DMLA together with various other visual arts associations (what we are loosely referring to a Coalition of Visual Artists –DMLA, APA, ASMP, GAG, NPPA, NANPA, and PPA) filed a joint response to a proposed rulemaking by the Copyright Office on Group Registration of Photographs.
The proposal seeks to establish new online registration procedures for groups of unpublished as well as published photographs. The proposal was quite in-depth, including an extensive history of group registration of photographs regulations and the requirements for a new proposed system. In general the coalition was in favor of improving the electronic registration process for registration of all photographs, but had some recommendations for the Copyright Office on as to how to improve the proposed system.
Universally, everyone agreed that the arbitrary limitation of 750 images per registration would be burdensome to visual artists and would discourage registration. This limit would be unworkable for many photographers who register all the works in an assignment in one application, and is much lower than the number of images submitted by many members of DMLA when submitting database registration of images uploaded to websites. In addition, the Copyright Office proposal specifically would discourage this database registration in favor of the group registration of unpublished and published photographs regimes. Database registrations were specifically crafted by the Copyright Office at the request of DMLA to assist DMLA members register photographs on behalf of contributors before ingesting them into their database for licensing on the web based platforms. The DMLA’s legal committee, and in particular Dan Pollack, Masterfile’s attorney assisted in responding to that aspect of the proposed rulemaking and expressed DMLA’s concern as this registration has been a key factor in many successful enforcement programs to deter infringements and encourage licensing.
The Coalition also urged that the provision to permit group registration of unpublished photographs and published photographs be expanded to include all forms of visual art, regardless of format, whether photographs, illustration or otherwise.
Other recommendations related to improving the application process to be compatible with typical visual artists’ workflows and promoting the use of APIs that may be developed to allow the seamless registration of photographs and visual artworks, and that both published and unpublished photographs can be registered at the same time.
The joint response was a result of corporation of all the associations and was quite extensive. A copy of the full response can be found here. This is a great example of the joint efforts of the various visual art association coming together with one voice. The Copyright Alliance also adopted the position set out in the coalition of visual artists’ response to the proposed rulemaking as well.