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
One of the major concerns of our members captured in the Member Results Survey is the legal protection of creative work. To address this concern, ASMP is taking steps to secure partnerships with attorneys and legal entities to provide information and advice on the legal issues facing members.
While Mike Klipper, ASMP's outside counsel, and I continue with efforts to establish a Small Claims Tribunal through the legislative process that would provide an avenue for visual creators to seek relief from illegal acts of copyright infringement, I also believe it is necessary to provide knowledge and resources on signing contracts that protect your work and rights, and prevent infringement.
To support this knowledge share, ASMP will be partnering with the George Mason University (GMU) School of Law’s Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property (CPIP). CPIP is “dedicated to the scholarly analysis of intellectual property rights and the technological, commercial, and creative innovation they facilitate. CPIP explores how strong property rights in innovation and creativity can foster successful and flourishing individual lives and national economies.”
Coordinating the partnership activities with CPIP will be Sandra Aistars, Professor of Law and the Founder of the Arts and Entertainment Advocacy Clinic at GMU, with the Clinic to be involved in providing services to ASMP members. She is also Senior Scholar and Director of Copyright Research & Policy at CPIP. ASMP will be working with Sandra on initiatives that include law clinics, webinars, FAQs, and blog postings that address such topics as negotiating solid contracts, securing copyright registrations, and other issues related to the protection of intellectual property.
In addition to the establishment of the partnership with CPIP to address legal issues of members, ASMP is also seeking to establish a nationwide forum of attorneys and legal advisors who will be able to provide legal advice on a broad range of legal concerns of members working in our membership’s diverse legal jurisdictions.
To begin creating a forum for sharing information related to current legal issues, I would like to invite you to submit questions regarding contracts or other legal issues of concern that you feel need to be addressed in protecting your creative work to firstname.lastname@example.org. These questions will be used to compile a list of general legal questions and concerns that will be reviewed by our advisors with responses posted in ASMP's Strictly Business forum, as well as addressed in other ASMP website content.
While we work to support our members in providing resources and tools for achieving business success, we know that efforts on the legal front to protect creative works are critical in achieving that success, and the present opportunity to collaborate with CPIP and others supports these efforts to create a stronger ASMP.
-- Tom Kennedy, Executive Director
On April 27, 2016 House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte announced that the Committee is entering a new critical stage of its ongoing copyright revision process. Specifically, Chairman Goodlatte stated that "[i]n the weeks ahead, we will identify areas where there is a likelihood of potential consensus and circulate outlines of potential reforms in those areas. Then we will convene stakeholders for further work on these potential reforms."
Simultaneously with Rep. Goodlatte's announcement, Mike Klipper, ASMP's outside copyright counsel, was told by the office of Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, (D-NY) that the Congressman is preparing a small claims bill for introduction and is seeking a Republican House Member to join him as an original cosponsor of the legislation. This is an especially important development coming as the House Judiciary Committee begins its next stage of the review process. Having a bipartisan bill introduced as this latest stage begins will elevate the small claims issue at a critical time in the Judiciary Committee's deliberations.
Tom Kennedy and Mike Klipper will be meeting with Rep. Jeffries' staff to discuss the components of a small claims bill as outlined in the white paper submitted by ASMP and six other visual artists groups. In concert with these other visual artists organizations, Kennedy and Klipper are in the process of developing a strategy for the upcoming stakeholder meetings. Tom Kennedy believes "these actions demonstrate the value of ASMP's advocacy efforts and why ASMP members need to stand together, and continue to effectively press the case for creating an alternative mechanism to address infringements that impair ASMP's members rights and livelihoods."
March 23, 2016: Congratulations to the newly-elected ASMP National Board members:
We are looking forward the start of their 3-year terms in June 2016.
On January 28, 2016 ASMP Excutive Director Tom Kennedy participated in a Copyright Alliance meeting where a briefing was presented on the newly released Internet Policy Task Force (IPTF) White Paper on Remixes, First Sale, and Statutory Damages. The paper, a step toward the Copyright Reform, reflects two years of work by this task force within the Department of Commerce that includes the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)
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