Copyright

Copyright Assistance
Get up, stand up...for your rights, we mean!

Whether you have a legal question, need help putting a stop to retailer infringement, or have had your work stolen by a large company, we can help you. PPA is proud to provide our members with a full-time Copyright & Government Affairs department. In fact, it's the only full-time staff like that in the entire photographic association world. We'll get you pointed in the right direction!

>How You Can Protect Your Copyright
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Copyright Resources

Copyright ResourcesAs a professional photographer, protecting your images is one of your top priorities. So if you have questions about copyright laws, look no further. Our Copyright & Government Affairs Department works tirelessly to gather the latest and greatest on the laws that affect your most precious commodity. Our copyright resource center is chock-full of the most accurate, up-to-date information and is available online 24 hours a day for your viewing pleasure.

PPA Member-Only Copyright Downloads

Copyright Webinars

Other Copyright Resources


How You Can Protect Your Copyright

Copiers, scanners and printers...oh MY! These days it's all too easy for your clients to use the available technology to reproduce your work. It may feel like you're fighting a losing battle, but you're not alone. You're a member of PPA, and we are staunchly in your corner...with all the copyright information you need to protect your images. We're here to educate, advocate and, if necessary, help you litigate.

What Can You Do?
Remember: Copyright is a property right. Under the Federal Copyright Act of 1976 (effective January 1, 1978 and amended when the U.S. joined the Berne Convention in 1989), photographs are protected by copyright from the moment of creation.

You are the first line of defense in copyright protection. We are here to support you, but we also encourage you to take these simple steps to strengthen your position:

  • Mark your images as copyrighted. This can be done on the front or back of a print, and you can either watermark a digital image or embed your copyright in the metadata. While it is not required by law (your images are protected from the moment of creation), it is a wise step.
  • Let customers know how to contact you—PPA Members may use their Member ID number and PPA's number, 800-786-6277. We regularly help consumers find the creator of an image.
  • Educate and inform your customers that images are protected by Federal Copyright Law.
  • Use the “Copyright Statement,” which you can download here. These can be posted in your studio and inserted into each print order. (You can also call 800-786-6277 to purchase printed packs of 50 inserts.)
  • Include a statement about copyright in your contract or other sales agreements. Infringements can then be dealt with as a contract violation, not just as a Federal Copyright case.
  • Consider including a statement with every order, reminding clients that photographs are protected by copyright and that they (the customers) agree that reprints will only be ordered from the original photographer or with the photographer's permission.

In addition, we suggest you visit local store managers and urge them to keep an eye out for copyright infringement. They may get their feathers ruffled if they aren't well-informed about copyright laws, so approach them in a friendly manner and open a casual, non-confrontational conversation.

The Chamber of Commerce and the Better Business Bureau may also be helpful allies, and local media is often willing to print press releases focused on consumer education.

Grassroots efforts such as these CAN make a difference. Your images are your property, so assert yourself and take the bull by the horns!

Couple of notes here: Make sure that a local attorney reviews any changes made to your contracts. Contract law varies from state to state. Oh, and if your work has been copied and your copyrights infringed upon, contact PPA. Be prepared to give us specific information concerning the case, and we'll give you advice on next steps. This is a PPA member-only service.


Join RECON

Let us ask you three important questions:

  1. Are you concerned about retailers reproducing your work?
  2. Do you want to help protect our profession and your profits?
  3. Did you miss your calling as an undercover agent?

If you answered a resounding YES to all three, then we have a golden opportunity for you! Become a RECON Investigator, and together we can improve photo center copyright compliance.

The Retail Compliance Network (RECON) is a dedicated group of photographer investigators who go undercover in an effort to preserve the integrity of photographers' copyrights. They embark on stealth missions to local retailers who offer photo finishing services or use online print services to see if they are complying with copyright law. If a retailer violates the laws, PPA approaches them with the results and urges them toward greater compliance.

While we have recently updated the program, it will still focus on larger retail chains. At these locations, your clients are most likely to have unsupervised access to printing and scanning services. Of course, if you'd like to take on a “mini-mission” at a regional or local retail chain, we're happy to help coordinate!

To Become a RECON Investigator, You Must:

  • Be an active PPA member.
  • Complete a program application.
  • Have a basic understanding of U.S. Copyright Laws – If you don't, we can help!
  • Attend an online RECON Investigator Orientation.
  • Accept the cost of missions assigned to you – Average costs are less than $3.
  • Participate in half of all annual missions.

If selected for upcoming missions, you will participate in an RECON Orientation Webinar. Upon successful completion of the orientation process, the missions will take just a few easy steps:

  • PPA will send you information on the current RECON mission.
  • Visit the retailer selected for the current RECON investigation with a clearly marked, copyright-protected print. The image does not have to be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, but that certainly would be a bonus.
  • Ask the retailer to make a copy of your print or digital file.
    • If they say no, politely thank them for their time and simply leave. Do not attempt to talk them into copying it.
    • If they do make the copy, be sure to keep the copy and your receipt as proof of the transaction.
  • Regardless of the outcome of your visit, report your findings to by email. Include any information you can provide about the staff person who assisted you and other details relating to your visit.

RECONWhy Participate?
As a member of the RECON program, you will play an important role in protecting the property rights of photographers everywhere. It's one way to be an advocate for your profession! As an extension of the program, you will also...

  • Have access to an instant network of photographers who are as passionate about copyright enforcement as you are.
  • Gain unique insight into PPA's ongoing efforts to improve copyright compliance through a quarterly e-newsletter.
  • Receive recognition among your peers. A list of RECON Investigators by state will be available exclusively to fellow PPA members (as a means of preserving your identity to the general public).

Thanks to all who have participated in the RECON Program! Your work makes it possible to defend the copyrights of all photographers. Together we'll work to enforce copyright law,one undercover mission at a time.

Please contact us if you have any questions or comments regarding the RECON Program. To become a RECON Investigator, click here to download the application.

Click here to read PPA Member Tim Schooler's RECON testimonial.


Use the Photographer Registry

It's an age-old problem and a thorn in your side: Copyright infringement. Not only is it illegal, it's downright maddening. But what happens when honest people try to obtain your images the right way, and they can't find you? Well, that's a horse of a different color, but a problem nonetheless!

In attempting to locate a photographer, researchers often hit dead ends, media buyers pull their hair out trying to get up-to-date contact information and everyone ends up frustrated. It dilutes the legitimacy of copyrights and fuels a flurry of unnecessary complaints to the government.

But what can we do?

We're so glad you asked. You can take advantage of The Photographer Registry.

The Photographer Registry
The Photographer Registry is a free service designed to help customers, retailers and media buyers locate photographers to obtain copyright approval.

A consumer often only remembers the old address or phone number of the photographer they worked with. But the photographer may have closed their business, moved or even be deceased. A registry with listings of current and previous contact information just makes good sense.

With this valuable service, photographers can keep their contact information current, choose what information to display, identify their heirs, and specify how reproduction requests can be handled.

Take Advantage of the Photographer Registry...It's Simple:

  • Go to www.photographerregistry.com (there is no cost).
  • Log in using your PPA member number as the username, and the first 10 characters of your last name (including capitalization).
  • Update your record.

Contact Congress

Let your voice be heard!

While you can rest assured that PPA is tirelessly advocating for professional photographers' best interests on Capitol Hill, you can also do your part on a more local level. Contact your representative or senator, and provide them with your valuable input. It will help bring to the forefront the issues that matter most to your profession. And it will make it more personal to the people representing you in Congress!


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