPA member to join - this needs to be an industry-wide effort.

PPA's government affairs team will be attending important, small claims-related meetings on the Hill this week.  Be sure to stay tuned to PPA Today for updates from D.C.! 

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We had a wonderful meeting with the Register of Copyrights, Maria Pallante, and the Copyright Office's Director of Policy, Karyn Claggett. We thanked the Register for her tireless support for small creators in creating her plans for a modernized copyright office and testifying to Congress as an expert in the policy area. This meeting provided a great opportunity for us to explain the registration-related difficulties photographers face and how that effects their ability to enforce copyright. We were extremely encouraged by listening to some aspects of her vision for registration reforms which include creating a process that is not one-size-fits-all for all classes of creations. In the coming months, we will be working closely with the Office by giving input on much-needed registration improvements. The Copyright Office (at the request of Congress) has produced and published an extensive plan for modernizing their systems and processes. This plan is dependent on the policy and appropriation decisions of Congress, so PPA plans to continue to be involved in the discussion on the Hill.

We also met with a representative of the American Bar Association to discuss the progress of small claims legislation. The ABA has generally been supportive of the ideas. We will continue to be in contact as the copyright review process evolves.

Headed back to Atlanta!


1:30pm: We are pleased to announce that Congressman Jeffries (D-NY) and Congressman Marino (R-PA) introduced a bipartisan small claims bill today. We appreciate Congressman Jeffries' and Congressman Marino's support on this important small business issue. We look forward to reviewing this bill and Congresswoman Chu's bill and working with these offices and others as well as important stakeholders to make copyright small claims a reality. 


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10:00am: We are at the US Chamber of Commerce for our first meeting of the day. Here we will pitch the idea of copyright small claims to the chamber, explaining why it is such an important small business issue. We hope to have their support on this issue as the process unfolds.



4:30pm: We're walking from our meeting with Zach Whiting in the office of Congressman Steve King (R-IA) to the office of Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) for our next meeting. Our meeting with Zach was great. He seemed very interested in our message and asked great questions about how to create an effective small claims process for small-business creators. We brought him up to speed on the forthcoming bills. He is looking forward to reviewing the legislation. Hopefully, the Congressman will choose to get involved with this issue as the copyright review enters the legislative phase. 
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3:30pm: Good meeting with Congressman Cohen's(D-TN) staff. We brought them up to speed on the progress of small claims legislation. They were very receptive of our message and plan to connect with the offices sponsoring these bills and review the language. We are asking all of these offices to consider co-sponsoring small claims legislation upon introduction.

We have are headed into our last two (back-to-back) meetings with Congressman Steve King's (R-IA) office and Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren's (D-CA) office. 


2:45pm: As always, we had a very productive meeting with Linda Shim, Congresswoman Chu's (D-CA) Chief of Staff. We are working through final details of the bills. At this point, we are facilitating discussions on smaller, technical details between congressional offices and stakeholders. Linda is working closely with the copyright office and counsel to finalize legislative language. We expect that Congresswoman Chu's bill will be introduced in early September when Congress reconvenes from the upcoming recess (which starts this weekend).

10:15am: 
PPA is back in our nation's capital for the last week of the House's current session before their recess. There is a LOT happening with our top priority: a Small Claims Copyright bill. We hope the bill is introduced this week (rather than being held until the next session in September). Stay tuned here as we will update the blog throughout today and tomorrow with all the latest news on this front. 







by Lindsey Forson

As PPA kicks off Day Two in our nation's capital, we wanted to remind you about THIS FRIDAY (tomorrow) and the free, online event you can take part in: Every Voice Counts - PPA's Grassroots Plan for Small Claims. This informative session is the perfect way to jump on board with us and brush up on what small claims protection is, why we need your help, and what YOU can do to help change policy. Sign up now

Now, for the updates:

4:45pm
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We had another positive meeting with Casey Fitzpatrick, counsel to Congresswoman Mimi Walters (R-CA) from the judiciary committee. Casey's interest in the issue was apparent as he asked detailed questions and gave input regarding how to make the small claims process as successful as possible. Congresswoman Walters has many PPA members in her district, and we hope she will be positively engaged on the issue as legislation is introduced and discussed. We will certainly stay in touch with this office.

That about does it for our D.C. trip this week. Remember, we have reached a critical point in the process where we need YOU to get involved. And not only you. We need you to tell your friends to get involved. And they need to tell their friends. And so on. If you have not already, please sign up now for the Small Claims Grassroots Action Team at PPA.com/Grassroots



2:55pm
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We just had a brief meeting with Bobby Cornett with the office of Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ). Congressman Franks also came in and spoke with us briefly about his strong support for copyright protection. We brought Bobby up to speed on upcoming legislation. He is looking forward to reviewing finalized legislation. We will remain in contact with this office as the process unfolds.


12:05pm
Excellent meeting with Lauren Soltini. The office of Congresswoman DelBene has been supportive of the idea of copyright small claims for quite some time. Lauren was excited to hear that legislation is in the works. She is confident that the Congresswoman will be eager to support small claims legislation when introduced.

We are headed to a lunch meeting with Keith Kupferschmid, CEO of the Copyright Alliance, to discuss the legislative process for small claims, strategy, and how the Alliance can continue to be supportive and involved.



10:55am
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We had a great meeting with Jeff Wieland in the office of Congressman Marino this morning. Congressman Marino is one of the key republicans on the judiciary committee when it comes to championing IP rights and protection. It is very important that he is on board with copyright small claims. And fortunately, the office has been very receptive to the idea.

We brought Jeff up to speed on the progress unfolding related to small claims legislation. We hope that Congressman Marino will choose to sign on to a small claims bill as a co-sponsor once the legislation is finalized (which will happen within the next week or two).

Our next meeting is with Lauren Soltini in the Office of Congresswoman DelBene (D-WA). Congresswoman DelBene had a strong voice on the committee and within her party related to property rights, including intellectual property. We will report back soon!



9:00am
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Late yesterday, PPA's Advocacy Team met with Linda Shim, the chief of staff to Congresswoman Chu (D- CA), who is personally drafting copyright small claims legislation. Congresswoman Chu is planning to distribute a discussion draft of her bill to stakeholders next week, and will formally introduce the legislation before the upcoming July recess.  

Congresswoman Chu and Linda Shim have worked so closely with PPA and other visual arts associations along the way to ensure that the proposed legislation will create an effective process for visual artists. The legislative process has not been, and will not be, without complications because of all of the stakeholders, lawmakers, and government officials involved, but Congresswoman Chu is such a strong champion to be leading the charge for small creators' rights. We are very fortunate to have her 100% on board!

We talked through some very specific details of the legislation regarding how exactly the small claims process will be administered. There will likely be some changes made to the legislation once the office of Congresswoman Chu consults with her republican counterpart on the bill (once confirmed) and considers input from other stakeholders. Please stayed tuned for when the bill is introduced, at which time we will share the full text and work to educate the Grassroots Action Team on its details. Linda was extremely excited to hear about PPA's Grassroots Action Plan. She reconfirmed that strong grassroots support is exactly what sets up a bill for success - so please get involved; every voice counts!

Our first meeting today is with Jeff Wieland in the office of Congressman Marino (R-PA). Congressman Marino is a known supporter of intellectual property rights and has a strong voice on the judiciary committee. He previously introduced a Copyright Office Modernization bill, which PPA supports, alongside Congresswoman Chu. We hope to secure his support for copyright small claims during this meeting.

Stay tuned for more updates from the Hill! If you have not already, be sure to visit PPA.com/Grassroots to join our Copyright Small Claims Grassroots Action Team!

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Lindsey Forson is PPA's Manager of Government Affairs. She works alongside our CEO to fight for the rights of professional photographers on Capitol Hill and to keep PPA members informed on the issues that affect your businesses. Lindsey helps PPA advocate for stronger copyright protection, improved drone regulations, and other small-business issues affecting the industry. When not on Capitol Hill or at PPA headquarters, you can typically find Lindsey on a soccer field, at an Atlanta restaurant or market, or cheering on the Auburn Tigers!
by Lindsey Forson

4:15pm
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(pic to the right: the view from Congressman Nadler's office)

We had a very productive meeting with Lisette Morton and David Greengrass who are counsel to the IP Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee. All of the committee counsel will play an important role as legislation progresses, so it is important that we keep them in the loop. Since the Judiciary Committee has undergone a comprehensive review of copyright law and processes over the past several years, any copyright legislation that is introduced will be part of a larger process and discussion about copyright reform.

During this meeting, we updated David and Lisette on the recent progress toward small claims legislation and made our case to them as to why this issue is of extreme importance to small-business creators across the country and should be treated with individual attention. They were very responsive and helped us think through some important points. We got to have a quick conversation with the congressman on the way out.

Our next meeting is with the Linda Shim, the Chief of Staff to Congresswoman Chu, who is currently finalizing copyright small claims legislation for introduction. This will likely be a longer and more involved meeting, so we will send out an update in the morning before tomorrow's meetings.



2:30pm
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We have just wrapped up our first meeting of the day with Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX; Chairman of the Science Committee and Judiciary Committee member) and his counsel, Curtis Philp. PPA has an interesting connection with Congressman Smith in this fight for copyright small claims. Congressman Smith was the Chairman of the Intellectual Property Subcommittee (of the Judiciary) in 2006 when PPA CEO, David Trust, first testified on copyright small claims during a subcommittee hearing. For more than a decade, Congressman Smith has been intrigued by the same idea PPA had been lobbying for - the creation of a small claims enforcement option as a way to repair the current inequities of the copyright system which negatively impact small business owners. Congressman Smith is eager to be an ally to small-business creators throughout the process of working to make copyright small claims a reality. We are grateful for his support, and look forward to working with his office as the legislative process progresses. 

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We are now headed into a meeting with the office of Congressman Nadler (Ranking Member of the IP Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee).









9:05 am: 
PPA is back on Capitol Hill this week working on copyright small claims legislation.  
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We will be working with drafters of the legislation to discuss specific details and ensure that forthcoming copyright small claims legislation is as favorable as possible for professional photographers.  
We will be seeking original co-sponsors for copyright small claims legislation.  
We will also be meeting with key staffers of the House Judiciary Committee to discuss the legislative process and how we can best set up a copyright small claims bill for success.  

PPA's advocacy team is currently in Washington, D.C. doing our part to make copyright small claims a reality, but we have reached a critical point in the process where we need you to get involved. If you have not already, please sign up now for the Small Claims Grassroots Action Team at PPA.com/Grassroots. And stay tuned to PPA Today for updates from the Hill!

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Lindsey Forson is PPA's Manager of Government Affairs. She works alongside our CEO to fight for the rights of professional photographers on Capitol Hill and to keep PPA members informed on the issues that affect your businesses. Lindsey helps PPA advocate for stronger copyright protection, improved drone regulations, and other small-business issues affecting the industry. When not on Capitol Hill or at PPA headquarters, you can typically find Lindsey on a soccer field, at an Atlanta restaurant or market, or cheering on the Auburn Tigers!
By Autumn Rice
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The House Judiciary Committee is hard at work on small claims copyright legislation. In the meantime, it's important we all learn about this important issue, the process, and the possible result. In order to gain support for the small claims copyright legislation, PPA is holding an information session about the bill. 

Please register to attend for free: Every Voice Counts - PPA's Grassroots Plan for Copyright Small Claims on Jun 17, 2016 2:00 PM EDT at: 

This is important! It will help you better understand your role in PPA's Copyright Grassroots Action Plan. We will walk you through a quick and simple way to contact your congressional representatives at the right times. This presentation will explain in further detail the first call to action for the Grassroots Action Team - soliciting co-sponsors for the copyright small claims legislation! 

Don't miss out on this opportunity to learn how you can be a part of this historic change.
This online event is open to all, so please register and spread the word!

You can also support by joining the Copyright Grassroots Action Team. It only takes a few seconds to sign up! By joining the Team, you will receive news on the latest from Capitol Hill and alerts when it's time to contact your congressmen.

Until Friday... Please share!

by Amanda Arnold
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What? You thought copyright law protects you?

Not so much. Copyright law is great for the big creators--the motion pictures companies, rock stars--but it does precious little for high-volume creators like professional photographers, for whom each piece of work has a relatively low monetary value. Here's why: In order to battle an infringer, you have to take your case to federal court. Federal court is expensive--like $345,000 expensive for the average copyright case cost. In fact, you'd have a hard time getting an attorney to touch a copyright infringement case unless damages are likely to exceed $30,000 ... at a minimum.

The average copyright infringement against a photographer is valued at less than $3,000. That's a lot of money for a photographer, who on average makes $35,000 a year. And yet it's not near enough to take down an infringer.

Sound unfair? And illogical? It is. That's why the nation's largest nonprofit association of working photographers is bucking for change. And the time to act is now.

For more than 20 years, Professional Photographers of America has been active in getting copyright law reformed. One of PPA's priorities is seeing the creation of a small claims process for copyright so photographers can go after infringers. And finally--just this month--lawmakers are drafting legislation to put this copyright small claims process in place.

Exciting news? Yes! End of the journey? No! The bill won't make it from draft to legislation without co-sponsors--lots of them. And it won't get co-sponsors without the voices of tens of thousands--yes, tens of thousands--of photographers and other visual arts creators pleading for them to act ASAP. So here's what we need you to do:

Go to PPA.com/Grassroots right now and sign up to receive updates on the bill. At some point in the near future you will receive a notification to begin contacting your local and state representatives about the bill. Don't worry--the Grassroots Action Team website will make this process very easy. You'll simply plug in your ZIP code to find the appropriate lawmakers in your area to contact, and then you'll shoot off an email directly from the website. Or make a few phone calls. Simple and effective.

Share PPA's "Understanding Small Claims" video. Not just once, not twice--up to 10 times on your social media feeds. Remember, tens of thousands of photographers' voices are needed in this initiatve, so this video needs to go viral to make that impact.  

Tune in to PPA's upcoming webinars on copyright. These webinars will get you up to speed on copyright reform and explain what actions you need to take to mobilize in support of a small claims process. Visit ppa.com/advocacy for an updated list of webinar topics and times. 
This could be the most significant copyright change in your lifetime. Be a part of it!


Amanda Arnold is the associate editor of Professional Photographer.
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We are very excited to report that members of the House Judiciary Committee are currently working to create legislation which would achieve PPA's top advocacy goal: the creation of a copyright small claims process. 

As a PPA member, help us to advocate for this new legislation on a grassroots level when a bill is introduced. This could take place in the next few weeks! Please join us for an introductory webinar to learn more about how YOU can be involved and help advance copyright for photographers. As PPA mobilizes its efforts on top legislative priorities, YOU CAN HELP! There are 2 sessions to choose from (same content, just different times):

In addition to the webinar, we encourage you to read more about the issue here and sign up to be a part of our Grassroots Action Team, where you'll be given instructions on what to do next (calling your representative, emailing your senator, etc.) As a professional photographer, you have copyright protection but not an effective means of enforcing your rights. This is because the current system practically excludes the vast majority of creators by not offering an adequate enforcement option for small-business copyright holders. PPA has been advocating for the creation of a copyright small claims process for the past ten years! This issue is vital to every professional photographer throughout America--do not miss out on this opportunity to be part of these positive changes!

Mark your calendar and sign up for one of these webinars: Wednesday, or Thursday. See you then!

By Lindsey Forsonimage1DC.JPG

Yesterday we met with a few key copyright representatives, who are part of PPA's on-going efforts to make a difference in Copyright regulations: Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA) and her chief of staff Linda Shim (pictured on right), Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and his IP counsel, Elaine Gin, Curtis Philp in the Office of Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX), and Joe Keeley and Jason Everett, the Chief majority and minority IP counsels to the Judiciary committee. Here is a short recap:

As always, the meeting with Congresswoman Chu was excellent, as she and her office continue to work hard on copyright small claims legislation. We are very thankful to this office for their continued strong partnership with PPA and the visual arts community.

We also had a very good meeting with Congressman Jeffries. His office is also working on small claims legislation! We are very appreciative of the Congressman's efforts and continued advocacy for improved Intellectual Property (IP) protection.

Our meeting with Curtis Philp was also very encouraging. Congressman Smith was one of the earliest supporters of the idea of copyright small claims. We know that his office will continue to be supportive of IP protection issues and we will remain in contact with them moving forward in order to further advance copyright protection for photographers.

Our meetings with Joe Keeley and Jason Everett were extremely informative. They shared with us ideas for setting up small claims legislation for success and even suggested some specific stakeholders we should meet with to garner support for the issue (which of course we will!). We discussed the entire copyright review process with them and what to expect as it moves into the legislative stages.

We are very excited to finally be able to report that copyright small claims legislation is in its beginning stages. The process will not be short, and certainly will not be without complications. Since it is an election year, we do not expect the process to be completed in 2016, but we do expect to see legislation introduced to committee as early as next month.

PPA will continue to lead this initiative and be the prominent voice as this process unfolds to ensure that we have a bill that is as strong and favorable as possible for the photographic industry and that this bill has wide support among stakeholders and lawmakers. We will soon mobilize grassroots efforts to advocate for small claims legislation.

Stay tuned to PPA.com/Advocacy to be sure your voice is heard when the time comes (soon)!

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Lindsey Forson is PPA's Manager of Government Affairs. She works alongside our CEO to fight for the rights of professional photographers on Capitol Hill and to keep PPA members informed on the issues that affect your businesses. Lindsey helps PPA advocate for stronger copyright protection, improved drone regulations, and other small-business issues affecting the industry. When not on Capitol Hill or at PPA headquarters, you can typically find Lindsey on a soccer field, at an Atlanta restaurant or market, or cheering on the Auburn Tigers!

By Lindsey Forson

PPA is back on Capitol Hill this week seeking sponsors for a copyright small claims bill! Here's how it's progressed so far on the first day - 

We met with Amy Bos in the office of Congressman Sensenbrenner. The Congressman is on the House Judiciary Committee and is known for his strong support of small business issues. He is also very strong on IP protection issues. These traits make Congressman Sensenbrenner an ideal advocate for small claims legislation. This is our third meeting with the office just this year, and they continue to be extremely receptive to our message. We will definitely continue to follow-up with Congressman Sensenbrenner's office as we see progress toward a small claims bill. 

Our next meeting is with Congresswoman Judy Chu and her Chief of Staff Linda Shim. Congresswoman Chu repeatedly proves herself to be one of the strongest advocates for small creators on the committee. She has certainly emerged as a leader on this issue. We will thank the Congresswoman for her continued support for small claims on all of our priority issues. (She previously introduced a bill to the committee on Copyright Office Modernization.) During this meeting we will also discuss more specific strategy for achieving the creation of a small claims process. 

We'll keep you updated as the trip progresses. Stay tuned on PPA Today for more updates!

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Lindsey Forson is PPA's Manager of Government Affairs. She works alongside our CEO to fight for the rights of professional photographers on Capitol Hill and to keep PPA members informed on the issues that affect your businesses. Lindsey helps PPA advocate for stronger copyright protection, improved drone regulations, and other small-business issues affecting the industry. When not on Capitol Hill or at PPA headquarters, you can typically find Lindsey on a soccer field, at an Atlanta restaurant or market, or cheering on the Auburn Tigers!

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