Benefits / Resources / Articles
April 06, 2017

Despite Drone Advances, Copyright Rules Still Apply

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For professional photographers and hobbyists alike, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (drones) have proven to be the latest and greatest innovation for getting that perfect shot. Today, stunning aerial photos that once required a ride on a helicopter can now be captured by a small drone weighing just a few pounds. But just as the FAA has adapted its rules to compensate for growing drone usage across the industry, copyright law still applies for the owners of these images.

And soon, infringed photographers may be able to pursue a small claims process rather than having to take a case to Federal Court.  Professional Photographers of America (PPA) and thousands of other creative professionals have banded together in support of the "Fairness for American Small Creators Act," a "small claims bill" that would make it possible for small business image creators (including professional photographers) to take advantage of the U.S. copyright system for the first time since its inception!

The Act would allow for photographers, including drone photographers, whose work has been infringed upon to file for a hearing with a small claims process online without having to hire an attorney.  Additionally, copyright claims could be filed without prior registration with the Copyright Office. The maximum recovery amount would be set at a manageable $30,000, ensuring that small creators have a place to remedy their copyright infringements, while also preventing the pipeline of infringement claims from becoming clogged (like it is now). Last but not least, those who still wish to pursue their claim in Federal Court may still do so. 

Now is the time for all photographers to make their voices heard on Capitol Hill - and getting involved is easy. PPA has partnered with other leading visual arts organizations and created a Grassroots Action Team dedicated to fixing this broken copyright law. Visit and add your name to a growing roster of individuals and businesses seeking more effective copyright legislation. Once signed-up and when the bill is reintroduced, you will receive alerts and information on how or when to contact your representative.