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Recap of PPA April Advocacy trip to DC - PPA Today

Recap of PPA April Advocacy trip to DC

PPA's copyright team is back in Atlanta after spending the past few days in our nation's capital, advocating for the issues that matter most to professional photographers. Catch up on Tuesday and Wednesday's events, and then read the recap below for more details! Things are REALLY moving in the right direction on the copyright front!

By Lindsey Forson

This is an exciting time in the world of copyright policy. We're expecting to see proposed legislation, as early as this legislative session, which could result in the first changes to the Copyright Act in over four decades! This trip was effective in terms of our lobbying efforts and extremely educational in our understanding of what changes might be forthcoming.

One of the highlights of the visit was attending a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee during which Maria Pallante, the Register of the U.S. Copyright Office testified. This was the last hearing of a copyright review process that has been going on for more than two years. In 2013, Pallante was the first to call for the review of Copyright Law and administration. Since then, the Committee has held 20 hearings and heard 100 testimonies on the topic. It was only fitting for Pallante to testify again in the final hearing.

Pallante gave her perspective on what should be the Committee's priorities moving forward. She called for a modernization of the U.S. Copyright Office, addressing concerns with its organizational structure, I.T. capacity, budgeting, and staffing. She also presented items she believes are ready for legislative action. We were most excited to hear that a small claims process for addressing copyright infringements is (finally) on the top of that list. Pallante urged members of the Committee to take action now. Additionally, she presented issues in need of further investigation and analysis such as Section 512 of the Act and mass digitization. You can access her full testimony here.

The rest of our trip focused on lobbying appointments with members of the House Judiciary Committee. The Judiciary Committee will be the group to propose new copyright legislation. We met with several freshman members of Congress who sit on the Committee or their staff members, to introduce them to who PPA is and the issues that are important to us.

Our goal, as always, was to present copyright issues from the photographer's perspective. So often, members of Congress hear from copyright stakeholders from the recording or motion picture industry. We strongly believe those high-value creators are also entitled to protection under the Copyright Act, but since they operate on such a different business model than smaller businesses, their concerns do not always reflect those of all creators. This is why it's important for photographers to also be represented on Capitol Hill. Several times, when we presented a concern specific to high volume creators, as photographers are, we heard a staffer say something along the lines of, "Wow, I never thought of that." Making sure lawmakers are thinking of professional photographers is of utmost importance to PPA.


We also met with Committee members who are already strong advocates for Copyright owners. These are the ones we hope will be our champions in the coming months when it comes to proposing and advocating for important legislation and administrative progress.


In all of our meetings, we 

A. reinforced many of the issues presented by Pallante in the hearing, prioritizing certain issues, and

B. asked for legislation that creates a small claims process. 


The staffers of two Committee members, Congressman Judy Chu (CA) and Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (NY), made a strong stance in agreement with a small claims process. Every single staff we met with seemed receptive to this concept. We also stressed the need for a Copyright system, to include registration and enforcement, which will meet the needs of all creators, unlike the one-size-fits-all process we have now and that best accommodates low-volume, extremely high-value creators (but not the majority of photographers).


In several meetings, depending on the committee assignments of their Congressman, we also reinforced our position on drone photography: We are very pleased that FAA proposed new drone regulations which would finally make drone photography a feasible, legal option for pros. Although we have concerns with certain provisions of the proposal (which have been expressed in Comments to the FAA from PPA updated 04-24.pdf), overall we are advocating for a final rule based on the proposal to be made as soon as possible. Our primary message is that time is of the essence for professional photographers.


PPA will be back up on the Hill by mid-May and on many more occasions throughout 2015, advocating for you! As a PPA photographer, if you have specific advocacy concerns, we encourage you to reach out to us. Simply call customer service at 800-786-6277 and ask for the Copyright & Government Affairs Department or email us at CopyrightDefense@ppa.com.



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This page contains a single entry by Professional Photographers of America (PPA) published on May 1, 2015 10:27 PM.

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