(A downloadable PDF)
NPPA supports strong protections for photographers’ intellectual property rights and opposes measures that would limit those rights. The NPPA also provides resources to help visual journalists protect their copyright.
We believe that any orphan works legislation to limit photographers’ rights must include specific and comprehensive requirements for an exhaustive search for the owner of a work – particularly given the fact that many photographs are transmitted without identifying metadata. Any new legislation should protect photographers’ rights to obtain full compensation, attorney’s fees, and statutory damages, for any unauthorized use of a work, and to enjoin unauthorized uses while also making the legal process for enforcing those rights more affordable and accessible. We encourage all visual journalists to register their work with the U.S Copyright Office in order to take full advantage of the protections provided by the Copyright Act.
The NPPA is presenting a series of Webinars on legal issues, narrated by NPPA Attorney Alicia Wagner Calzada, intended to help photographers in their business and in their profession. The first Webinar in the series, "Copyright" is 23 minutes long and discusses the basics of copyright, including when copyright is created, who might own the copyright to an image, basic information about fair use, public domain, copyright registration, copyright notice and things to consider in the case of an infringement.
Important Notice: These sample forms for illustrative purposes. They may not be suitable for your particular circumstances and different agreements or legal arrangements may be necessary depending on your jurisdiction. Therefore, you should not use these samples, or any part, without the advice of competent legal counsel.
Is it a work made for hire?
Sample Cease & Desist letter
NPPA's official comments to the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator from March 22, 2010.
Two Easy Steps for Using the DMCA Takedown Notice to Combat Copyright Infringement Article by attorney Carolyn Wright, explaining how to use the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) for visual journalists whose copyrights have been infringed online.
A primer on Work-for-Hire An overview by Advocacy chair and atorney Alicia Calzada
Instructions on Group Registration of Published Photographs and Group Registration of Unpublished Photographs
Guide to Copyright for Students
Guide to the DMCA for Students
The links and documents on this page are intended to be a one-stop location where you may read legal and legislative updates and other material. Please also be advised that while NPPA will do it best to updates these links you may obtain more current information elsewhere by doing a specific search.
DISCLAIMER: The following is not to be construed in any way as legal advice regarding the use of Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), small Unmanned Aerial System (sUAS) defined by the FAA as under 55 lbs., or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), all more commonly called “drones.” Your decision to operate any of these devices or aerial platforms for ANY REASON is a personal one and you will be doing so at your own risk given the current FAA position on no “commercial use” (which the FAA construes as almost any use it does not specifically authorize). You may also be liable under a variety of state laws making such use either a crime or subject to civil penalties. Should you have any questions or concerns you are strongly advised to consult with your attorney before taking any action.
Listen to NPPA General Counsel, Mickey Osterreicher, on a Today's Journalism/Works podcast focusing on drone use by the media for newsgathering
Equusearch v FAA Order
FAA New Cease and Desist
Huerta v Pirker Amicus
Integration of Drones into Domestic Airspace
FAA Model Aircraft Special Rule
News Media Coalition Comments Supporting Exemptions
NPPA Comments on FAA Interpretations
OIG Report FAA Oversight of UAS
Petition Exhibit 1
Petition Exhibit 2
UAS America v FAA
UAS Comprehensive Plan
Williams AFS Legal Interpretation
Texas Drone Statute
NPPA supports efforts to open state and federal courts, including the U.S Supreme Court, to audio-visual coverage. We strongly believe that these efforts will enhance the public’s access to the courts and further strengthen the fair administration of justice. NPPA regularly provides official comments on issues related to cameras in the courtroom, including the recently initiated pilot project by the Judicial Conference of the United States.
We believe that the vision the founding fathers had for an open and public court is not currently realized in our federal court system. All citizens are affected by federal court rulings yet a statistically insignificant number of citizens have access to those courts. Providing electronic coverage of those proceedings is the best way to provide such public access.
If you have questions about cameras in court, or need assistance with an effort to open a court system in public, please contact Mickey Osterreicher.
NPPA General Counsel Mickey Osterreicher testified today,12/3/14, before a House Judiciary subcommittee in support of H.R. 917, The Sunshine in the Courtroom Act of 2013. Osterreicher told Members of Congress that "opening courts to electronic coverage is essential for the public to see that justice is being done, to be assured of the integrity of the process, and to better understand how decisions are made." Read Osterreicher's complete testimony here. View video coverage of Mickey Osterreicher's testimony here.
March 1st, 2010: NPPA submits comments on changing court broadcast rules to allow Federal Courtroom coverage of trial proceedings in California.
NPPA Submits Comments On Changing Court Broadcast Rules
Read the comment NPPA sent to the court
Read article in Reynolds Courts & Media Law Journal, Summer 2011
NPPA supports a federal shield law, especially as it relates to photographs, digital files, video outtakes, and negatives. Once enacted, this legislation should provide qualified protection for visual journalists against unwarranted federal subpoenas and coerced testimony. It will also bolster existing shield laws that are found in most states by protecting against forum shopping for federal prosecution to get around local shield laws.
All three branches of government must work to ensure that journalists – and through them the public – have access to places and events controlled by the government.
We believe that media access under the current administration has become more limited. For example: visual journalists are being kept out of significantly more presidential events while the White House offers handout photos instead. This severely restricts the ability of the press to gather and disseminate news which is an essential part of our democracy. NPPA advocates for the right of the media to be allowed into all public meetings and events.
In the past few years, with the proliferation of cell phone cameras there has been a significant uptick in conflicts related to recording images in public. In most cases, police and other government officials overstep their authority by trampling upon the rights of visual journalists. In addition, government officials and law enforcement agencies throughout the nation have erroneously relied upon the Patriot Act and post-9/11 anti-terrorism efforts in a push to limit photography in public places.
Below find links and documents that may be helpful in understanding and asserting your right to photograph and record. There are other useful documents for such things as copyright.
DISCLAIMER – This section is not intended to be legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. Laws and regulations vary from one area to another and federal, state or local laws may apply. Anyone seeking legal advice should contact an attorney familiar with these types of situations.
As a nationally recognized authority on the right to photograph and record audio-visual images, the NPPA advocates for visual journalists in disputes involving interference with that right, including detention and arrest. Our organization is quoted regularly in the reporting of such incidents. The advocacy committee has been instrumental in helping to draft acceptable law enforcement policies and often consults with those police agencies in an effort to improve ongoing education and training of personnel.
For regular updates on NPPA’s day-to-day advocacy efforts, subscribe to the NPPA Advocacy Committee Blog.
Photographing government buildings – see the .PDF at:: https://nppa.org/document/5647
TSA – Photography Rules: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/frequently-asked-questions/can-i-film-and-take-photos-security-checkpoint
IACP Public Recording of Police guidelines which was drafted in significant part by Mickey Osterreicher: https://www.theiacp.org/prop
Photographers should remember- not all police officers understand or respect these rules. If they direct you to move to a different but rear by location (such as out of the street and up on the sidewalk) that may be a reasonable time, place and manner restriction on your First Amendment right to photograph/record. Ordering you to stop or leave the scene entirely (especially if they let other without cameras remain) may be unlawful but it is still a very personal decision whether or not you wish to defy/ignore a police officer’s order and risk arrest. They have the badge and gun and no matter what the law you will lose the argument on the street. It is also illegal for police to order you to delete or destroy your images or for them or a third party to do so.
As for people (including police) – you may photograph them in public without their permission because “there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in a public place.” But what you do with those images is another story. See: https://www.pdnonline.com/photography-business/legal/street-photography-and-the-law-what-you-need-to-know/
In advance of th RNC please review the Cleveland PD's policy on filming police activity.
NPPA First Amendment Issues in Public SpacesSymposium Takeaway
NPPA General Counsel recently participated in a panel discussion at the Newseum called 'In the Public Eye: Police, Cameras & the Constitution'.
Holding Police Accountable– On Camera, April 10, 2015 - Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), discusses the legal challenges and First Amendment issues that persist around citizen and news media videotaping of police activity. The issue has gained urgency in recent weeks after controversial videos of a police shooting in South Carolina surfaced and the beating by several officers of a man during an arrest in California made headlines across the country.
A Guide to Photographer's Rights
Special thanks to Kimberly McCollough for providing a link to her work, Changing the Culture of Unconstitutional Interference: A Proposal for Nationwide Implementation of a Model Policy and Training Procedures Protecting the Right to Photograph and Record On-Duty Police
National Press Photographers Association
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (VA)
rcfp.org Legal Defense Hotline 1-800-336-4243
National Lawyers Guild (NY)
nlg.org (212) 679-5100
Citizen Media Law Project and the Online Media Legal Network (MA)
citmedialaw.org (617) 495-7547
Society for Professional Journalists - Legal Defense Fund (IN)
spj.org/ldf.asp (317) 927-8000
New Media Rights (CA)
newmediarights.org (619) 591-8870
Committee to Protect Journalists (NY)
cpj.org/campaigns/assistance (212) 465-1004, ext. 114, 118
The Student Press Legal Center
Legal Hotline 703-807-1904
A SLAPP suit is a “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation,” in other words, a lawsuit that targets people who are exercising their First Amendment Rights. Photography is a frequent target of threats through frivolous lawsuits. These suits are often used as weapons to bully citizens and visual journalists in an effort to stifle speech. The NPPA Advocacy Committee worked vigorously to support the passage of an Anti-SLAPP law in Texas, by helping to enact one of the strongest Anti-SLAPP laws in the nation. The NPPA supports efforts to pass a federal Anti-SLAPP law. If you believe you are the target of a SLAPP suit related to your photography, contact the Advocacy Committee.
See the following resources on SLAPP suits and anti-slapp laws.
The Public Participation Project- an effort to get a federal Anti-SLAPP law passed.
The First Amendment Project: Anti-SLAPP Resource Center
SLAPP Happy- List of Corporations that Sue to Shut You up - by the Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch
California Anti-SLAPP Project
Media Law Resource Center’s list of Legal Actions Against Bloggers
The Citizen Media Law Project’s guide to state Anti-SLAPP laws
The Newsroom Law Blog’s Overview of Anti-SLAPP law
SlappedinTexas.com, a resource on the Texas Anti-SLAPP law
8/19/20 - NPPA comments on NewYork Police Department Proposed Press Credential Rules
NYSBA coomments on NYPD Proposed Press Credential Rules
The committee is currently working on collecting policies and providing examples of acceptable policies. If you have a media policy, a credentialing contract, or a pool agreement that you are able to share with the committee, please forward it to [email protected].
How Do I Get Press Credentials?
NPPA's general counsel, Mickey H. Osterreicher, and Advocacy Committee member Alicia Wagner Calzada answer common questions about how to get press credentials, police department policies on press access and credentials, and event credential agreements. This resource is a new service prepared by NPPA's Advocacy Committee not just for NPPA members, but for all photographers as part of NPPA's efforts to help photographers with professional business development practices.
The NPPA occasionally files lawsuits on behalf of its members when appropriate.
The NPPA participates in a broad range of amicus (friend of the court) briefs when a case pending before an appellate court will have long-ranging impact on First Amendment or copyright issues.
Leigh v. Salazar (arguing in favor of access for photojournalists seeking to document a wild horse round-up). See related article.
ACLU v. Alvarez (arguing against an eavesdropping in Illinois that has led to arrests for videotaping police activity even when there is no reasonable expectation of privacy). See related article.
McBurney v. Hurlbert (arguing that a citizenship requirement in Virginia’s FOI laws is unconstitutional)
WIAA v. Gannett (arguing that a high school athletic association does not have a right to sell exclusive web broadcasting rights and restrain the length of news footage of a game) See related blog post. See related news article. See related legal article on the dispute over access in high school and college sports.
Milner v. Dept. of Navy (arguing against a broad interpretation of an exception to the Freedom of Information Act)
Snyder v. Phelps (arguing, without supporting defendant, that a law against offensive protesting would undermine the First Amendment
United States District Court for the Norther District of California - The NPPA submited a comment supporting the approval of the revision of Civil Local Rule 77-3Â as an exception to the current prohibition against the taking of photographs, public broadcasting or televising, or recording in connection with any judicial proceeding in the courtroom or its environs. See: NPPA – NDCA Comment 02-28-10
U.S. v. Stevens (arguing that a law prohibiting documentation of animal cruelty would affect journalists and violate the First Amendment).
Greenberg v. National Geographic (asking the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit a landmark copyright decision that allowed magazines and newspaper publishers to create and sell electronic archives of their previously published works without infringing on copyright). See related article.
New York State Cameras in the Court
The NPPA monitors national legislation for its impact on visual journalists, and weighs in if it feels a bill will affect their intellectual property rights or first amendment rights.
The NPPA also works with state legislators and administrative agencies when laws impact journalists, or have the potential to do so.
NPPA submits comments in response to a request from the U.S Office of Management and Budget through the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC) for written recommendations regarding intellectual property violations and enforcement NPPA – IPEC Comment 03-23-10 Final
NPPA visits Capital Hill on a regular basis and is involved in federal legislative advocacy efforts with the support of our pro-bono counsel at the prestigious firm of Covington & Burling. Recent legislative lobbying issues have included:
Support for a Federal Shield Law;
Efforts to limit the negative impact of proposed Orphan Works legislation;
Military Embed Policies;
Dover Photo Ban;
White house access;
Photography rules in National Parks.
Connecticut - A law was proposed in Connecticut that would have given a cause of action to anyone who was stopped from taking pictures in public by police. We reached out to the senator who proposed the bill and offered our support and offered testimony, although the hearing had already passed by the time we learned of it. The law passed Senate but the House let it die.
Iowa- A law that would ban photography of farms without the consent of the property owner bill passed the House, committee in other chamber, and is still being considered. The Iowa legislative session ended without enacting the bill.
Florida- A similar bill was proposed in Florida. We reached out to the legislators involved and pointed out the conflict regarding photography from a public street. They amended bill, as explained here. We still opposed this bill because it will impose serious burdens on journalists, even if they are on property with permission. The bill was indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration and the legislative session is over.
Texas- A lawsuit that targets someone for exercising their First Amendment rights is called a â€œSLAPP suit.â€ NPPA Attorney Alicia Wagner Calzada was involved in extensive lobbying efforts to get a strong Anti-SLAPP bill passed in Texas. Almost 30 U.S. juridictions now have an anti-SLAPP law, with Texas now having one of the strongest (there is also new anti-SLAPP for DC). The committee is considering getting involved in an effort for a federal Anti-SLAPP law. For more information go to http://www.slappedintexas.com.
The 2007 Illinois state high school football championship game was a shut-out—of news photographers. In an article for the DePaul Journal of Sports Law and Contemporary Problems, Alicia Wagner Calzada discusses this case and others, and the issues involved.
Shut Out: The Dispute over Media Access Rights in High School and College Sports (PDF, 640 KB)
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press: How a wave of protests across the nation has tested police-press relations, and what it means for journalists who cover them.