GBS: PMA Likes Settlement, Wants to Apply Clone Tool

PMA, formerly the “Photo Marketing Association International” but now “The Worldwide Community of Imaging Associates, filed a letter supporting the settlement on Wednesday. It raises three arguments in favor of the settlement.

First, PMA apparently thinks along the same lines I do because they explicitly praise the settlement’s precedential value for other media:

When the Settlement was announced, PMA members reacted positively by stating that the photo imaging community, in which there are billions of images (works) for which clearance of rights is impossible or difficult due to obscure ownership or no ownership information at all, should consider replication of some of the Settlement’s key features.

Second, PMA (hearts) the Registry and wants one of its very own:

In the photo imaging community, no registry of photographs currently exists and none is on the horizon. In PMA’s view, the precedential value of a book registry could serve as a powerful stimulus for the creation of a photograph registry and a step toward the resolution of the current photographic image orphan works issue.

Third, PMA, which is in favor of orphan works legislation, doesn’t see the settlement as an obstacle. Slightly paradoxically, the PMA states:

[T]he Settlement does not — and should not — chill legislative efforts to enact orphan works legislation. … As long as there are huge quantities of works where authors and owners are not known or cannot be reached, like in the imaging industry, congressional intervention will be necessary. By eliminating visual images from the Settlement, the settling parties assured the existence of a huge remaining orphan works problem.

Having gone over these benefits to the settlement, PMA then ends up agreeing with the library associations that continuing court supervision would be a good idea (particularly because the settlement “may have precedential effect on other industries.”

I liked this letter. Of course, it doesn’t address many of the settlement’s issues, but no three-page letter could be expected do. What it does do is call attention to a few important aspects of the settlement of interest to the photographic community; then take a clear and novel position on them. PMA is engaged constructively in the dialogue about the settlement. In hindsight, it’s becoming increasingly obvious how important the four-month delay was, and how many voices would have been unheard had the filing deadline not been pushed back to the fall.