The CASE Act, H.R. 2426, was unanimously reported out of the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday night, Sept. 10, 2019, by voice vote. You can watch it at the very end of the markup here. The Senate version of the bill was reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in July. See this link for more information.
NPPA’s attorneys have been working with a coalition of visual arts organizations on this bill for many years, and NPPA members have been very supportive of this bill, calling and writing their lawmakers. Your efforts have had a positive impact as there are now close to 100 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives. The next steps for the bill are a full vote in the House of Representatives and a full vote in the Senate.
In California, confusion over when a photographer is an employee or a freelancer will soon be more clear as the California State Senate passed AB5 to clarify a 2018 court decision that declared many contractors to be employees. The bill passed the Assembly on Wednesday with a preliminary tally of 56 in favor and 15 opposed. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, has said he would sign the bill if it gets to his desk.
As the bill was being crafted, NPPA’s attorneys coordinated with California NPPA member David Poller who, on NPPA’s behalf, met several times with the author of AB5 and her staff to advocate for the interests of visual journalists. With NPPA’s influence, exceptions were written into the bill to allow freelance still photojournalists 35 assignments per year before being considered an employee. Video journalists will be considered employees under some aspects of the bill in part as a result of influence from Hollywood labor unions, although there may be another exemption that could apply. Still photographers who create video for clients will need to keep this in mind.
While the NPPA didn’t get everything we wanted in the bill, the version of the bill that we were ultimately able to negotiate strikes a better balance than before between the goal of protecting photographers from exploitation while allowing visual journalists who choose to freelance for multiple clients to do so without being concerned about losing their copyright.
A separate California law already states that photographers who are compelled to sign a work for hire contract are considered employees under state law. Any members with questions should feel free to contact NPPA’s attorneys at [email protected] and [email protected]. Other states are watching the progress of AB5 closely and can be expected to follow suit with similar bills, so this was an important step for all of NPPA’s members. We thank David Poller for all of his hard work on this initiative.
Full text of California AB5 can be found here.
Article on AB5 from the Wall Street Journal or the San Francisco Chronicle.