Much of the advocacy work that we do involves coordinating with one another, the board, the staff and leaders of other like-minded organizations. But several times this fall, our work has involved you.
A hearing on the CASE Act — the copyright small-claims bill we have been advocating for on your behalf for years — was held on Capitol Hill in late September. Coincidentally, it was the same day that many D.C. photojournalists were covering another hearing: the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing of witnesses Judge Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. While many area members were understandably busy that day, others were able to attend the hearing and were recognized by the committee while the bill was debated.
Opponents of the CASE Act are primarily the trade associations for big tech companies like Facebook and Pinterest. They raised concerns before the committee in a hypothetical scenario of a grandmother who gets caught violating copyrights with her embroidery business. The presence of photographers impacted by copyright law, as well as the presence of a photographer-witness representing our ally ASMP, clearly made an impression on the committee and enabled House members to see the suffering of photographers who experience real, meaningful challenges.
The process of making laws is knee-deep in lawyers and those who represent the special interests of companies and trade groups. But when the affected individuals show up, it is noticed. The tone of the hearing was markedly different because of the people sitting in the seats, facing the committee and asking for relief.
The realities of the calendar — the impending end of the legislative session and the upcoming election — mean that we are looking at having to reintroduce the bill in January. But the result of the hearing is that support for the bill is stronger, and we have gained more sponsors and allies in the fight to create a workable copyright solution.
We are also fighting a proposal to increase the cost to register your copyright. Again, while we did significant work filing detailed official objections, you also showed up. You participated in our survey so that we could provide solid data to the copyright office about the impact that increased fees would have. And you answered our call to file your own comments to the U.S. Copyright Office, explaining in your own words why it would make it harder to register. There were 157 comments in response to the proposed fee increase, and the vast majority were photographers.
Thank you for showing up.