Copyright & Legal

States Ignoring Copyright

By Jim Pickerell | 201 Words | Posted 7/15/2020 | Comments
In March 2020, a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruling held that Congress lacked authority to abrogate state’s sovereign immunity from infringement suits in the Copyright Remedy Clarification Act of 1990 (CRCA). When Congress passed the Copyright Remedy Clarification Act, it was responding to pressure from filmmakers like Rick Allen – as well as movie studios, software companies, and many other IP stakeholders – who said states were abusing sovereign immunity to avoid paying licensing fees.

Is There A Need For A Publication Like Selling Stock?

By Jim Pickerell | 558 Words | Posted 6/23/2020 | Comments
After reading my story “Copyright Protection For Photos Is Dead” Paul Melcher wrote, “If there is no more copyright, then there is no more licensing. If there is no more photo licensing then there is no more reason for the existence of ‘Selling Stock’"

Do Photographers Have Any Rights?

By Jim Pickerell | 592 Words | Posted 6/12/2020 | Comments
A couple days ago we told you about the sad case of Stephanie Sinclair who had an image used by Mashable after she told them that $50 wasn’t a sufficient payment for permission to use her copyrighted image. After 4 years a judge in the Southern District Court of New York decided in Mashable’s favor saying that if a photographer posts a picture on a “public” Instagram account anyone can use that picture for any purpose whatsoever without permission or compensation.? But now Instagram tells Ars Technica, their TOS doesn't give companies like Mashable the right to make such uses.  Which legal opinion is right?

Copyright Protection For Photos Is Dead

By Jim Pickerell | 1364 Words | Posted 6/10/2020 | Comments
One or my readers, Amyn Nasser, recently asked, “Isn’t it about time that ALL photographers started using copyright watermarks on all images that appear on social media platforms?" To a certain extent many photographers and agencies have tried for a decade or so to reduce infringement by placing watermarks on their images. For the most part the effort has been a total failure. This story will explain some of the reasons why.

Professional Photographer Dilemma

By Jim Pickerell | 798 Words | Posted 6/5/2020 | Comments
Photographers interested in licensing rights to the images they produce, or in showing their work in hopes of getting assignments, have a dilemma. The only way they can earn money is to advertise and show potential customers what they can do, but the very act of showing in today’s Internet environment creates a huge risk that the images will be grabbed and used without compensation.

Copyright Owners Bear the Brunt of Protecting Against Piracy, 512(c) Report Finds

By Nancy e. Wolff | 280 Words | Posted 6/3/2020 | Comments
On May 21, 2020, the United States Copyright Office published its long awaited 512 (c) report and issued recommendations. The Copyright Office’s report looks at Congress’ intent in enacting the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which offered service providers safe harbors to provide incentives for internet platforms and copyright owners to cooperate in order to detect and deal with copyright infringements in the online environment. The Report looks at that balance in light of the changes in the internet in the past 20-plus years and concludes that the current operation of the section 512 safe harbor system is unbalanced, with copyright owners bearing too much of the burden to deter piracy<

Appellate Court Decides Important Copyright Case In Favor Of Photographers

By Nancy e. Wolff | 945 Words | Posted 6/2/2020 | Comments
The Appellate Court of the Second Circuit in New York has decided an important important case for photographers regarding registrations and “Look Back” periods for copyright damages (Sohm v. Scholastic Inc., No. 18-2110, 2020 WL 2375056 (2d Cir. May 12, 2020). The court upheld the validity of the copyright registration procedure utilized by photography licensing agencies like Corbis Corporation, and held that courts may award copyright damages only for the three-year period preceding commencement of the action.

Another Gutting Of Copyright Protection For Photographers

By Jim Pickerell | 336 Words | Posted 3/27/2020 | Comments
The U.S. Supreme Court says sovereign immunity protects state governments from copyright infringement lawsuits and has decided that it is OK for U.S. states to grab any photo they can find and use it without notifying or compensating the creator. The specific case that brought the matter to the nation’s highest court was filed by Rick Allen, an independent film producer and director in Fayetteville, North Carolina, who in the 1990s filmed the salvaging of the Queen Anne's Revenge, the flagship of the pirate Blackbeard, that had run aground at Beaufort, North Carolina in 1718.

Copyright Office Changes Due To Coronavirus

By Jim Pickerell | 264 Words | Posted 3/20/2020 | Comments
This week, the U.S. Copyright Office announced some changes in its special handling requirements and some additional information about the impact of the coronavirus on the copyright registration system. You can find the complete announcement here

Insurer Must Defend McGraw-Hill In Infringement Case

By Jim Pickerell | 408 Words | Posted 1/14/2020 | Comments
A New York State appeals court overturned a lower court’s ruling and held that an insurer must defend McGraw-Hill Education Inc. in underlying copyright litigation in the case of McGraw-Hill Educ., Inc. v. Ill. Nat’l Ins. Co.

Adobe Announces Plan To Authenticate Photos

By Jim Pickerell | 584 Words | Posted 11/25/2019 | Comments
Adobe has announced a plan to authenticate photos as way way of helping consumers determine if the images they see on the Internet are real or fake. How this will work hasn’t been fully spelled out, but is expected to be rolled out in “coming months” according to Chief Product Officer Scott Belsky (See the video of his presentation here.

Saving RM and Copyright

By Jim Pickerell | 1755 Words | Posted 11/13/2019 | Comments
Getty’s decision to kill RM may be an opportunity for all those agencies and individuals who want to: (1) continue to license images for higher prices based on usage and (2) enforce their claims of copyright ownership. The key will be in providing a service that will help users, not just benefit image creators.

Value Of Copyright Ownership

By Jim Pickerell | 1098 Words | Posted 11/13/2019 | Comments
With the death of RM licensing on the horizon, photographers need to consider whether there is much, if any, value in owning a copyright. Photography has become a commodity like corn or soybeans. Read this story for what the industry can maintain a value for at least some of the professional images being produced.

PicRights Expands Copyright Enforcement Network

By Jim Pickerell | 175 Words | Posted 10/25/2019 | Comments
PicRights Europe GmbH has expanded its enforcement network. To bolster their growing enforcement activities in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and the Czech Republic, PicRights has added an experienced team in Vienna, Austria. As the newest enforcement partner, PicRights Austria will augment the long-established network in major markets in Europe, North America, India, Africa, South America and the Middle East, further cementing PicRights’ dedication to wide-ranging geographical coverage of key markets around the world for its clients.

States Can Use Your Copyrighted Photos For Free

By Jim Pickerell | 1083 Words | Posted 9/11/2019 | Comments
Did you know that U.S. States can sometimes use your copyrighted photos for free? The case of Allen v Cooper heading to the Supreme Court in November will test this right. Rick Gell, interim Executive Director of the DMLA has interviewed the association’s  Senior Legal Counsel Nancy Wolff of CDAS to try to understand how the state of North Carolina could claim this right and why the case has gotten all the way to the Supreme Court.

House Judiciary Committee Passes CASE Act

By Jim Pickerell | 255 Words | Posted 9/11/2019 | Comments
On September 10th the House Judiciary Committee unanimously passed by voice vote the Manager's Amendment to H.R. 2426, the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2019 (CASE Act). This legislation will provide U.S. creators with a viable means for defending their copyrighted works through the creation of a small claims tribunal within the U.S. Copyright Office.

Protecting Your Copyright

By Jim Pickerell | 1327 Words | Posted 8/13/2019 | Comments
Many U.S. photographers are hoping the CASE Act, a new law working its way through Congress, will help them protect their copyright and make it easier for them to go after infringers. The law will establish a Copyright Claims Board (CCB), a Small Claims court and eliminate the need to use the expensive Federal Court system to pursue infringers. Photography trade associations – ASMP, PPA, DMLA, NPPA, APA, NANPA – and other members of the Copyright Alliance have been seeking this change for over a decade.

Chasing Infringements

By Jim Pickerell | 1217 Words | Posted 8/9/2019 | Comments
Internet search technology has enabled professional photographers to discover more and more uses of their images. As a result, an increasing number of photographers are pursuing the users for compensation. Given how the system works customers who have legitimately licensed rights to use images are often required to do extra work to prove they did the right thing in the first place. This is not making these good stock agency customers happy. Some stock agencies fear that this extra hassle may drive some of their best paying customers to turn to more FREE images rather than bother with paid sources.

Small Claims May Not Save Photographers

By Jim Pickerell | 141 Words | Posted 8/9/2019 | Comments
The CASE Act which will establish a Small Claims system that targets copyright abuse is working its way through Congress. The bill has finally been passed in the House and is awaiting action in the Senate. Photographers interested in understanding some of the downsides of this bill should read this FREE Story.

Risks Of Using Free Images

By Jim Pickerell | 552 Words | Posted 7/26/2019 | Comments
Free Images may not always be FREE. There are not only big legal risks for the users, but also potential time demands on users, creators and lawyers. Most users of Free images don’t recognize the risks they may be taking. One of the big questions for professional photographers is how to help those looking for free images to understand these risks.

Selling Images Via The Internet

By Jim Pickerell | 766 Words | Posted 7/26/2019 | Comments
The Internet is a great place for selling things if the finished product must be delivered by FedEx or UPS. But if you’re trying to sell is a digital version of what you’re showing, then long range your business model doesn’t have much future. It’s too easy to “steal,” “appropriate” or whatever you want to call it.

Photo Infringers Are Mobilizing

By Jim Pickerell | 314 Words | Posted 7/15/2019 | Comments
All the people who love to grab photos they find on the Internet and use them however they please are now mobilizing to stop the U.S. Congress from passing the CASE Act that would establish a small claims court system. These millions of photo users believe they should not be restricted in any way from doing whatever they want with the property of others. Photographers need to ACT NOW.

Logos And Trademarks

By Jim Pickerell | 894 Words | Posted 6/24/2019 | Comments
Robert Kneschke’s story on Unsplash last week got me thinking about trademarks and logos. Professional photographers tell me that the inspectors for the major stock agencies – Getty, Shutterstock, AdobeStock and iStock – are increasingly rejecting photos with any identifying brand marks for fear of legal action by the brands.

Help Push Small Claims Bill Through Congress

By Jim Pickerell | 291 Words | Posted 6/20/2019 | Comments
The Copyright Alliance needs all image creators to help push the CASE Act – the bill to create a copyright small claims court for creators and small business owners – through Congress. On May 1, the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act (CASE Act) of 2019 (H.R. 2426 and S. 1273) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate.

Government Organizations Can Grab Photos Without Paying

By Jim Pickerell | 454 Words | Posted 6/19/2019 | Comments
The Texas Appeals court has ruled that the state can infringe upon copyright without risking punishment under the state’s or federal government’s “takings” clause. More than two years ago, photographer Jim Olive discovered that his aerial photo of the Houston skyline (titled “The Cityscape”) was being used by the University of Houston, a public university, on its website to promote its C.T. Bauer College of Business without requesting permission or making payment.