May 14th, 2012 by Mickey Osterreicher

In response to a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking by the U.S. Copyright Office “proposing the adoption of new fees for the registration of claims, recordation of documents, special services, Licensing Division services, and processing of FOIA requests” the NPPA, today submitted comments requesting that the Copyright Office  reconsider and revise its proposed fee increases as well as streamline the registration process.

In addition to those suggestions the NPPA also included the results of its recent survey on this matter. Based upon comments received and past experience with this issue, NPPA believes that copyright registration is seen by many photojournalists as an almost unaffordable luxury rather than a basic tool to protect one’s work. Increasing the cost of registration fees will almost guarantee that fewer of these images will be registered, thus contributing to both the inability of photojournalists to enforce their copyright and the lack of access to deposits of valuable historical records. Photojournalists would benefit from either significantly lower fees for single work registration, a subscription-type program that did not require fees per-work, or both.

NPPA Copyright Fee Comments with Exhibits 05-14-12


Posted in copyright, Copyright registration fees, National Press Photographers Association, News Photography, NPPA, photographers, photojournalism, U.S. Copyright Office | 1 Comment »

7th Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds Right to Record in Public

May 8th, 2012 by Mickey Osterreicher

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit today granted a preliminary injunction, blocking enforcement of the Illinois Eavesdropping statute as it applies to audio recording of police performing “their duties in public places and engaging in public communications audible to persons who witness the events.”

According to 7th Circuit Opinionthe Illinois eavesdropping statute restricts far more speech than necessary to protect legitimate privacy interests; as applied to the facts alleged here, it likely violates the First Amendment’s free speech and free-press guarantees.

The NPPA along with other media groups had submitted an amicus brief in support of the ACLU position, which now aligns with the decision in the First Circuit in Glik v Cunniffe. The 3 judge panel in this case found that “the Illinois eavesdropping statute restricts a medium of expression commonly used for the preservation and communication of information and ideas, thus trig­gering First Amendment scrutiny. Illinois has criminalized the nonconsensual recording of most any oral communica­tion, including recordings of public officials doing the public’s business in public and regardless of whether the recording is open or surreptitious.”

The court did not adopt the Illinois argument that the government’ had an “interest in protecting conversational privacy,” finding instead that “the Illinois eavesdropping statute restricts far more speech than necessary to protect legiti­mate privacy interests; as applied to the facts alleged here, it likely violates the First Amendment’s free-speech and free-press guarantees.”

“In short, the eavesdropping statute restricts a medium of expression—the use of a common instrument of com­munication—and thus an integral step in the speech process. As applied here, it interferes with the gathering and dissemination of information about government officials performing their duties in public. Any way you look at it, the eavesdropping statute burdens speech and press rights and is subject to heightened First Amendment scrutiny.”

Not surprisingly in his dissent , Circuit Judge Richard A. Posner continued the  suppositions and parade-of-horribles that he first articulated during the oral argument in this case last October. Advocating for a reasonable expectation of privacy for police and others when speaking in public he conjectured about how “in many of these encounters the person con­versing with the police officer may be very averse to the conversation’s being broadcast on the evening news or blogged throughout the world.” Once again erroneously seeking to trample on the First Amendment right to record in public in order to protect against the possibility of a perceived right of privacy tort arising should such conversations be published.

Fortunately Judges David F. Hamilton and Diane S. Sykes had the good sense to recognize that “the Illinois eavesdropping statute obliterates the distinction between private and nonprivate by criminalizing all nonconsensual audio recording regardless of whether the communication is private in any sense.” (emphasis in the original).


Posted in Access, ACLU v Alvarez, First Amendment, First Amendment rights, Illinois ACLU, Photographers' Rights, Reasonable Expectation of Privacy, Recording, Recording Police | No Comments »

Rep. Nekritz Re-introduces Bill to Amend IL Eavesdropping Law

May 8th, 2012 by Mickey Osterreicher

Illinois Rep. Elaine Nekritz, has sponsored a new bill that would amend the draconian measures found in the state’s current Eavesdropping law. SB 1808 amends the Illinois Criminal Code concerning eavesdropping exemptions and provides that a person may record the conversation of a law enforcement officer who is performing a public duty in a public place and any other person who is having a conversation with that law enforcement officer if the conversation is at a volume audible to the unassisted ear of the person who is making the recording.

The bill also defines “public place” and provides that if a recorded conversation authorized under this exemption is used by a complainant as part of the evidence of misconduct against a police officer and is found to have been intentionally altered by or at the direction of the complainant to inaccurately reflect the incident at issue, it must be presented to the appropriate State’s Attorney for a determination of prosecution.

Current Illinois law permits videotaping officers in public but criminalizes the interception of oral communication (audio recording) without the consent of all parties. A conviction on such a felony charge could result in a 15 year jail sentence. Some recent prosecutions under the current law have resulted in acquittals and in others the trial court judge found the statute to be unconstitutional. Supporters of the bill believe it strikes the right balance between the reasonable expectation of privacy and the First Amendment by allowing citizens to audio record law enforcement officers performing public duties in public places.

In a similar case, Glik v. Cunniffe,  the United States Court of Appeal for the First Circuit found the public and the press have a “co-extensive” right to record officers in public places.  In another case, Sharp v Baltimore City Police, the United States Department of Justice filed a Statement of Interest in support of such recordings. The ACLU has challenged the constitutionality of the Illinois Eavesdropping statute in ACLU v Alvarez and a decision is expected by the Seventh Circuit any day. The Chicago Police Department recently announced that it would not seek to enforce the law during the NATO Summit scheduled for later this month.

NPPA submitted Comments in support of a previous bill that recently failed in the House by 15 votes. Not surprisingly police organizations opposed that measure citing fears that people might edit or alter the recordings to use as evidence of officer misconduct. The new bill addresses those concerns. According to Rep. Nekritz, the new bill “would address some high-profile prosecutions that occurred under the existing  eavesdropping law of citizens who have done nothing more but take out their cell phones and record a police officer performing public duty.”

The State Journal-Register, The Southern, Chicago Sun-Times, and Chicago Tribune have all written editorials in support of this measure and it is also supported by the Illinois State Bar Association, Illinois Press Association and the American Civil Liberties Union. The bill has already passed out of the Houses Judiciary Committee on Civil Law and will be brought to the floor sometime in the next few weeks.

Posted in Access, ACLU v Alvarez, cell phone cameras, Chicago, Chicago Police, DOJ, First Amendment, First Amendment rights, Glik v Cunniffe, Illinois, Illinois Eavesdropping Law, Illinois General Assemby, National Press Photographers Association, News Photography, Newsgathering, NPPA, photographers, Photographers' Rights, photojournalism, Police, Public Photography, Reasonable Expectation of Privacy, Recording, Recording Police, Rep. Elaine Nekritz | 1 Comment »

Copyright Registration Fees set to increase

May 5th, 2012 by Alicia Calzada and tagged , , ,

The NPPA is disappointed to report that the U.S. Copyright Office is planning to nearly double the cost of registering your images. They have provided the opportunity for public comment prior to the change and NPPA will be submitting comments regarding the change.

The changes include increases in the cost of group registration of images from $35 to $65.

We would like photographers to take a quick 3-minute survey to give us more information about how the proposed changes would impact you.

UPDATE: some attorneys are interpreting the “one work” registration at $45 to include the registration of a group of images. The NPPA believes that under the plain language statutory construction principle, it refers to a single image. Maria Pallante, the Register of Copyrights has asked for comments to include both interpretations of “one work” and the NPPA will comment accordingly.

Posted in copyright, National Press Photographers Association, News Photography, photographers, photojournalism | No Comments »