By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator
Since this article comes out on Labor Day, it’s probably fitting that it addresses copyright issues. How cases like these are resolved determines, at least to some extent, how much of the fruit of your labors you can retain. Here are three copyright examples to keep your eye on.
CASE Act update
NANPA’s advocacy team, led by Jane Halperin and Sean Fitzgerald, and membership in the Copyright Alliance and Coalition of Visual Artists gives nature photographers a voice in copyright and intellectual property discussions that influence law and policy. Our combined voices were instrumental in getting the Copyright Alternative Small Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act passed and signed into law at the end of 2020. How that act is implemented over the coming months will be as important as some of the court cases affecting copyright today.
The CASE Act establishes a small claims process for copyright infringement conducted through the Copyright Claims Board, a three judge panel within the Copyright Office. The Copyright Office must create the policies and procedures under which the CCB will operate. To that end, the Copyright Office issued a Notice of Proposed Rule Making in April and invited public comment. Groups like the Copyright Alliance raised objections and made suggestions to make the rules more clear, simple, and fair for copyright holders. In August, the Copyright Office published a final rule, incorporating many of the Copyright Alliance’s suggestions. This is another major step towards implementing the CASE Act and giving copyright holders a faster, easier, and less expensive way of protecting their rights.
In a case before a federal court in New York, Sinclair Broadcasting embedded a video filmed by conservation photographer and filmmaker Paul Nicklin on websites of Sinclair television stations. Nicklin had posted the video (of a starving polar bear) to his Instagram and Facebook accounts, from where it had gone viral and generated a lot of attention. Sinclair embedded his video into a story about it going viral, but did not attempt to contact Nicklen or to secure permission from him. Nicklin sued.
Sinclair moved to dismiss the case on the grounds that they only embedded the video and did not store a copy on their servers. Previously, a court had ruled in a very controversial decision, that embedding was legal so long as the content was not stored on the servers of the publishing organization. The Manhattan judge became the second judge to reject the server claim and allowed the case to move forward.
The embedding issue is far from settled. NANPA’s advocacy team will continue to follow court decisions and keep you informed.
And happy Labor Day!
Frank Gallagher is a landscape and nature photographer based in the Washington, DC, area who specializes in providing a wide range of photograph services to nonprofit organizations. He manages NANPA’s blog.