The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) has submitted comments to the Intellectual Property Enforcement Commission (IPEC) detailing recommendations that would improve copyright protection for visual images.
The 16-page document, which was submitted following an open request for comments from IPEC, highlighted numerous measures specifically aimed at giving photographers recourse when their images where pirated.
“Most photojournalists view our profession as a calling,” the comment states. “None really expect to become wealthy in this line of work, but most do expect to earn a fair living, support themselves and their family and contribute to society. Copyright infringement reduces that economic incentive dramatically.”
One recommendation put forth in the comments was to track takedown notices for websites hosting pirated images in order to hold search engines liable when they continue to list those infringing websites in search results. In a move indicating that this recommendation may soon become reality, Google announced on the same day that the comment was submitted, that it would drop the search rankings of sites with multiple takedown notices.
“Starting next week, we will begin taking into account a new signal in our rankings: the number of valid copyright removal notices we receive for any given site,” the Google Search blog said. “Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in our results. This ranking change should help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily.”
The NPPA comments proposed increased accountability for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in addition to search engines. The comments also proposed enacting statutes targeting news aggregators and their use of hyper linking, encouraging metadata schemas that would enable easier identification of image ownership, and creating a small claims solution for copyright infringement.
The comments stressed that the loss of staff positions at newspapers nationwide and the increasing copyright infringement of images by the public have undermined the value of photojournalism and made it more important than ever that photojournalists have their images protected.
“The end result of the continued devaluation of journalism, and photojournalism, is that communities suffer,” the comment states. “Important stories on public spending, public welfare, health and safety will not be told with the vigor and thoroughness of years past.”
NPPA’s comments can be viewed at this link.
Advocacy Chair note: NPPA Intern Justice Warren contributed significantly to this effort.