Copyright Protection: The Sad Truth

Did you know that you have virtually no protection under copyright law today?

Sure, you’ve been told that the very moment you capture a photograph, that image is owned by you and protected by copyright laws. 

What is often overlooked is that our one-size-fits-all copyright system is grossly ineffective in protecting the hundreds of thousands of small-business creatives. 

Makes you wonder, what is the value of the © symbol?

Makes you wonder, what is the value of the © symbol?

It’s estimated that 70% of professional photographers have dealt with copyright infringements. But let’s get real. “Infringement” is such a polite word. We are dealing with theft. 

When images are stolen, the estimated value of most cases is under $3,000. And, copyright infringement is a federal crime and is handled in the federal system. Let’s say you want to hire an intellectual property attorney to help you. The American Bar Association has estimated that for an attorney to even consider filing a federal lawsuit the damages likely to be recovered must be over $30,000.

The harsh reality is that current copyright laws offer virtually no protection to the vast majority of creatives. But, all is not gloom and doom!

Any American creator - photographers, illustrators, designers and other visual artists - needs to be aware that this year we are facing a unique opportunity to fix the copyright laws. 

Currently, there is bipartisan legislation being worked on in the House Judiciary Committee to introduce a small claims enforcement option administered by the United States Copyright Office. 

David Trust, CEO of the Professional Photographers Association, has described the timing of this small claims process as a “perfect storm”. He says, “This is our change, it’s our fight, our opportunity, and it would likely be a generation before we get another chance like this.”

This may sound a bit alarmist, but let’s look at the facts. Our current copyright laws are based on The Copyright Act of 1976. These laws were adopted as a result of the United States’ participation in the Universal Copyright Convention (UCC) which was signed in 1955. Yes, it took 21 years just to get a bill passed that conforms to UCC standards. 

Prior to that, the last major revision to copyright law in the United States was in 1909. 

Today we are at a crossroads. We have bipartisan support. We have legislation being drafted and, remarkably, the past few weeks have seen this legislation get bumped up on the legislative calendar. Both parties are desperately looking for something to get behind that is not so decisive and this legislation seems to fit that bill.

It makes no difference what side of the isle you sit on. This bill is desperately needed and we need your help to make it through. 

What Can You Do?

Join the Grassroots Action Team. It takes less than a minute and costs nothing. You simply give PPA your name, address, and email. This information will NOT be used for any marketing. 

When the time is right, you’ll get an email that will give you a link to a page where you can send a pre-written letter to your representatives in Congress.

Both signing up and sending the letter should take no more than a minute of your time. But the impact you have can be enormous.  When the time is right we need to raise this bill out of the flotsam and jetsam of the Congressional process and make sure it gets it's due process. And that means we need your help.

Join The Grassroots Action Team