Continuing Copyright Confusion

copyright symbol
“Copyright”, image by Pete Linforth, Pixabay license.

By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator

This year has been a real roller coaster ride. From COVID-19 to a presidential election and from wildfires to hurricanes, we’ve been put through the wringer. It’s been a wild year for copyright decisions, too, with the pendulum swinging from decisions that horrified photographers to ones that reaffirmed the rights of visual artists.

First, in Sinclair v. Ziff Davis, a court ruled that an online publisher could take a photographer’s work from Instagram and republish the photos without paying or obtaining permission because of Instagram’s Terms of Use. Sean Fitzgerald describe the impact of that decision here.

Then, Instagram changed its Terms of Use to expressly state that it does not give API users a license to embed third-party content. That prompted a judge to deny a motion to dismiss a copyright complaint brought by photographer Elliot McGucken against Newsweek. The publication had claimed the right to reproduce McGucken’s photo because he had posted it on Instagram. See more here and here.

Newsweek is now appealing. In light of the McGucken v. Newsweek ruling and Instagram’s clarification of its ToU, the court that heard the Sinclair v. Ziff Davis case has now reinstated Sinclair’s suit.

Recently, in Mango v. Buzzfeed, an appeals court ruled that photographer Gregory Mango was due statutory damages for copyright infringement and violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by Buzzfeed. The online publisher had used a photo by Mango that had originally appeared, with attribution, in the New York Post. Buzzfeed used the same photo, without permission and without crediting the photographer. Read more here.

Finally, a photographer and model filed a copyright infringement suit against the automobile company Volvo. The photographer and model had done a photo shoot with a Volvo S60. The photographer had posted some of the shots to his Instagram account and used the tag #volvo. Volvo asked for permission to use the photos without compensation, which the photographer refused. Months later, the photographer and model were surprised to see their photos in Volvo advertising and sued. The car company is asking the court to dismiss the case by claiming that not only do they have a right to use the photos as a sublicensee of Instagram, in spite of Instagram saying that’s not true (see McGucken v. Newsweek above), but also that, because the photographer set his account to “public” and tagged Volvo, he automatically granted Volvo the right to reuse his photos. Additionally, Volvo claims Behance’s Terms of Use allow the company to also use photos posted there without compensation. Read more about this case here.

NANPA continues to monitor cases involving photographers’ rights, has been part of amicus briefs in critical court cases, and plays an active role in the Copyright Coalition, as well as the Coalition of Visual Artists. NANPA joined with other arts groups in a successful campaign to convince Instagram to change its Terms of Use, and is pushing Instagram to give photographers an option to say whether we allow third party embeds without additional permission.

NANPA also advocates for the CASE Act and modernizing copyright law. See more about all that NANPA does to protect and enhance photographers’ intellectual property rights or tell us your copyright story here.

Wow!

Photo of members of NANPA's board, St. Louis, 2019.
August 17, 2019. St. Louis, Hampton Inn. NANPA board meeting.

By Tom Haxby, NANPA President

Wow! It was quite the shock to me a little over a year ago when I was approached about being nominated to be the next president of NANPA. Skip forward almost one year after being elected as president and the time has just flown by. The best part about it has been the opportunity to become more involved with NANPA and getting to know many of the people who make NANPA a special community of and for nature photography. So, before I pass the gavel to our incoming president, Dawn Wilson, I want to thank all who have helped NANPA in the last year and continue to do so.  This may feel like a going away note, but really I will be on the board for another year, and who knows after that.

Continue reading

Membership Has Benefits Beyond the Obvious

Photo of a bird in a tree by Tom Haxby.
Photo by Tom Haxby.

By NANPA President Tom Haxby

Fellow board member Lisa Langell recently shared with me a member survey from another photography organization which had been used to assess their member benefits and services. Serendipity, perhaps, because lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the benefits of being a NANPA member.

More than Pretty Pictures

When I joined NANPA just over 10 years ago, I did so because I was interested in nature photography and believed membership could help me improve my photographs. But I discovered that NANPA is about more than just taking better nature photos.

At the NANPA Summit in Jacksonville in 2017, and again in Las Vegas in 2019, I learned that nature photography is about more than just pretty pictures. It’s also about using photos to affect change.

In Jacksonville, Clyde Butcher spoke about efforts to save Florida’s natural areas and shared his own conservation work. His presentation was complemented by a video, created by NANPA’s Summit College Photography Scholarship Program participants, about attempts to connect these areas to create greenway corridors.

Several of the presentations in Las Vegas on conservation challenges in the Arctic were really eye-opening. Other Summit presenters like Clay Bolt and Andrew Snyder inspired me with their work on rare, threatened and endangered species through the Meet Your Neighbours technique. Because of them, I now have my own Meet Your Neighbours setup. 

I’ve seen how conservation photography can make a difference. Want to get started? NANPA’s recently-published Conservation Handbook is available to anyone interested in learning how. Find it in the Members’ Area of the NANPA website or click below.

Cover of the NANPA Conservation Photography Handbook

Ethics and Advocacy

Speaking of handbooks, we currently have available on our website a guide to the Principles of Ethical Field Practices. But that is just the beginning! NANPA has undertaken a much more extensive project to create a handbook on the ethics of nature photography. Your membership helps support large undertakings such as this that will allow NANPA to take a leadership role in educating photographers on ethics. Quite frankly, this is very much needed as the overzealous pursuit of nature and wildlife photos threatens both scenic places and the plants and animals we love photographing. And bad behavior threatens continued access to these places by photographers.

Your membership has also helped support our work on behalf of the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2019 (CASE Act of 2019). If passed by Congress and signed into law, the CASE Act would provide photographers with the option of pursuing infringers in a small claims-type of process instead of federal district court. Read more about how the CASE Act will help photographers

Friendship and Networking

I will always remember the NANPA Regional Events that I attended in the Smokies and Upper Peninsula of Michigan—for the great images and friendships made. It will be my great pleasure to now be a regional event leader, myself, in the Smokies this spring with Hank Erdmann. NANPA has many more Regional Events scheduled for all levels of photographers in various parts of the country.

There are larger events, too, that offer many of the same benefits but on a bigger scale. Just around the corner is our second Nature Photography Celebration in Asheville, NC, April 19-21. These Celebrations provide opportunities for shooting, interaction with vendors, learning, networking and more. Asheville is a great place to be in April.

Travel and Equipment Insurance

As I move about the country with my photo gear in airports, cars, and on location, I am thankful that I have insurance on my photography equipment underwritten by Chubb in association with NANPA. You can find information about this and all the other NANPA member benefits in the Members’ Area of the website.

And Taking Better Pictures, Too

All that being said, my membership has also helped me improve my nature photos, just as I originally anticipated when I joined.

During my time with NANPA, I have entered the Showcase Competition, and I have been fortunate to have a few photos published in Expressions. (It’s a great source of ideas and inspiration so order your copy now!) This gave me confidence that I could get great images because, the reality is, if you want to be taken seriously as a nature photographer, quality matters.

I have attended many memorable webinars, both live and recorded. These sessions are free for members and a great way to learn or refresh photography skills. Best of all, you can participate at your own convenience, from wherever you are. Our next webinar, sponsored by Tamron on February 13 is Getting the Most from Your Long Lens with Bob Coates. Sign up or watch a recording of a previous webinar in the Members’ Area.

Sandhill Cranes flying together © Bob Coates.
Sandhill Cranes © Bob Coates.

Portfolio reviews, offered at each Summit hosted in odd-numbered years, provide another opportunity for learning from industry professionals including but not limited to agents and editors. We are currently working on logistics for our next Summit in Tucson in 2021, so stayed tuned for that.

Blog articles are yet another source of education and inspiration, and I especially enjoyed the recent article by Bill Palmer on Chasing Spring Warblers. There will be plenty of warblers—and photographers—at this year’s Biggest Week in Birding Festival at Magee Marsh in Ohio at which, by the way, you can find the NANPA booth. Note that our blog is separate from our regular member and non-member news lists, so if you do not already get NANPA blog posts in your email, you can subscribe on the right hand side of any of them (including this one).

Perhaps you might be interested in submitting a blog post too. What a great chance to expose your photos (pun intended) and stories to fellow NANPA members. Just send a note to publications@nanpa.org. That’s what we mean when we talk about “sharing” within NANPA. Everyone is both a teacher and student here.

That’s true regardless of age. As I highlighted in last month’s blog post, young nature photographers are becoming members and getting opportunities through NANPA’s high school and college scholarship programs, both of which are made possible in part due to your support of the NANPA Foundation. By the way, the Foundation’s Online Auction has some great items up for bidding starting February 3rd.  All proceeds go towards funding Foundation programs.

What Will You Do?

Gordon Illg has been known to tell me that I ramble, so I need to wrap up. But there really is a lot going on at NANPA, and I hope that you will take advantage of the opportunities. We are working hard to make NANPA a place for nature photographers to achieve all of their nature photography dreams. What will you do this year to help you reach yours?

Exclusive opportunity for NANPA members

Laptop on desk showing NANPA website

NANPA members are encouraged to share stories, tips, and how-to articles on our blog. Not as gifted at writing as you are photography? No problem. We can help you craft a post.

Nature Photographers Support the CASE Act

Photo of law  books.
Image by witwiccan, copyright cleared under license from Pixabay.

Story by Sean Fitzgerald

NANPA has worked long and hard to get Congress to pass the CASE Act (Copyright Alternative Small Claims Enforcement Act), which would provide photographers with the option of pursuing infringers in a small claims-type of process instead of federal district court.  You can read more about how the CASE Act will help photographers here: http://www.nanpa.org/advocacy/intellectual-property/case-act/

The good news is that the CASE Act has picked up bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. It just passed through committee in the Senate and will soon come before the House Judiciary Committee. If it passes there, the Act will proceed to a final vote in both chambers. 

In other words, this might actually happen! 

The CASE Act, HR 2426.
The CASE Act, HR 2426.

Is it a done deal? Nope. Unfortunately the so- called protectors of an “open internet” have awoken. Backed with cash from Silicon Valley, an army of lobbyists, and a fear-mongering scare campaign they have descended on Washington D.C. to righteously proclaim that the CASE Act is just an evil plot to destroy the internet by unleashing copyright trolls on unsuspecting innocents. They screech that the “sky is falling” because photographers like you and me want to use it to go after innocent grandmothers who repost social media memes on their Facebook pages.  

As we say in Texas, “I s#*t you not.”

Here is where you come in. Your voice will help drown out the nay-sayers and push this bill over the finish line. Over the next few weeks, NANPA is joining the “50 States in 20 Days” campaign to send specific messages to legislators in each state on a single, specific day. Be on the lookout for emails with specific instructions for the messages we would like you to send. Contacting your representatives will only take a few minutes, but will help make a huge difference.

WE CAN DO THIS!

How Big a Problem Is Copyright Infringement?

A German company looks at the problem of image theft and copyright violation in a new report.

A German company looks at the problem of image theft and copyright violation in a new report.

It comes as no surprise to photographers that large numbers of images are “stolen” each day on the Internet.  Photos are copied and pasted by ordinary folks who don’t know any better.  And images are taken and used by people and businesses that know or ought to know that they are violating someone’s copyright.  But just how big a problem is this?

Continue reading

Take Action NOW to Help Make Copyright Small Claims Tribunal Happen

NANPA is working hard with other photography and visual arts associations and the Copyright Alliance to establish a copyright “small claims” tribunal. This court would provide artists and photographers with an easier and cheaper way to protect their copyright without the massive expense of a typical federal court claim. It is a game-changer, if we can get it passed.

That combined effort resulted in the introduction of HR 3945, The CASE Act (Copyright Alternative in Enforcement Act), which is making its way through Congress now. We have gathered many supporters for the CASE Act, but its passage is still not assured. The CASE Act is hitting a crucial junction in the legislative process NOW and we need your help.
NANPA’s representative in on Capital Hill today to help push the bill over this next hurdle, but we need individual constituents to press their congressional representatives as well. Fortunately, it is also easy to do.

Just go to www.copyrightdefense.com/action and you can send a letter to your Congressional representative and Senators in support of the CASE Act. You can get it done in less than 2 minutes. If you have time to give your representative a call or visit them in their office, that is even better!

It has been a grueling process to get to this point, and if we can’t push it over the line now, we may never get another chance. Your help can truly make the difference!

Copyright-Alternative-Small-Claims-Enforcement-Act-10-4-17

#smallclaims #caseact #copyrightsmallclaims #copyrightdefense

Take Action NOW to Help Make Copyright Small Claims Tribunal Happen

 

NANPA has been working with other photography and visual arts associations and the Copyright Alliance to establish a copyright “small claims” tribunal. This court would provide artists and photographers with an easier and cheaper way to protect their copyright without the massive expense of a typical federal court claim. It is a game-changer, if we can get it passed.

Continue reading

Your Support is Needed

Why NANPA is supporting a copyright small claims tribunal and why you should too

by Jane Halperin, NANPA Advocacy Committee

Let’s face it, the current U.S. copyright system does not work for the majority of photographers who  operate as individuals or small business owners for a variety of reasons, including the complexity of registration. But perhaps the most significant reason is due to the inability of photographers whose work product is not low volume/ high value to enforce their ownership rights against infringers.

Continue reading

From the Executive Director- Susan Day

Susan Day- NANPA Executive Director

Do you register your photos with the US. Copyright Office? Most photographers don’t, which is a shame, because if your work is ever used without your permission, your chances of compensation are reduced—or unlikely—for unregistered work. One of the main reasons photographers and artists don’t register their images is because it’s a lot of work and takes a lot of time.

NANPA has been involved with a visual artists’ coalition for approximately 20 years, and two of their ongoing goals have been streamlining the copyright registration process and in recent years, developing a process for small claims filing for copyright violations. Continue reading

NANPA Goes to Washington: Copyright Small Claims Update

By Jane Halperin and Sean Fitzgerald

NANPA is part of, a group of visual arts associations that have been working for years to modernize the copyright system for photographers and develop a small claims process that makes it easier and affordable to enforce copyright infringements. Jane Halperin, Chair of the NANPA Advocacy  Committee, and Sean Fitzgerald attend weekly teleconference meetings with the Visual Association members and their legal counsel to discuss and work on plans to push these plans forward. Last month, we all met in Washington DC to meet with various Congresspersons, their staff, and others on Capitol Hill.

Creative Rights Caucus presentation to Congress on copyright for small creators, with slide showing NANPA logo, Washington D.C. USA.

Creative Rights Caucus presentation to Congress on copyright for small creators, with slide showing NANPA logo, Washington D.C. USA.

Continue reading