We see it time and time again; a company or an individual sees an image online that they like, so they take it and profit from it without consent from the photographer. This scenario plays out over and over again each and every day, but previous laws in the United States of America have made it virtually impossible for an individual to fight for compensation, even if the image was copyrighted. Thanks to the PPA (Professional Photographers of America) and a coalition of visual arts groups, a reform is coming that will finally favor photographers and other small creators.
A report on The Dead Pixel Society talks about the new reform, which is known as CASE (Copyright Alternative in Small Claims Enforcement Act ). For many,CASE will finally make going after someone who takes your work without permission a financially viable option. As noted in the article, the average small creator makes just $35,000 a year. Before the new reform, launching an assault on anybody who has taken your work would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. For many, the hassle, the headache, and the financial burden just wasn’t worth it. But now things will change for the better, and honestly it’s about time.
The United States has lagged behind the rest of the world when it comes to copyright laws for many years. It has taken the PPA, and the coalition of visual arts groups more than 10 years of lobbying on Captiol Hill to show that current copyright laws do not work for everyone. Granted, nobody could have foreseen the major impact that social media would have on photography, nor could anyone have seen how quickly these new platforms would change how we share our content. But still, many other nations around the world quickly changed their laws so that small creators and their work would be protected from those who look to profit from images shared on social platforms and other websites.
Fortunately, it seems as though the tide is finally turning in favor of photographers and other small creators. The CASE act will make it possible for professional photographers to take advantage of the U.S. copyright system for the first time. Yes, for the first time we can fight to be paid for the work we produce without ruining ourselves financially. The first time!! Let that sink in for a while, and let the anger rightly build up inside of you. This is just the start. 2019 is absolutely the year that we should come together to fight for our copyrights and for better copyright laws.
Isn’t it crazy that it’s 2019 and this is only just being addressed? It is absolutely about time that we should have our voices heard, and that our work should be always considered our work. It’s about time that we should be paid for our images by the multi-million dollar corporations and individuals who think they are sometimes above the law. We recently talked about how we should start calling photo theft “Piracy of Images”. After all, piracy is the term that companies have been using for years now; why shouldn’t we claim the same? With there being so many copyright grabs out there these days that are disguised as photography competitions, and with so many individuals and companies who choose to use their financial power to steal from (us as they know we can’t afford to fight them in court), the news of CASE will hopefully be a wake up call to them to stop their practices.
We all have to do our part going forward, and we have to show that we will not be taken advantage of anymore. We deserve to be compensated for our work, and it’s time that we stand up for ourselves once and for all. Lets make sure that the work the PPA and the visual arts coalition have done over the last decade does not go to waste. Educate yourself about the copyright laws, and learn how to protect yourself and your work. We owe it to ourselves.