Thursday, January 18, 2018

Take Action Now – Copyright Simplified

One of the many reservations photographers have to putting up any sort of official objection – that is, to file a lawsuit in court – is the cost and time associated with doing so. Further, their objections include the cost of hiring an attorney, and then paying them again, and again, and again. Then, there’s the reservation because, well, they didn’t register the copyright before the infringement. This all leads up to the idea that copyright protections don’t really help the individual photographer, they’re designed to protect corporate interests, so why bother doing anything at all?

This apathy has caused a downward spiral in copyright registrations, and the inverse is the case for infringements. Photographers feel helpless, and some fear sharing their work in any capacity online will result in large-scale theft of their work, so they don’t.

Enter small claims court.  In civil proceedings, if you have a disagreement that is minor (some jurisdictions cap it at $10k - $30k), you can come before a judge, present your case and evidence, and the judge will decide. It’s Judge Judy without the cameras and studio lighting. No jury, and, no expensive attorneys if you’re an individual.  It’s quick, and usually painless. In the world of copyright, to date, you have had to file a federal lawsuit and jump through a lot of hoops and hire a seasoned lawyer to help you through the process.  If the The “Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2017” or the “CASE Act of 2017” becomes law, that won’t be your only option. 

This solution -  the Copyright Small Claims Board, proposes a small claims procedure would allow for an individual copyright holder to bring a claim where the cap on the award is $30,000, and does not require you to hire an attorney to represent you. While I would recommend you hire an attorney in matters such as this, in some instances, an attorney is not necessary.  And, as far as how much it would cost you to file a copyright claim? The act stipulated “a filing fee in such amount as may be prescribed in regulations established by the Register of Copyrights, which amount shall be at least $100, shall not exceed the cost of filing an action in a United States district court.”  So, for $100 or a bit more, and without an attorney, you can get the ball rolling where someone has infringed your work.

This looks to be an amazing solution where a website or t-shirt vendor or even a magazine has stolen your work. Has someone stolen your work and posted it on their instagram account? Here’s your solution, provided it becomes law. The Copyright Alliance has more information here - - and visit this link – a streamlined way for you to contact your member of congress.

(Continued after the Jump)

David Trust, CEO of the Professional Photographers of America explains it thusly:

Tom Kennedy, Executive Director of ASMP stated that “the introduction of the CASE Act is a critical step in the several years-long effort by ASMP and its colleagues in the creative community to correct an historic inequity in the copyright law: the failure of the law to provide individual creators with an effective and affordable means to combat infringements of their creative works—an especially vexing problem in a digital environment where piracy occurs at the click of a mouse.”

The NPPA, back in 2012, pointed out that  “While much of the advocacy by NPPA deals with access issues and the right to photograph and record in public; it cannot be understated that without the ability to affordably protect one’s copyright visual journalists will soon be out of business,” Mickey Osterreicher, NPPA general counsel said. “That is why it is so important that the Copyright Office support a new initiative that will address this critical issue,” he added. The NPPA went on to note that "As many photojournalists face situations involving copyright claims that amount to a limited amount of damages, the NPPA strongly supports the creation of a copyright small claims court system by the Copyright Office that would permit photojournalists to resolve such claims in an expedited and cost effective manner."

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.


Newer Post Older Post