Two items of interest to photographers came across the wires this week. The first concerns the operation of the Copyright Claims Board, which officially opens for business later this month. This is the venue for photographers to pursue copyright claims in the manner of a small claims court, making it more affordable and realistic for creative artists to defend their intellectual property. The second item is a New York state law that just passed and could have a major positive effect on how freelance workers are treated.
Copyright Claims Board
NANPA and our fellow organizations in the Copyright Alliance have been working for years to get a copyright small claims court set up. In 2020, in part thanks to the phone calls, emails and letters Members of Congress received from people like you, the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act was passed and signed into law. The law gave the Copyright Office one year to set up the Copyright Claims Board (CCB), which will hear and rule on copyright infringement claims. The deadline was extended because of the COVID pandemic but, finally, on June 16, the CCB will open its doors and starts accepting cases.
What does that mean for you? Find out in a webinar, “Learn About the Copyright Claims Board,” presented by the Copyright Alliance, the American Society of Media Photographers, and the Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts, with two members of the US Copyright Office. The panelists walk viewers through the processes of the CCB and answer a number of questions. For anyone who makes a living, even part time, from their photography, it’s important to know how this new way to defend your creative rights will function. The Copyright Alliance is working on a guide to the CASE act that will explain all the CCB regulations while the U.S. Copyright Office is creating its own guide to CCB procedures and practices. Stay tuned for more as the CCB kicks off a new era in protecting the rights of creative artists like you.
The Freelance Isn’t Free Act (S8369/A9368) recently passed the New York State Assembly and Senate, and is on its way to the governor for her signature. The law is modeled on one that went into effect in New York City in 2017. It addresses a growing problem of freelance journalists, writers, and other creatives who were often paid months late and sometimes not at all. Among other protections, the new law requires employers to provide written contracts for freelancers and to pay by the contractually agreed-upon date or no later than 30 day after the work was finished.
While most employers of freelance workers are fair and pay in a timely fashion, it doesn’t take many bad apples to make life very difficult for creative freelancers. This law will help protect the rights of freelance workers in New York State. It would not be surprising to see other, but by no means all states, jump on board.
NANPA advocates for the rights of nature photographers from copyright and intellectual property protections to access to public lands. Learn more about what NANPA’s up to in the Advocacy section of NANPA.org.
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 and can be found online at frankgallagherphotography.com or on Instagram @frankgallagherfoto.