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© Stanley Leary
 

July 14, 2016 – In the wake of its release of a white paper setting out the key components of a copyright small claims bill, a coalition of visual artist groups welcomes the attention that this critical issue is now garnering on Capitol Hill. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries’s (D-NY) introduction, along with original cosponsor, Tom Marino (R-PA), of a bill, H.R. 5757 establishing a small claims board and the forthcoming introduction by Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) of her own version of small claims legislation establishing a small claims tribunal in the Copyright Office, are a welcomed next step in a process that will hopefully result in much-needed legislative relief for photographers, photojournalists, videographers, illustrators, graphic designers, and other visual artists and their licensing representatives. These artists are currently squeezed out of the legal system by the high cost of bringing suit in federal court and have seen their licensing revenues decimated in recent years by the proliferation of copyright infringement, particularly in the online context.

The coalition looks forward to working with Representatives Jeffries, Marino, Chu and all members of Congress to correct this inequity in America’s copyright system.

Earlier this year, the coalition, which includes the American Photographic Artists (APA), American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), Digital Media Licensing Association (DMLA), Graphic Artists Guild (GAG), National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) and Professional Photographers of America (PPA), set forth recommendations with regard to key components in any forthcoming congressional small claims legislation.

Coalition members believe small claims reform to be their top legislative priority and call upon Congress to enact legislation that provides visual artists and other small creators with a viable, affordable alternative to prosecuting copyright infringement in federal court—a prohibitively expensive and little-used option by visual artists. This approach is largely consistent with the legislative recommendations set forth in the “Copyright Small Claims” report released in late 2013 by the U.S. Copyright Office which deserves much credit for its groundbreaking effort in this area.

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June 23, 2016 - The 2016 Arnold Newman Prize for New Directions in Photographic Portraiture was awarded to Sian Davey, for her series "Looking for Alice". The award was co-presented by Maine Media Workshops' Vice President of Academic Affairs, Elizabeth Greenberg, and ASMP's Executive Director,Thomas Kennedy.

The award recognizes photographers who are creating work in the spirit of Arnold Newman's legendary photographic portraiture with the winner of the award receiving a $15,000 cash prize. The Arnold Newman Prize is funded by the Arnold and Augusta Newman Foundation, with support from the American Society of Media Photographers, Maine Media Workshops, and PDN.

For more information about Sian Davey, recipient of the 2016 Arnold Newman Prize, and the project that earned her the award, please click here.

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June 22, 2016 - Today, I am excited to announce the launching of a new Small Claims Report Section, on the ASMP website dedicated exclusively to the ongoing effort by ASMP and other visual artists’ groups to achieve our community’s top legislative priority in Congress: the enactment of legislation that creates a small claims court as an alternative to federal court litigation that routinely proves too costly and burdensome for photographers, as well as illustrators, graphic artists and other visual artists. The new section will chronicle ASMP’s efforts to convince Congress to adopt an alternative, straight-forward, cost-effective system in which our members and others can seek relief for the type of copyright infringements that have become all too common today—especially in the online environment.

The launching of this new section comes at a critical time. After well over a year of preparatory work by ASMP and its allies in the visual artist community—the American Photographic Artists, Digital Media Licensing Association, Graphic Artists Guild National Press Photographers Association, North American Nature Photography Association and Professional Photographers of America—we are on verge of seeing the introduction of proposals in the House of Representatives to create a small claims copyright tribunal in the United States Copyright Office. Specifically, within the next couple of weeks, not one, but two small claims bills are expected to be introduced in the House. Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), both members of the House Judiciary Committee, have announced their intention to drop in separate bills to create a small claims alternative to federal court litigation. Both bills are based in large point on the recommendations set forth by the Copyright Office in its comprehensive and well-received 2013 report entitled “Copyright Small Claims: A Report of the Register of Copyrights.”

The postings in this section will be written jointly by ASMP’s outside copyright counsel, Mike Klipper and myself. As you may know, Mike is a more than 40-year veteran of copyright legislation battles on Capitol Hill as counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, in-house legislative counsel to two major trade associations, and in private law practice. Since beginning his representation of ASMP last year, Mike has proven to be an invaluable resource to ASMP’s Capitol Hill based activities, particularly with respect to the House Judiciary Committee’s ongoing review of possible revisions to the Copyright Revision Act of 1976.

-- Tom Kennedy, Executive Director