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PPA Today: Copyright: November 2017 Archives

Copyright: November 2017 Archives

When you put your blood, sweat and tears into creating a masterpiece that showcases your uniqueness, the last thing you want is your work being improperly used or even stolen, especially if your art is your means of livelihood.  Unfortunately, many professional photographers of all backgrounds and fields deal with copyright infringement every day.

Granted, those who have high enough incomes predominantly benefit from today's current laws, but the same can't be said for the average professional; like Rob. Check out Rob's story on his battle for the rights to his own image:

Rob is a freelance professional photographer in San Francisco who was hired by an online

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 visitors' magazine to shoot a still life to illustrate an article on local bars and pubs. A competing website lifted Rob's photograph to promote their magazine without permission or compensation. Rob's client was upset that the image they had commissioned was used by their competitor and accused Rob of selling his image to the competition without authorization. Though Rob tried to explain that the image was stolen, his client, nevertheless, stopped working with Rob out of concern that he was untrustworthy.

Rob attempted numerous times to contact the infringing party by phone in order to be paid for the unauthorized usage and to demand that the infringing company remove the image from their website. He eventually sent the infringing company an invoice for the usage along with a demand letter telling the company to take the image down.

After several months, Rob was successful in reaching someone from the infringing company by phone, who subsequently refused to acknowledge their infringement-insisting that they hadn't infringed because they had simply lifted the image from Google Images. The infringing company refused to pay for the unauthorized usage and did not return Rob's subsequent calls. They did eventually remove the image from their website, however, due to this infringement; Rob was never hired by his client again.

Rob considered suing the infringer in Federal Court (his only recourse) but concluded it was too expensive to do so. He feels that if there was a Small Claims option available, he would have been able to not only enforce his copyright, but it would have also been useful in retaining his long-standing client.

This story and many others are the reason that a Small Claims process can be a game-changer for photographers and creative artists. It will help them enforce their copyright in cost-effective and efficient ways. We need everyone to support Small Claims at PPA.com/SmallClaims! Stay up-to-date on copyright and the fight for artists' rights at PPA.com/Copyright.


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By David Eun

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Arguably a creative mind's biggest headache - copyright infringement - affects professional photographers of all backgrounds and fields. From the head of a prominent studio to the small-business owner around the corner, having your work stolen or improperly used constantly remains a thought in the back of their minds.

Those fortunate enough to have high incomes predominantly benefit from today's current laws, but the same can't be said for the average professional. Check out Angela's story on her struggle to protect the rights to her watercolor illustrations:

Angela is an illustrator based in Atlanta, Georgia. She works in watercolor, ink and colored pencil. She published her illustrations and paintings in an instructional book, "Angelic Visions" [North Light Books, © 2011], available on Amazon.com and in bookstores.

Her registered illustrations in Angelic Visions were recreated and reproduced as prints and other decorative pieces without permission by another artist. The reproductions have been sold on the infringer's website and direct sales to the public as a vendor (authorized by event management and paid for a vendor's booth) at Renaissance Fairs throughout Texas. This infringer has also copied other artists' works and sold unauthorized reproductions.

Angela contacted the infringer directly and told her to stop selling her copyrighted work. The infringer agreed and removed the work from her website, but covertly continued to sell the unauthorized work in person at the fairs. The artist contacted her publisher, who told Angela they would send a cease & desist notice to the infringer but they would not be able to help with any further litigation, which Angela wanted to pursue. The publisher told Angela they would not sue the infringer, nor would they participate in her legal action if she filed suit, as this was beyond their capabilities.

If Angela would have been able to seek legal recourse against the infringer, she would have demanded take-down of the unauthorized images from the infringer's website, as well as an order to cease selling unauthorized prints of her work and to destroy all unauthorized prints the infringer currently has on hand. Angela would have asked for actual damages including a licensing fee for items already sold and profits from sales made, totaling $30,000 or more.

"I paid to copyright my work, and it feels pointless," Angela said. "I don't want to pay into our copyright system if it won't protect me. What's the point?"

This story and many other are the reason that a Small Claims process can be a game-changer for photographers and creative artists. It will help them enforce their copyright in cost-effective and efficient ways. We need everyone to support Small Claims at PPA.com/SmallClaims! Stay up-to-date on copyright and the fight for artists' rights at PPA.com/Copyright.

By Sidra Safri

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Day 2 has resulted in some very insightful meetings! The Small Claims panel was a hit, and it did a great job of answering questions that many staffers had. It was also great to have someone from the Copyright Office not only sitting on the panel but also in attendance of the event. We hope this panel will encourage Representatives who are not a familiar with the Small Claims bill to do research and increase the amount of co-sponsors.

After the briefing, we headed over to the Copyright Alliance meeting in Downtown D.C. The Copyright Alliance is an association that consists of various stakeholders in the copyright world. Its members include CBS, NBA, Disney, and more. This meeting is a great opportunity to touch base with the copyright world and see where everyone stands. As always, the Small Claims bill was on the agenda and was discussed at length as to what can be done to ensure the bill passes. We were very happy to see that many facets of the copyright world are dedicated to making Copyright Small Claims a success.

We are heading back to PPA Headquarters in Atlanta, but don't forget to keep sending those letters and calling your representatives! The more often they hear from YOU, the more attention Copyright Small Claims will get! PPA.com/SmallClaims


12:32 pm
Day 2 in DC is off to a great start! We started our morning meeting with Representative Farenthold's office of Texas. This was one of our first meetings with this office and wanted to take the time to share an updated status of the bill. We had some great feedback and were happy to know that the staff consists of people who have worked with the Copyright office. The office was happy that we met with them and brought them up to speed. We are hoping as time goes on we will have this office sign on as a co-sponsor. 

After meeting with Representative Farenthold's office, we stayed in Texas and met with Representative Ratcliffe. Since the staff has recently been changed, we provided a general back ground in why small claims is so important. This office was very open to the struggle that many photographers face and has assured us that they will look into the small claims bill. We will stay in touch with this office to keep them up-to-date. 

After both of these meetings with Texas representatives, we were told that it is absolutely important to continue to send letters and make phone calls. The more contact that is made with the office, the more likely the Representative is to support small claims. 

We are now off to a briefing being held on Capitol Hill about H.R. 3945 and why this is so important. Our allies from the Copyright Alliance Keith Kupferschmid and  Tom Kennedy of ASMP are on the panel. This will be a great opportunity for many staffers to hear about small claims, and hopefully convince them to support this bill. 

We have two more meetings after the briefing. Stayed tuned and remember to send your letters and make your phone calls! PPA.com/SmallClaims.

By Sidra Safri

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4:00 pm 
We just finished up our first day of meetings and we're off to a great start! We started our day with Rep. Richmond of Louisiana. During this meeting, we took the time to update the office about small claims, and provide a summary of what the small-claims bill entails. They showed a great amount of interest and have asked for more information so that they can study the bill in more detail. They have also asked for an approximate number of photographers in Louisiana to fully understand the impact that the small-claims bill will have in their district. We will continue to work with Representative Richmond's office and hope that he will sign on as a co-sponsor soon. 

After meeting with Representative Richmond's office, we moved on to meet with Representative Lofgren's office of California.  We haven't met with this office in a long time and thought it would be a good time to touch base since we had the introduction of the bill. During this discussion, some great ideas and concerns came up, including the constitutionality of certain provisions. We were also happy to see that Representative Lofgren's office understands the need for a small-claims process and fully sees this as a possible remedy for photographers.  

After meeting with Lofgren's office, we went on to meet with Representative Bigg's office of Arizona. We met with this office after a long absence and wanted to take the opportunity to have them become more familiar with the small-claims bill. This was a great touch-point meeting, and we are planning on circling back to this office soon. 

We are done with our meetings for the day. We have plenty of great potential co-signers and hope that the interest in the small-claims bill continues to grow. In the meantime, do not forget to contact your representative and urge them to support small claims!


10:00 am: 
PPA is off to D.C once again to continue to fight for your copyrights! As many of you remember, we are in the middle of urging representatives to co-sponsor H.R. 3945 (CASE ACT).

We are going to start the day off meeting with Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California. This is one of the first times we will be meeting with her office in regards to the Small-Claims bill. We are aware that Rep. Lofgren has her hesitations about H.R. 3945 and we are hoping to meet with her and ease some of her concerns and answer many of her questions.

After meeting with Representative Lofgren we are heading to Rep. Richmond of Louisiana. We have met with Rep. Richmond before but had not had a chance to touch base with him since the introduction of H.R 3945. We hope to bring him up to speed on the status of the bill and answer any questions that he may have.

After meeting the Representative from Louisiana, we will go on to meet with Rep. Biggs of Arizona. We met with the Representative's office earlier this year and they ask that we keep them up to date on the Small-Claims bill. Since the bill was introduced last month we thought it would be a good time to swing by again to fill them in on Small Claims and urge them to sign on a co-sponsor. 

We have a flight to catch, but stay tuned for more updates! And, as always, don't forget to contact your representative at ppa.com/smallclaims. You can send as many letters or make as many calls as you want!

See Day 2 updates here.
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It's Copyright GO TIME! With HB 3945 currently being worked on in the U.S. House of Representatives, we're farther along than ever in our mission to (finally) bring small-claims copyright protection to photographers like you. In order to join this fight for artists' rights, you need to Be More Informed and PPA will help with that!

Not sure what copyright benefits come with your PPA membership? Not sure if you are doing everything you can to protect your images from infringement? And what is the deal with Copyright Small Claims? Great news! All these questions and plenty more will be answered during tomorrow's informational copyright webinar.

This webinar is FREE and open to all TOMORROW ONLY, so register now and tune in, November 14, 2017, at 3:00 pm ET. 

Oh, and if you're a member of PPA you'll be able to replay this and any PPA webinar at your leisure and however many times you wish (videos uploaded about two weeks after original webinar date)! Block your calendar and join the fight for artists' rights! 

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The copyright system in the United States, while not perfect, has worked well for many creators in the higher-income industries. The harsh reality is, however, that copyright in America does not work at all for small-business creators. The vast majority of creators have very little protection under the law because, without a massive income or corporate support, they have no real option for enforcement - and what good are rights when you can't actually enforce them?

Andrew is the perfect example of the small-business creator. He provides for his family by operating a small photography business through which he provides families in his community a product that will be cherished for generations to come. Andrew photographed an event for a local restaurateur and licensed images to the restaurant for specific marketing purposes. 

The restaurant's PR firm distributed one of Andrew's images to a culinary magazine. The magazine then used the photo as the cover image of a monthly issue without Andrew's permission and without mention of either Andrew or his client. Andrew contacted the publisher and sent an invoice for an appropriate licensing fee. He was ignored. Andrew then had a cease and desist letter sent to the publisher on his behalf from his photographic association. Still, he received no response. 

Andrew is now facing an impossible decision. He can hire an attorney and pursue this further, or choose to let it go altogether. Due to principle, Andrew does not want to let it go, but at this point, he's afraid he would actually have to sue the infringer to get any response or payment. Andrew estimates the value of this infringement at $2,500 which he feels is far too low to justify a lawsuit in federal court. 

"It's a shame they will probably just get away with this," Andrew said. "Not facing any consequences just reinforces the behavior." Andrew believes the lack of copyright enforcement options available to small creators like him is the reason businesses and publications choose to infringe rather than secure proper licensing. 

"Some sort of a small claims process is the only way creators like me will ever be able to get paid for infringing uses of their work," Andrew said.

That small-claims process is on its way! With the introduction of HR 3942, small-business creators have a chance to finally have their cases heard. Stay up-to-date on the fight for artists' rights at PPA.com/Copyright and JOIN THE FIGHT at PPA.com/SmallClaims!

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By David Eun

Arguably a creative mind's biggest headache - copyright infringement - affects professional photographers of all backgrounds and fields. From the head of a prominent studio to the small-business owner around the corner, having your work stolen or improperly used constantly remains a thought in the back of their minds.

Those fortunate enough to have high incomes predominantly benefit from today's current laws, but the same can't be said for the average professional. Check out Kathy's story on her struggle to protect the rights to her iconic image:

Kathy is a senior writer with the University of California, Davis, Department of Entomology and Nematology. She captured a rare close-up photo of a honeybee sting which showed the bee's abdominal tissue unraveling as it flew away from its own stinger. The photo titled "The Sting" won international awards and was named one of Huffington Post's Most Amazing Photos of 2012. Kathy posted the image to her website and blog with copyright attribution, and from that moment, completely lost control of the image.

"The Sting" has been used for advertising on pest control websites. It has been used on porn sites to draw in traffic. It is being sold widely across the Internet as canvas prints, as posters, on coffee cups, on cell phone covers, and on mouse pads, among various other infringing uses. And these are only the online infringements that Kathy has been able to locate.

Of course, Kathy's copyright information has been removed, blacked out, or replaced with false attribution each time.

Kathy estimates that she has lost tens of thousands of dollars, if not more, on the infringements of this image alone, and several of her other photos have been infringed widely as well. Kathy has gone through the DMCA takedown process hundreds of times, sometimes with success and other times to have the image reappear days later. Quite frankly, she cannot even keep up.

"I could spend all day, every day, working on this one case of photo thievery," Kathy said.

Kathy simply wants people to stop stealing her images and especially to stop using her work to make money. She is outraged by the rampant stealing of intellectual property with no fear of punishment that exists throughout the world. She has even received threatening and abusive messages from infringers, when she has reported infringements, who think they are entitled to the photo since they "found it" online. Kathy believes that we must do something that will make it so more copyright infringers actually face consequences in order to diminish the culture of online piracy.

Stay up-to-date on copyright and the fight for artists' rights at PPA.com/Copyright and JOIN THE FIGHT at ppa.com/SmallClaims!

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Copyright category from November 2017.

Copyright: October 2017 is the previous archive.

Copyright: December 2017 is the next archive.

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