ASMP Submits Comments On Copyright Small Claims

Posted on 1/19/2012 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) has submitted its comments on “Remedies for Copyright Small Claims” to the U.S. Copyright Office. The Office asked for comments related to a study it is undertaking at the request of Congress to assess whether and how the current legal system hinders or prevents copyright owners from pursuing copyright infringement claims that have a relatively small economic value. The Office also asked for potential alternatives to improve the settlement of these claims.
According to ASMP General Counsel Victor S. Perlman, “Sadly, photographers are disenfranchised from access to the copyright protections to which they are legally entitled. Every year we receive hundreds of telephone calls and e-mails from our members and other professional photographers concerning this issue. We would regard it as a great step forward if the Copyright Office and Congress can further the goal of having a system that allows fair, speedy and economically affordable access to legal enforcement of copyrights for all copyright holders, no matter the amount of money at stake.” ASMP, which represents over 7,000 members, has had a long-term interest in this issue and Perlman has testified on the subject in the “Small Claims Hearing” held by the House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property.
ASMP’s submitted comments provide possible alternatives for consideration while acknowledging that there are, in fact, a number of approaches to creating a system of enforcement that would be efficient and affordable enough to allow the practical and fair redress of claims involving comparatively small amounts of money. ASMP is open to discussing any and all solutions, and has been working closely with an ad hoc committee of visual arts organizations including: Graphic Artist Guild (GAG), Professional Photographers of America (PPA), Picture Archive Council of America (PACA), North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) and American Photographic Artists (APA). While many of these organizations are filing individual comments, there is general agreement on several core points:

  • The ability to bring a claim, cost effectively, and without the need of legal representation.
  • The ability to have claims adjudicated in a timely fashion by a tribunal of representatives knowledgeable about copyright.
  • A provision for incentives to discourage a defendant from rejecting the tribunal’s adjudication.
  • A resolution of claims that offers finality and ease of enforcement of any judgment.
Lawyer Charles Swan also reports that a small claims court system for copyright claims is in the process of being introduced in England and should be operational later on in 2012 for claims under £5,000.

Copyright © 2012 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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