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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 livelihood.  Unfortunately, many professional photographers of all backgrounds and fields deal with copyright infringement every day.

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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 Eric. Check out Eric's story on the battle for the rights to his own image:

Eric is an illustrator and cartoonist in San Diego, CA, and creates graphic novels. His graphic novels are registered and published in print. Eric discovered that someone had scanned his entire printed graphic novel, Age of Bronze: A Thousand Ships, and was offering it for free digital download on a website that had many infringed comics, web comics, and graphic novels.

Other rights-holders had sent DMCA takedown notices to the website, and the infringers had posted the DMCA takedown notices with snide and defiant comments such as "You can't do anything about it."

The legal recourse he would have sought, had he been able to sue the infringer, would have been to enforce the takedown from the infringer's website, destroy the unauthorized digital file, and collect actual damages including a licensing fee for usage and potential lost profits from the number of illegal downloads; largely dependent upon discovery of number of illegal downloads from the website.

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/HR3954!

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Your hard work is finally paying off. The Small Claims copyright legislation PPA has been fighting for on Capitol Hill is just around the corner. H.R. 3945 will finally protect photographers with a legal recourse in the case of theft of their images. It's bipartisan, uncontroversial, and moving forward right this minute. What's inside the Small Claims bill?

  • It establishes a copyright-specific tribunal to oversee the process
  • It introduces online claim-filing and resolution hearings via video conference, without the requirement of an attorney.
  • It accepts claims without prior registration with the U.S. Copyright Office
  • It keeps costs at a minimum
  • It keeps intact the option to pursue a copyright claim in Federal Court
  • It provides an effective infringement remedy for copyright compensation
As we all call on our representatives to co-sponsor the bill, you can rest easier knowing the gains made this month!  At the start of 2018:

  • There are two new Small Claims co-sponsors! This brings our total up to seven! Representative Nadler (D-NY), the ranking member of the Judiciary, has signed on. This is a big deal and thankfully Nadler has always been quick to stand up for creative artists! Also, Rep. Cicilline (D-RI) has joined. Elected in 2011, Rep. Cicilline is currently on the Judiciary Committee, so that is a huge plus since that is where our bill currently resides.  They join Reps. Tom Marino (R-PA), Doug Collins (R-GA), Lamar Smith (R-TX), Judy Chu (D-CA), and Ted Lieu (D-CA). Be sure to thank them all on social media! 
  • We have collected over 850 Small Claims postcards that we'll hand deliver to Congress. In fact, PPA CEO David Trust is delivering Georgia's postcards today. These postcards were filled out by the attendees of Imaging USA 2018. 
  • We have well over 150 video testimonials about why Small Claims matters so much. These videos were done onsite at Imaging USA 2018 by PPA and Social Box. These testimonials will also be shared with Congress.  Which brings us to...
  • Announcing the winners of the TRIP TO WASHINGTON D.C.! The following participants of the postcard and Social Box initiatives won a trip to come lobby with PPA on Capitol Hill! Congratulations to:
  1. Shaun Reilly
  2. James Clark
  3. Portia Shao
  4. Floyd Carroll
  5. Joshua Barry
We'll keep you posted as they travel to D.C. and help us fight for the Small-Claims Bill! 


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Eight visual arts trade organizations have joined in urging their members to register their photographs before changes to group registration by the U.S. Copyright Office take effect next month. 

Currently, photographers can register an unlimited number of images in a single registration application through the unpublished collection procedure or through the pilot program for registering groups of published photographs online. Starting February 20, 2018, there will be a limit of 750 images per registration, whether it is a group of published images or unpublished images. 

As the notice explains, "Currently applicants may submit an unlimited number of
photographs if they register their works as an unpublished collection, or if they
use the pilot program for published photographs." However, the pilot program for published photographs will end. Further, the Copyright Office will no longer grant registrations to photographers who attempt to register a group of unpublished photographs as an "unpublished collection". Paper registrations of groups of published and unpublished photos will also end. The existing rules will be replaced by the Group Registration of Published Photographs, as well as the Group Registration for Unpublished Photographs. Both will have a limit of 750 images per registration. The copyright office intends to issue tutorials for the new registration process.

The Copyright Office charges $55 for online registration. Because the registration will be limited to 750 images, photographers with a large number of images will pay more for multiple registrations rather than the one fee for an unlimited number of images. 

The 750-image limit was strongly opposed in a joint response to the Copyright Office by The American Photographic Artists (APA), American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), Digital Media Licensing Association (DMLA), Graphic Artists Guild (GAG), North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA), National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), Professional Photographers of America (PPA) and the PLUS Coalition (PLUS). Their response was joined by Shaftel & Schmelzer, and Doniger/Burroughs. These groups are now warning their members about the changes, and the deadline for those who want to take advantage of registration under the old rules.

The Copyright Office said in reviewing the rule, it had evaluated the time required to process group registration applications. The office concluded it takes 15-30 minutes for an examiner to process a group registration with less than 750 images, but it can be as much as four times that long to process a registration with more than 750 images. The final rule described many technological issues with the online registration system that contribute to the time increase, including a need to open each individual photograph separately if they are not uploaded as a .ZIP file. There are also problems with the character limit in the registration system and inadequate information in the applications. The Copyright Office also cited the burden on the registration system as a whole caused by the uploading of thousands of photographs in a single registration. 

The image limit is not the only change reflected in the new rules. In situations where an individual or company employs one or more photographers, the new rules will allow images by multiple photographers to be intermixed in a single group registration as long as the claimant is the "author" of all of the photographs. A photographer can be the "author" of photographs created by other photographers when those photographs are created in a work-for-hire situation, either because the second photographer is an employee, or because the second photographer is an independent contractor and creates the photographs as works made for hire. Outside of employment situations, there are specific legal conditions that must be satisfied in order for photographs to qualify as works made for hire, so it's important to consult an attorney and to ensure that all conditions are satisfied before using this option. This is a change in policy for group registration--previous group registrations were limited to groups of photographs created by a single person, regardless of employment status.

The new regulations also offer clarity on the Copyright Office's position that each photograph in a group registration is an independent work, regardless of whether or not it was registered on the same registration form, a position that could have a positive impact on statutory damages awards in copyright infringement lawsuits. 

The notice of the new rule can be found here: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2018-01-18/pdf/2018-00687.pdf

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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 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 Renee. Check out Renee's story on her battle for the rights to her own concert photography:
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Renee is an established Professional Live Concert Photographer who derives her living from licensing her concert photographs for use in magazines, newspapers, posters and other items for sale. It takes many years to build a career as a professional concert photographer and requires establishing trust with an intricate network of contacts in the music industry in order to be allowed on stage and backstage with celebrities to create unique, valuable photographs. 

Renee posted a series of time-sensitive concert photographs on her website indicating that they were available for licensing and to contact her for pricing. A company lifted Renee's photographs directly from her website, removed her watermark and copyright notice and began illegally selling them for profit without authorization from, nor payment to Renee. 

The infringing party did not respond to Renee's repeated written and verbal demands for payment and to stop selling/using her images going forward. Instead, the infringers continued to illegally profit from re-selling Renee's images for promotion, advertising and magazine articles as well as products for sale.
 
Renee looked into suing the infringer in Federal Court as the law provides, but found that it was too costly for her to pursue in that venue. She strongly feels that a Small Claims option would help her protect her copyright and livelihood while punishing the people and companies that illegally profit from her hard work.

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!

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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 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 Marie. Check out Marie's story on her battle for the rights to her own image:

Marie is an architecture photographer who gets a large portion of her income from photographing homes and licensing images to the home's seller for uses related to the sale. She recently performed such a job for a client in Idaho. Marie later found out that the real estate company her client worked with used one of her photos several times for the purpose of promoting the business. She found the advertisement for the real estate company featuring her work on the back cover of a magazine and on the back cover of the program for a music festival. Marie assumes there are other infringing uses she did not happen upon.

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Marie contacted the owner of the real estate company directly to retrieve payment for the infringing uses. She sent an invoice with her standard licensing fee. The infringer completely refused to pay anything to Marie and was adamant that the use was not an infringement because the images were provided by the photographer's client who paid for the job. The owner of the real estate company even claimed that this was their "standard practice".

A cease and desist letter was sent to the offender from Marie's photographic association on her behalf to which she received no reply. She followed up with the infringer several more times to be either ignored or sent extremely offensive responses. When asked if she would like to sue the offender, Marie responded, "I would like to but feel that is not an option and will not find an attorney to take on the case for such a small amount of money." Marie estimated the licensing fee of the infringing uses she knew about to be less than $1,000.

Marie reports that all she wants is for the offender to admit wrongdoing, pay the invoice, and change her standard practice. She believes her requests were disregarded because the infringer knew Marie could not make her pay if she refused - of course Marie was not going to file a federal lawsuit over a $1,000 licensing fee.

"A small claims option would give me the opportunity to actually pursue this further or at least would provide something to hold over [the infringer's] head," Marie said.

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

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 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 Lisa. Check out Lisa's story on her battle for the rights to her own image:

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Lisa is a scenic artist and display designer currently based in Framingham, Massachusetts. She is originally from New York City. Lisa creates scenery and props for theater, television and film productions, as well as displays, exhibits, environmental design and signage.

The artist had been hired by Hasbro, Inc. as an independent contractor for 3 consecutive years to create toy product display dioramas for their buyer's showroom in NYC in preparation for the Toy Fair annual toy industry trade show. In November 1990, Lisa was hired to create the Cabbage Patch Kids line showroom for Hasbro Toys. The artist was working on a 3-month contract as a vendor, with no statement of copyright or Work Made for Hire in the contract. The showroom was not open to the public; the displays were for retail store buyers only and photographed for limited run of printed product catalogs to give to buyers (photos never intended for any other commercial use). Just before the showroom opened for the 1991 Toy Fair, Lisa discovered that Hasbro had used photos of her 3D displays on the product packaging of at least one of their Cabbage Patch doll products, instead of using the product packaging imagery that had been designed by their marketing department.

Lisa had not registered any of the display designs because they were never intended for any use other than the showroom display, and in past years were always destroyed when the showroom closed after a few months. Lisa contacted the graphic design department and then the legal department to ask for a usage fee. They refused.

Cabbage Patch Dolls earned approximately $100 million in retail sales for Hasbro, Inc. in 1991.

The recourse Lisa would have sought had she been able to sue the infringer would have been actual damages of a licensing fee for usage, depending upon the number of units made. The creator estimates the licensing fee to be valued between $3,500 and $6,000.

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

By Chris Homer

Copyright in America is on the brink of undergoing historic changes. PPA needs your help to
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 share photographers' stories on Capitol Hill and promote improvements to copyright law that will benefit professional photographers.  

You can help and it's easy! Here's how you can get Congress to understand the need for a Small Claims system for Copyright to positively impact photographer's lives.

Five of you lucky, Imaging-USA-goers will win a 3-day-all-expenses paid trip to Washington, DC. You'll spend one day with PPA, promoting photographers rights' on Capitol Hill and you get two days to spend however you like!

You have two ways to enter at Imaging USA 2018 in Nashville, TN, January 14-16 at the Gaylord Opryland:  

1. Fill out the postcard on your chair in any classroom and drop it off in one of our many handy boxes located throughout Imaging USA, 
2. OR stop by the Social Box outside of the expo and answer a brief series of questions on camera.

That's it! And you'll be entered to win the all-expenses-paid trip to D.C.! Together we can help fix an injustice and finally get real copyright protection! Register now for Imaging USA (if you haven't already!). 


ch_headshot_100x100.jpgAbout the author:
Chris Homer is PPA's SEO & Web Specialist, which basically makes Google Analytics his best friend. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Chris cheers passionately (and obnoxiously) for the Bulldogs in all things from football to checkers. When he's not hard at work on PPA's websites, you'll find Chris at auto racing events around the southeast, where he's known as a master architect of tent villages.


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By Sidra Safri
 
As we come to the end of another fantastic year, a lot has happened in the world of Small Claims. And what better time to look back and see all the progress we have made!

December 2016: Representative Judy Chu and Representative Lamar Smith introduced a Copyright Small Claims bill. This was done on the last day of the Congressional session to send a message to fellow Representatives that this was something in works. It also gave many Representatives the ability to review what a Copyright Small Claims Process would entail and familiarize themselves with the issue. 

January to March of 2017: With the new administration coming in, Small Claims had to be put on the back burner. However, during this time PPA continued to make rounds on Capitol Hill. PPA set up approximately 15 meetings with key members of the House Judiciary to ensure the importance of Small Claims was ever present, and explain where things were in the process. 

March to August 2017: During these months, the most crucial work was being done. Not only was PPA continuously meeting with members of Congress about Copyright Small Claims, but also working on key provisions that would continue to protect photographers and creative artists alike. During this time is when Representative Judy Chu, Representative Lamar Smith, Representative Jeffries, and Representative Marino, all began working on the possibility of having one Small Claims bill. As a reminder, last Congressional Session Representative Chu and Smith introduced their own version of the bill, and Representative Jeffries and Representative Marino introduced their own versions. When comparing the two bills, they had plenty of similarities, thus paving the way for collaboration upon introduction. 

October 2017: Copyright Alternative in Small Claims Enforcement Act of 2017 (CASE Act) was introduced as H.R. 3495. This bill was introduced by Representative Jefferies and Representative Marino, and immediately co-sponsored by Representative Collins, Representative Chu, Representative Smith, and Representative Lieu. 

November to December 2017: Now that we have a bill, in order to ensure that it can makes its way through the House and on to the Senate, it is imperative to gain as many co-sponsors as possible. During these months, PPA met with 20+ Representatives to highlight the importance of Small Claims, making sure it stayed on their radar. 

We still have a long way to go to make sure that we can get a Copyright Small Claims bill passed, and this will not and cannot happen without you! Stay tuned on what is coming up and join the fight for artists rights and make your voice heard! Send a letter to your Representative at PPA.com/SmallClaims.


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Copyright in America is undergoing a historic change right now. PPA needs your help sharing photographers' stories on Capitol Hill to promote improvements to copyright law that will benefit professional photographers.  

Your voice is crucial to helping Congress understand the need for a small claims system that can positively impact photographer's lives.

Five of you lucky, Imaging-USA-attending photographers will win an all-expenses paid three day trip to Washington, DC. You'll spend one day with PPA, promoting photographers rights' on Capitol Hill and you get two days to spend however you like!

You have two ways to enter at Imaging USA 2018 in Nashville, TN, January 14-16 at the Gaylord Opryland:  

  1. Fill out the postcard on your chair in any classroom and drop it off in one of our many handy boxes located throughout Imaging USA, 
  2. OR stop by the Social Box outside of the expo and answer a brief series of questions on camera. 
That's it! And you'll be entered to win the all-expenses-paid trip to D.C.! Together we can help fix an injustice and finally get real copyright protection! Register now for Imaging USA (if you haven't already!). 


iusa18oct17ppafooter.jpg

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 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 Janis. Check out Janis' story on his battle for the rights to his own image:

Janis is an award-winning fine arts photographer who identifies himself as story-teller. He tells beautiful stories through his writing, photography and other artistic pursuits. Among his favorite subjects are architecture and vineyards. Janis captured a beautiful image of Oregon's wine country. Later, he saw a very similar image on the bumpers of Oregon citizens.

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After some investigating, he discovered that the image on a new Oregon license plate was, in fact, derived from his photo. According to Janis' account of the infringement, the tourism bureau of Salem, Oregon decided to create a license plate with a vineyard scene in order to "develop a steady stream of income." They hired an artist to create the image for the plate and provided the artist with images to use as a "vision for the plate". The plate was created with art derived from these "vision images" which included Janis' image.

With a $30 surcharge per license plate sold, the plate brought in $530,000 for the state, Janis reported. However, when contacted by Janis, an attorney representing the bureau claimed that the state did not make any profit from the plate asserting that the $530,000 was not "profit". Janis consulted with an attorney who advised that the legal realities of copyright enforcement make it very difficult to pursue a case and the fact that it would be against the state only makes it more complex.

Janis' attorney advised him to send an invoice to the bureau. He did and, many months later, has yet to receive another response.

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



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