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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 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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by Sidra Safri

Hi PPA!
We just wrapped up our third day in D.C. We had so many meetings schedule to ensure that we hit all members of the judiciary that we had to split the group up to make all of them! Many of the meetings were in offices of Members of Congress that we have met with in the past. However, we make sure to circle back to these offices to not only take the opportunity to update them on the changes or status of the CASE act but also to continue to encourage them to sign on and have them realize how many people CASE will effect. 

We started our day in Ted Poe's office (TX-R). During this meeting, we gave them an update on the small claims bill and wanted to take moment to go over who all has co-sponsored the bill. This is important since if a congressional member aligns with another congressional member they are likely to talk and convince each other to co-sponsor.  

After meeting with Representative Poe's office we went on to meet with Representative Gohmert of Texas. This was one of the first times we have met with this office. This meeting was a chance to summarize what the CASE act would do but also how the Copyright Office would benefit from the passage of this bill. Representative Gohmert's office was very responsive to the bill, and has said that they will reach out to us with additional questions. 

After meeting with Representatives from Texas, we moved on to meet with Chairman Goodlatte and his Chief of Staff Joe Keeley. The Chair has great hopes for this bill and wants to move the bill forward. He told us that now is the time to engage grassroots support and encourage more Representatives to co-sponsor the bill. The more co-sponsors, the more likely the bill will move and have an easier time getting through. 

Once we left Chairman Goodlatte's office we met with Representative Issa of California. During this meeting, we updated them on changes made to the CASE Act and were told that the Representative is keenly considering this bill, and may possibly co-sponsor. We will follow up with this office to see what else we can do to make sure this happens. 

The next two offices we met with were Representative Cicilline (D-RI) and Representative Raskin (D-MD). This was our first-time meeting with both offices. During this meeting, we caught them up on Small Claims and laid the foundation of the CASE Act. Since these were our first-time meetings with these offices we know we must circle back at the beginning of next year and make sure we keep them updated and encourage them to co-sponsor. 

As you can tell we had a jam-packed day on the Hill. We are heading to the airport now getting ready to head back to Atlanta. As a reminder... keep sending those letters!

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by Sidra Safri

4:00pm 
We just finished Day 2 on Capitol Hill and must say that it was another great day! 

As many of you saw, we started the day with Doug Collins. Representative Collins was kind enough to join David on Facebook Live and talk about why Small Claims is so important. As many of you remember, Representative Doug Collins is already a co-sponsor of the CASE act and is doing everything in his power to ensure that this bill gets passed. 

After talking with Representative Collins, we then moved on to meet with Representative Chabot's office (Ohio-D). We had the opportunity to meet with this office in the past and thought it would be a good time to circle back and go into more details why small claims is necessary. Like at our previous meetings, Representative Chabot's office was receptive to the idea of small claims and understands why there is a need for such a process. We also helped answer any questions the office may have had, and we hope that Rep. Chabot will join in as a co-sponsor. 

Once we left Representative Chabot's office we met with Representative Jordan's office of Ohio (R). This was one of our first meetings with this office. During this meeting, we took the time to lay the foundation for small claims and why it so necessary now more than ever before. During this meeting, we were fortunate enough to have members of the Visual Associations join us and share their insight and stories on why small claims is so important.
   
Moving on from Representative Jordan's office we met with Representative Frank's Office (R-AZ). This was our first-time meeting with this office as well. Initially we were supposed to meet with the Representative himself. However, due to the last-minute changes and the need to be on the House floor, we met with a staffer instead. We provided a good summary of the CASE act and explained where the bill currently stands. Since this was our first time meeting with this office we wanted to provide them with all the necessary information and give them time to think about whether small claims would be something they could support. 

After Representative Frank's office, we met with Representative Deutch (R-FL). This is an office we have met with a few times, but wanted to take some time off and meet with the Representative himself. Since the Representative was in the middle of votes, the meeting was short but one that was extremely productive. Representative Deutch is a huge advocate for small creators and understands the fight against copyright infringement. We hope with the information we have provided and his interest in protecting Copyright, that he will sign on and co-sponsor the CASE Act. 

Finally, we ended our day with Representative Cohen (TN-R).  This meeting was fairly short as well since we met with this office last month and wanted to take a quick minute to provide the office with any updates we could. We are hoping that constantly being updated will encourage Representative Cohen to sign on as a co-sponsor. 

Like I said, we are done for the day but we will be right back at it on tomorrow. In the meantime, don't forget to send your rep a call or later at PPA.Com/smallclaims.


10:00 am Good Morning PPA! 

We are off to the races this morning! We are going to start the day with Georgia's Representative Doug Collins. Rep Collins has agreed to do a Facebook live with us to talk about the CASE act and why it is so important. He will also outline what you need to do to make sure the act gets passed!

After that, we are going to rush off to meet with Rep. Chabot of Ohio (R). We have met with him before but wanted to take a quick moment to touch base with him again and show him how many small creators will be positively impacted by this bill. During this meeting, we will also have members of the Visual Association joining us. Remember there is power in numbers!

Once we leave Chabot's office we are going to another Ohio office. This time it will be Rep.  Jordan  (R). We are going to bring Rep. Jordan's office up to speed on what has been happening with the CASE act and answer any questions that he may have. We are hoping that Rep. Jordan will understand why the CASE act is so important and eventually sign on as a co-sponsor.

After Rep Jordan's office, we will be moving on to Rep. Franks' office of Arizona (R). We have met with this office in the past but want to circle back and see if they had any questions and give them a few updates.

After meeting with Rep. Jordan our next stop will be Rep Deutch's office of Florida (R). This is an office we have met with multiple times! We are hoping that we can bring them up to speed as well and convince them to sign on as co-sponsors.

Last but not least we end the day with Rep. Cohen of TN (D). We are hoping Rep. Cohen understands the needs of small creators since Memphis and Nashville are in his state. We have not met with this office recently, but thought it would be a good time to do so!

I am running to Collins' office now, but as always do not forget to send your letters! We need Congress to hear from us on why the CASE act is so important!



By Sidra Safri
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Good Morning PPA! 

David Trust and I are back in D.C for another action-packed trip to our nation's capital. Today we are meeting with the Visual Association. As a reminder, this association includes APA, ASMP, DMLA, GAG, NANPA, NPPA, and PPA. During this annual meeting, we all get together to lay out the game plan for Small Claims. This year is more crucial than ever before since we are actively working on getting H.R 3945 passed. 

During this meeting, we will also talk about other problems faced by small creators including trying to figure out when something is considered "published" or "unpublished" and how to effectively use a DMCA claim. 

At this meeting, we will also be joined by Keith Kupferschmid of the Copyright Alliance and possibly a few members of the Copyright Office. We are hoping that during these meetings we will get some great insight on where everything stands and garner more support. 

Finally, we have a great treat in the works for tomorrow! Georgia's own Representative Doug Collins will be on Facebook Live with us tomorrow talking about the CASE act! 

As always do not forget to contact your representative urging them to co-sponsor H.R 3945, this cannot happen without you!


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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 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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5:02 pm
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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