Two years ago the House Judiciary committee began a comprehensive review of the current Copyright Act. They plan to complete their study at the end of this year.
In the past couple of weeks APA has participated in two important events as part of their review.
APA was well-represented at the Congressional Creative Rights Caucus panel discussion titled, "Visual Artists in America: The Untold Story of Copyright". Michael Grecco, Executive VP of APA, was the lead presenter, followed by representatives from the Graphic Artists Guild, Digital Media Licensing Association, National Press Photographers Association and the Professional Photographers of America.
The briefing was hosted by CRC Co-chairs Rep. Judy Chu and Rep. Doug Collins and was designed to give Congressmen and staffers an overview of the challenges individual creative artists have regarding copyright. Many points were made in the lively and well attended meeting, including the need for modernizing the Copyright Office, ways to streamline the registration process, the need for a small-claims court option, making "Fair Use" fair for the creator and establishing a collective agency as a way to receive payments for mass infringement.
In the audience, and available to answer questions, were APA copyright consultant, Gene Mopsick, Washington DC Chapter Chairman, Matthew Rakola NY Chapter Co-Chairman, Ron Jautz, DC Regional Director Erika Nizborski and APA Professional member Cameron Davidson.
After the formal meeting, a delegation of creative artist representatives, including all of the above mentioned APA members, visited individual Congressmen and their staff in their offices for sit down meetings and to relate more personal stories of how difficult the copyright system is for individual artists to navigate and ideas for improving and modernizing both the Copyright Office and the procedures for registration. The meetings, with five different Congressmen and/or their staff, were very productive as we were able to answer specific questions and impress upon them the vast number of individual creative artists that operate small businesses throughout the United States and how those individual creators deserve fair representation in a copyright system that is largely broken in the digital age.
In Los Angeles the visual art associations were invited to speak to the house Judiciary Committee as part of their “listening tour”. 12 Representatives and 12 Staffers spent two days in face-to-face conversations with a variety of interests including those of Silicon Valley, Movie Studios, and Museums.
The Visual Artist associations APA, ASMP, NPPA, GAG, PPA were invited to one of the roundtable discussion. In particular to discuss Small Claims options and modernization of the Copyright Office.
Participants from the associations included, APA: Art Streiber, Dana Hursey, Kate Turning, David Robin, Al Satterwhite. ASMP: Jenna Close, David Zentz, Barry Schwartz, NPPA: Liz Kuball, Scott McKiernan and from DMLA: Sarah Fix
The photographers had the opportunity to express concerns over the cumbersome process of registering thousands of images after each project. The outdated “published” category is confusing. It brings unreasonable added fees and is unnecessary in today’s digital age. It should be eliminated.
There was concern from the committee when they heard how easily and deliberately metadata is stripped from the images when uploaded to social media or websites. It seemed an area they thought they could perhaps address – which would be a big win for photographers.
Small Claims is being considered as an option since currently Copyright issues can only be challenged in Federal Court. This is a denial of due process as costs for Federal Court can be in the tens of thousands.
Infringers are not often pursued because the ISP have immunity (thanks to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act).
As we know, the system is not working for visual artists, therefore there is Market Failure.
More to come including proposed solutions.