Category Archives: Legal

DMLA Oppose MD State Law to Regulate Copyright Demand Letter

by Nancy Wolff, DMLA Legal Counsel

Sending copyright demand letters to users of images where no license is apparent has been a common practice of many DMLA members, even before images were distributed digitally. These demand letter s have been part of the copyright boot camp and form letters available to members to contact users and educate them about copyright misuse and to seek compensation if the images are not licensed.

On January 11, Maryland State Senator Edward Reilly (R) introduced a bill, HR 65 before the state legislature to regulate copyright demand letters. The bill is aimed at preventing copyright owners from “making certain assertions of copyright infringement in bad faith” and stipulates that a court may consider, among other factors, the absence of a certificate of copyright registration accompanying the letter as evidence of bad faith. The proposed remedies include the possibility of courts costs, attorney’s fees, and treble damages, including fees up to $50,000. On January 25, 2017 the Maryland State Senate Finance Committee held hearing on the bill. DMLA; Getty Images, the Copyright Alliance, MPAA, Comcast, BMI Music and other s representing creators and owners of content testified at the hearing as to the problems and burdens imposed by such a bill and provided written opposition. A copy of DMLA’s letter to the finance committee opposing the bill is [here]. The associations representing all the visual artists unanimously joined in the opposition as it would subject all copyright owner to unfair burdens in seeking compensation for infringements and violate federal copyright law. Joining our letter were the Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), Professional Photographers of America (PPA), North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA), American Photographic Artists (APA), the Graphic Artist Guild (GAG) and Shaftel & Schmelzer.

Last week we learned that the Maryland Senate Finance Committee was not going to vote on the bill and as to not embarrass the member of the Finance Committee who had introduced the bill. Thanks to the Copyright Alliance for alerting us to so promptly so we could respond so quickly and for Getty Images for attending and speaking directly with Senator Reilly before the hearing. The entire content community mobilized to avoid a very problematic state bill. We will need to stay alert for other state legislatures who may feel the need to protect their citizens if complaints arise over copyright enforcement. Copyright is very different from patents and there is a push to stem what is known as patent trolling. We need to avoid being swept into the same category of bad actors. . The underlying cause in this bill seemed to be a lack of understanding as how images are licensed and the value of a rights managed image.

Response to Copyright Office on Group Registration of Photographs

DMLA together with various other visual arts associations (what we are loosely referring to a Coalition of Visual Artists –DMLA, APA, ASMP, GAG, NPPA, NANPA, and PPA) filed a joint response to a proposed rulemaking by the Copyright Office on Group Registration of Photographs.

The proposal seeks to establish new online registration procedures for groups of unpublished as well as published photographs. The proposal was quite in-depth, including an extensive history of group registration of photographs regulations and the requirements for a new proposed system. In general the coalition was in favor of improving the electronic registration process for registration of all photographs, but had some recommendations for the Copyright Office on as to how to improve the proposed system. Read more here.

GROUP REGISTRATION OF PHOTOGRAPHS

DMLA together with various other visual arts associations (what we are loosely referring to a Coalition of Visual Artists –DMLA, APA, ASMP, GAG, NPPA, NANPA, and PPA) filed a joint response to a proposed rulemaking by the Copyright Office on Group Registration of Photographs.

The proposal seeks to establish new online registration procedures for groups of unpublished as well as published photographs. The proposal was quite in-depth, including an extensive history of group registration of photographs regulations and the requirements for a new proposed system. In general the coalition was in favor of improving the electronic registration process for registration of all photographs, but had some recommendations for the Copyright Office on as to how to improve the proposed system.

Universally, everyone agreed that the arbitrary limitation of 750 images per registration would be burdensome to visual artists and would discourage registration. This limit would be unworkable for many photographers who register all the works in an assignment in one application, and is much lower than the number of images submitted by many members of DMLA when submitting database registration of images uploaded to websites. In addition, the Copyright Office proposal specifically would discourage this database registration in favor of the group registration of unpublished and published photographs regimes. Database registrations were specifically crafted by the Copyright Office at the request of DMLA to assist DMLA members register photographs on behalf of contributors before ingesting them into their database for licensing on the web based platforms. The DMLA’s legal committee, and in particular Dan Pollack, Masterfile’s attorney assisted in responding to that aspect of the proposed rulemaking and expressed DMLA’s concern as this registration has been a key factor in many successful enforcement programs to deter infringements and encourage licensing.

The Coalition also urged that the provision to permit group registration of unpublished photographs and published photographs be expanded to include all forms of visual art, regardless of format, whether photographs, illustration or otherwise.

Other recommendations related to improving the application process to be compatible with typical visual artists’ workflows and promoting the use of APIs that may be developed to allow the seamless registration of photographs and visual artworks, and that both published and unpublished photographs can be registered at the same time.

The joint response was a result of corporation of all the associations and was quite extensive. A copy of the full response can be found here (you’ll have to scroll down to Amicus Briefs and Notices of Inquiries). This is a great example of the joint efforts of the various visual art association coming together with one voice. The Copyright Alliance also adopted the position set out in the coalition of visual artists’ response to the proposed rulemaking as well.

Coalition of Visual Artists Respond to House Judiciary Committee on U.S. Copyright Office Reform

On January 30, 2017 DMLA Digital Media Licensing Association) joined with the other members of a Coalition of Visual Artists (APA, ASMP, GAG, NPPA, NANPA, and PPA) in a joint response to the House Judiciary Committee with comments to the first proposal by Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers “Reform of the U.S. Copyright Office.”

After months of hard work to reach consensus and a united voice, our comments, entitled “Creating a USCO Capable of Succeeding in A Changing World”, begins “Collectively, all members of the signatory associations depend on effective copyright protection and enforcement for their livelihood.”

Read all about it here with a link to the full comments.

COMMENTS ON THE REFORM OF U.S. COPYRIGHT OFFICE

On January 30, 2017 DMLA joined with the other members of a Coalition of Visual Artists (APA, ASMP, GAG, NPPA, NANPA, and PPA) in a joint response to the House Judiciary Committee with comments to the first proposal by Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers “Reform of the U.S. Copyright Office.”

After months of hard work to reach consensus and a united voice, our comments, entitled “Creating a USCO Capable of Succeeding in A Changing World”, begins “Collectively, all members of the signatory associations depend on effective copyright protection and enforcement for their livelihood.” To ensure that happening we continue “We join with the Judiciary Committee’s call for greater autonomy for the Copyright Office. Regardless of whether the Office remains an independent agency housed in the Library of Congress, or an independent agency under the Legislative Branch with no connection to the Library of Congress, history has demonstrated that it is essential that it have autonomy over the its budget and its technology needs as well as its operational procedures (staffing, fees, structure, etc.).

The comments of the coalition also address the issue of the Register of Copyrights:
“We further support the selection of the Register of Copyrights as a Presidential appointee. If the judiciary committee decides to pursue this approach, we urge the Congress to move with great alacrity in passing the necessary legislation and respectfully urge the Librarian to refrain from appointing a new Register and instead await such legislative action. We fear that otherwise, many qualified candidates may not be willing to take the position of Register under existing procedures, uncertain whether that their appointment may be just months long.”
The Small Claims System Hosted by the United States Copyright Office” is also addressed “For the members of the visual arts community the overriding purpose of a copyright small claims proposal is narrow and straightforward: to end a longstanding inequity in our copyright system and finally provide photographers, illustrators, graphic artists, other visual artists and their licensing representatives with a fair, cost-effective and streamlined venue in which they can seek relief for relatively modest copyright infringement claims.
Under current law, too many legitimate copyright claimants are unable to pursue a copyright infringement action in federal court. This is due primarily to the prohibitive cost of retaining counsel and maintaining the litigation for some of these high volume, relatively low value claims brought by visual artists—a situation exacerbated by the fact that “they are often opposed by large corporations with limitless resources and the resolve to complicate and protract a case in hopes that the plaintiff runs out of patience, money or both.”

A full copy of the Coalition of Visual Artists comments can be found here. (You will need to scroll down to Amicus Briefs and Notices of Inquiries)

 

Important Section 512 Survey

DMLA has been actively participating in a study initiated by the Copyright Office on the impact and effectiveness of the Digital Millennial Copyright Act (DMCA) safe harbor provisions contained in Section 512 of the Copyright Act. The safe harbor offers qualified Internet Service Providers (ISPs) immunity from monetary damages for hosting infringing content if the ISP expeditiously removes the content after receiving a proper notice. DMLA has provided responses to past Notices of Inquiries and attended round table hearings on this subject. The Copyright Office is now seeking additional comments and is specifically inviting parties to submit empirical research.

As this is such an important issue, DMLA plans to respond and has adapted for DMLA members and their contributors an online survey prepared by the Copyright Alliance for small creators to determine if this “notice and take down” procedure of the safe harbor is being used, how difficult it is to use, and how successful it is in having infringing content removed. The survey is short and should not take long to complete. We encourage all members to participate and send it to their contributors to build a large response pool. If copyright law is to improve, we need to have hard data on what is working and what is not.

If you haven’t filled out your responses yet, please do so.  The more responses we receive the better data we will be able to supply to the Copyright office.  You will find the survey here.

Deadline for completion is February 17, 2017.

President’s Message for the New Year

It’s hard to believe that the first month of 2017 is almost over. Reflecting on the past year we’d like to thank you for your support of our trade association. Working on your behalf, we strive to deliver the best legal advocacy, educational information and networking opportunities in the digital media industry.  Read the entire message here

President’s Message January 2017

 

 

 

 

Dear DMLA Members:

It’s hard to believe that the first month of 2017 is almost over. Reflecting on the past year we’d like to thank you for your support of our trade association. Working on your behalf, we strive to deliver the best legal advocacy, educational information and networking opportunities in the digital media industry.

In addition to the name change from PACA to DMLA to better reflect the constituents of the association, we are proud of the many accomplishments that DMLA has achieved over the last few years. Some of the significant 2016 accomplishments are highlighted below.

With a new board taking over in May 2016, we have set new objectives for the next two years to further evolve our organization, broaden our membership base and cement DMLA’s relevance to the digital media licensing industry. We look forward to sharing news on our initiatives in the coming months as we build up to our 22nd Annual DMLA Conference October 22-24 back in Manhattan again at the historic New Yorker Hotel.

We truly appreciate your support and hope you recognize, as we do, the valuable role your membership plays in allowing us to continue our efforts on behalf of the industry.

We are asking you to show your continued commitment to DMLA by renewing your membership for 2017. Invoices were mailed out in December and many of you have already made your payments, which is very much appreciated. We have made it easy to pay your dues; our Monthly payment plan has been a popular option for many members and is available again this year.  Dues are payable by January 31, 2017, so please make arrangements to get them paid by then.

 Finally, from the DMLA Board and all our Committee members, we wish you all the best for 2017!

Geoff Cannon                                                                                                                                                    DMLA President

 

DMLA 2016 ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Membership

  •  Welcomed 10 new members into the Association

DMLASearch

  • Total relaunch of PACAsearch as DMLAsearch including a new website that includes photos from contributing agencies on homepage DMLAsearch.com

Connectivity

  •  Consistent communication with members this year through the use of our blog, twitter and Facebook page
  • Our 21st Annual Conference: Another outstanding conference was held in Jersey City in October. The sessions were reviewed as some of the best ever covering subjects from Doing Business in China to Advances in Visual Recognition. You can read reviews of all the sessions here, In a post-conference survey we received Very Good or Excellent marks from over 83% of our attendees.
  • Participation in Visual Connections in Chicago and New York to connect with buyers

Education

  • Webinar series continued in 2016 with “Sensitive Issues Web. You can find the audio recording here
  • Worked with DMLA member Adobe to produce and record legal videos explaining the basics of releases, fair use, issues involving outside art, graffiti and social media use of images. You will find them on our website Note – It’s a members-only section of the site so you will need your username and password to gain access.

Advocacy

  •  Maintained our presence in Washington, DC to advocate for DMLA
  • Meetings with the Copyright Office on the 108 exception, dealing with libraries and archives in July and then again in September with ASMP on suggestions for improving the current proposed Copyright Small Claims bill
  • Attended the U.S. Copyright Office’s public roundtable in New York, New York on May 2-3, 2016 in connection with the Office’s study on section 512 (involving immunity for ISP’s).
  • Attended and spoke on a panel on a day-long symposium sponsored by the US Copyright Office and the Center for Intellectual Property at George Mason Law School entitled AUTHORS, ATTRIBUTION, and INTEGRITY: Examining Moral Rights in the United States on April 18, 2016.
  • Submitted an amicus brief to the Second Circuit on behalf of the DMLA supporting Fox Network before the Second Circuit in New York in  the appeal of the decision  in Fox Network, LLC v. TVEyes, Inc., explaining that there is a robust licensing market for images and clips and that expanding fair use for an unauthorized distributor of video clips in this case could have a significant impact on the content licensing industry
  • Submitted an amicus brief on behalf of the DMLA supporting T3 Media before the Ninth Circuit in California in the appeal of the decision in Maloney v T3 Media, Inc. supporting T3 Media and the decision that held the act of offering editorial content for licensing or sale does not violate the subject’s right of publicity under state law and that the Copyright Act preempts state law where it interferes with the copyright holder’s right to exercise her exclusive rights. We explained the importance of this decision to the content licensing industry as a whole and the ability of the press and others to have access to licensable content.
  • Weekly phone meetings with the other visual arts associations on copyright small claims and other issues to help get important issues moved along by working as a cohesive group
  • Wrote Blogs on cases involving take down notices under the DMCA, removal of copyright management information and copyright damages
  • Worked successfully on Right of Publicity Act in Minnesota.

 

 

 

SURVEY ON QUALITIES & PRIORITIES OF NEW REGISTER OF COPYRIGHT

In an unprecedented move, after firing former Register Pallante, a good friend to visual artist associations, the new Librarian of Congress is seeking public comments on the next Register of Copyrights. It is extremely important that the views of the licensing community are heard. This is a massively important issue and the results will have a huge impact on our industry for the foreseeable future.

Please, please participate in the survey and share the information in Nancy’s blog with your contributors. You will find the information here.

NOTICE OF SURVEY ON QUALITIES AND PRIORITIES OF NEW REGISTER OF COPYRIGHT

From Nancy Wolff, DMLA Counsel

The new Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden, has started the process of searching for a new Register of Copyrights after removing Maria Pallante as Register on October 21, 2016. DMLA, as well as the other visual artist associations, had worked with the former Register Pallante for six years on issues involving photography and the visual arts, and most recently on copyright modernization and potential legislation for a copyright small claims court in line with recommendations from the Copyright Office.

In an unprecedented move, the Library is seeking public comment by January 31, 2017 via Survey Monkey on the qualifications for the next Register of Copyrights. The survey can be found at: https://www.research.net/r/RegisterOfCopyrightsNR

Although this crowd sourcing approach to a government appointment is highly unusual, we encourage all members to participate and to share this blog with any contributors, so the views of the licensing community and creators can be heard. From past experience we know that the tech community is very effective at organizing and sending the Copyright Office an overwhelming number of responses to copyright inquiries, and their interests in a Register would favor less copyright protection for creators.

The survey is not long and is limited to a few simple questions—namely, what qualities the Register should possess, what issues he or she should focus on, and what other factors should be considered. We encourage you to complete the survey before the January 31, 2017 deadline and distribute it widely.

DMLA has provided model responses to each of the survey’s questions based on suggestions from the Copyright Alliance. You are free to use all or some of these responses or provide your own responses. As the survey offers no background on what the responsibilities of the Register are or what public function the Copyright Office serves here is a link to background information on the role and responsibilities of the Copyright Office.

  1. What are the knowledge, skills, and abilities you believe are the most important for the Register of Copyrights?

The next Register of Copyrights must:

  • Be dedicated to both a robust copyright system and the Copyright Office;
  • Recognize the important role that creators of copyrighted works and their representatives play in promoting our nation’s financial well-being;
  • Be a lawyer with significant experience in, and a strong commitment to, the copyright law;
  • Have management experience;
  • Have a substantial background in representing the interests of creators and their representatives;
  • Possess a deep appreciation for the special challenges facing individual creators and their licensing representatives in protecting works and encouraging licensing models over infringement;
  • Possess a keen understanding of, and a strong commitment to, preserving the longstanding and statutorily-based functions of the Copyright Office, especially its advising the House and Senate Judiciary Committees on domestic and international copyright issues;
  • Be an advocate within the government for creators and their licensing representatives (as no other agency plays this role);
  • Have a vision for the Copyright Office of the future that supports the work of creators and is generally consistent with the views espoused by Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers in their November 2016 policy proposal;
  • Be committed to modernizing the IT infrastructure of the Copyright Office;
  • Have the solid support of the copyright community.
  1. What should be the top three priorities for the Register of Copyrights?
  • Continue the traditional and critical role of the Register as a forceful advocate for both a vibrant copyright system and a strong Copyright Office that works closely with the House and Senate Judiciary Committees in promoting a strong and effective copyright law.
  • A commitment to moving quickly to modernize the Copyright Office with a special focus on updating and making more affordable and simpler the registration and recordation process, and to ensure that the Copyright Office and its modernization efforts are financed by means other than just registration and recordation fees.
  • Working with Congress to achieve enactment of legislation creating a small claims process that finally provides creators and their representatives with a viable means of protecting their creative efforts and encouraging a licensing system rather than unauthorized use.
  1. Are there other factors that should be considered?

[TO BE COMPLETED AS YOU SEE FIT]

The process of selecting the next Register must not be limited to responses in a single survey, as the importance of a qualified Register to the livelihood of creators and the industries that rely on a functioning Copyright Office and system is too important to be decided by crowd sourcing, particularly as anyone can respond to a survey, regardless of their experience as a user of the Copyright Office. It is also important that the views of the leaders of House and Senate Judiciary Committees, current Copyright Office staff, copyright practitioners, and former Registers be taken into account in the selection of the next Register.