by Nancy Wolff, DMLA Counsel
2017 is off to a rapid start for the DMLA legal committee and team. In December DMLA, along with other visual artist associations, (American Photographic Artists, American Society of Media Photographers, Graphic Artists Guild, National Press Photographers Association, North American Nature Photography Association and Professional Photographers of America) attended the annual face to face meeting of visual artists’ associations to set the course of collaborative action for the coming year. This year’s meeting was in DC, and the changes at the Copyright Office; the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee’s Reform of the Copyright Office together with recent copyright small claims bills were priority topics.
In addition to strategizing on how to approach the above issues, we had a training session on lobbying, a meeting with Keith Kupferschmid, the CEO of the Copyright Alliance on participating in a search for a new register at the Copyright Office; discussions on whether the Copyright Office should move out of the Library of Congress; and a guest speaker, Rob Kasunic, Associate Register of Copyrights and Directors of Registration Practice Policy & Practice at the US Copyright Office. Specifically, Rob discussed a recently published notice of proposed rulemaking regarding group registration of photographs that will impact how published and unpublished photographs are registered as well as the database registrations employed by many DMLA members.
The day was full with many open items to work on in 2017, with several responses to requests for comments from the Copyright Office and the legislature due by the end of this January. This annual meeting is in addition to nearly weekly meetings DMLA participates in with these associations. Since last year when we anticipated proposed copyright small claims legislation, the associations have been in frequent communication to work swiftly and cohesively when the need arises. A lesson learned from the proposed Orphan Works legislation nearly ten years ago was that the visual artists’ community needs to speak with as unified a voice as possible with Congress and the Copyright Office if our message is to be heard and considered. DMLA represents the only association of licensing entities and our perspective is important in highlighting the economic importance of licensing and the need for a robust copyright system. The Legal Committee will be sending requests for action items on pending responses due this month so look out for updates and please participate as we need to hear from all members on these important issues!