The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), along with the Professional Photographers of America (PPA), has submitted comments to the U.S. Copyright Office in response to proposed new registration fees. The Copyright Office is proposing the adoption of new fees for registering claims, recording documents, and providing certain special services to be effective October 1, 2012 and requested comments to its proposal.
According to ASMP Executive Director Eugene Mopsik, "It has been ASMP's goal to achieve a fair, speedy and economically affordable system so that all professionals will be encouraged to register their work and maximize copyright protection under the law. The proposed fees would add a monetary burden to an already ambiguous and underutilized system of registration." ASMP General Counsel Victor Perlman added, "The proposed Copyright Office fee increases would be catastrophic for working photographers and would drastically reduce the frequency of their copyright registrations. We urge the Copyright Office and the Congress to leave the current fee schedule in place."
In formulating the Copyright Office comments, ASMP surveyed its members about copyright registration and received nearly 900 responses. Sixty percent of respondents reported having submitted work to the Copyright Office, with most filing 2 to 5 times a year. Two-thirds of the group said they would plan to decrease filing if the proposed fee increases were implemented. When asked about the appeal of a possible subscription service, which ASMP has previously proposed, many said they would find that attractive. The following represent the sentiment expressed in the survey's open-ended responses, and have been submitted with the comments to the Copyright Office. Participants said:
- There is little justification for the increase in copyright registration fees.
- There is a lack of clear definition of the terms: 'published,' 'unpublished,' 'group submissions,' 'basic claim,' 'other than a basic claim' and 'work.'
- They see the Copyright Office as technologically out of sync with their needs.
- The proposed increase comes at an inopportune time in which there are challenging economic conditions and changes in the profession that make it more important than ever for photographers to protect their work.
- The increase would place an undue burden on students and emerging photographers making it cost-prohibitive for them to register and therefore more vulnerable to infringement.
Read the comments here.