PPA Urges President to Uphold IP Laws

On April 20, Professional Photographers of America (PPA) joined members of the Copyright Alliance and other industry groups to urge President Barak Obama to consider the role strong intellectual property (IP) laws play in creating jobs and encouraging innovation when selecting IP appointments. To date, his appointments have reflected an understanding of IP’s importance.

Monday’s letter was in response to an earlier group letter critical of the President’s cabinet picks. Groups who signed this letter include the Consumer Electronic Association, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Public Knowledge. In their letter, they expressed a desire that future appointments reflect all sides of the copyright industries (namely, those interested in an expansion of copyright laws).

Why are these letters important? The administration has yet to appoint the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, a position established in last-year’s PRO-IP Act. That position would oversee and bring together a cross section of agencies that address intellectual property matters—like photographic copyrights and trademarks.

“If, under pressure, President Obama appeases the groups clamoring for ‘free expression,’ it might mean appointing an Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator who would weaken the copyright law. This would ultimately hinder photographers’ ability to protect the work they create,” explains David Trust, CEO of PPA. “To prevent this, we must prove the importance of strong intellectual property laws at every turn.”

As the PPA-backed letter says:

“The authors of the April 2 letter would have you believe that you must choose between safeguarding IP protection on the one hand and promoting innovation on the other. This supposed conflict is itself an invention, and we must avoid the false dichotomy which suggests that there is a conflict between the rights of authors and inventors and the need for innovation or creativity. Intellectual property drives innovation and creativity, from the production of new creative works to the development of consumer electronics and medicine.”

One thing both parties can agree on is the fact that the President and his appointees should “promote innovation and advance the cause of progress in the sciences and useful arts.” They, of course, disagree on the best way to do that.

PPA and the other members of the Copyright Alliance will be watching to ensure that photographers’ and other creators’ voices are heard.

Read the April 2 letter focused on relaxed copyright laws.
Read the PPA-backed letter on April 20, focused on strengthened copyright laws.

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