PPA's copyright & advocacy department is always available to help answer your questions if you believe your copyright has been infringed. In addition, PPA's RECON team is hard at work ensuring that retailers aren't illegally reproducing photographer's copyrighted works.
The Retail Compliance Network (RECON) is a group of photographer "investigators" who secret shop retailers (in store and online) to see if they are compliant with copyright law. PPA uses the results of these investigations to push the retailer toward greater copyright compliance.
Louisiana photographer and PPA member since 1998, Tim Schooler recently saw first-hand how PPA's RECON program works to ensure that retail stores are enforcing photographer's copyrights.
Schooler needed some last minute prints made from a photo session with his grandson for the child's first birthday party. He ordered the prints from his local Wal-Green's.
After picking the prints up, Schooler realized that he had not been asked for any identification or verification of a release form; necessary since they were copyright-protected studio portraits.
"I wouldn't need the release since I was the photographer, but what if this had been one of my clients?" Schooler said.
The next day, Schooler contacted the manager of the Wal-Green's to ask him what the store policy was for handling printing of studio portraits.
"When I explained to him what had happened he was quite upset and said the person who printed the images and sold them to me without a release could be fired." Schooler said. In this case, the clerk that assisted him knew he was the photographer because some of her friends had come to Schooler for Senior Portraits.
The manager went on to explain that someone from PPA's RECON frequently checks on the store.
"Recently, someone from PPA was in their store printing professional images to see what they would do. He said he knew infringement was subject to huge fines and took copyright violations very seriously." Schooler said of his conversation with the manager.
"I was so impressed that PPA does this. One more reason it is worth every penny to belong to PPA." Schooler said of RECON.
Read more about RECON here.