The foolish PPA is pro-PIPA and SOPA


What’s Going On with The Professional Photographers of America?

I just now received the a rather ridiculous email from the PPA that I will post below.

It’s basically a bunch of horse-poop.  Did you know the PPA is actively spending money to lobby Congress for these and bills of this nature in the future?

Consider these condescending bits from their statement:

“So when a behemoth corporate money-maker like Google attempts to stand on the backs of photographers to increase its profits, we as your association take exception.”

“Each of us must work to be more enlightened about the real issues, and encourage our friends and neighbors not to be led astray by the fear-mongering of Internet bullies.”

Infuriating!  How does the PPA get off saying something so incendiary and foolish?

HDR Photo

This photo has been used without my permission tens of thousands of times. My video tutorials have been pirated tens of thousands of times. It hasn't hurt my business -- it has done quite the contrary.

Look at me, PPA.  Your association of pencil-pushing middlemen haven’t done anything for me. Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and hundreds more companies have been helping bring in the inevitable future of media.  I share everything openly and freely through Creative Commons Noncommercial.  This technique has enabled to grow to a point where we are quite profitable and about a dozen employees. Having these bills passed a long time ago would have hurt my business rather than helped it.

Creating new, innovative business models around the internet is the future (and present, I say).

Anyway, here is the email:

SOPA and PIPA – don’t be fooled

Dear Photographer,

We know that many of you have been following the developments with the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA). There has been some confusion over the proposed legislation, which frankly is the intent of the bills’ opponents. We wanted to take a moment to correct some of the bad information, and to let you know where we stand.

We were disappointed by some of the heavy-handed tactics used by opponents of the bills. The objective of those tactics was obviously to create fear and hysteria, while at the same time spreading false information about what the bills would actually accomplish. We want you to know the following:

Both pieces of legislation (SOPA in the Senate and PIPA in the House) targeted off-shore pirating of works produced in the U.S.
We do not feel that the measures were perfect—no legislation is. But the greater good demands that measures be taken to protect the rights of creators like you.
It is true that those mega-corporations opposed to the bill could possibly have been inconvenienced by the legislation. It is their job to make money, and their actions merely represented those purposes.
It is not true that the public would have been deprived of works to which it has rights, but rather, only those works that are copyrighted and being sold illegally by rogue off-shore websites.
Particularly disturbing to every photographer should be the attempts by Google, Wikipedia and others to define copyright as censorship. The tact is both offensive and intentionally false. Of course, the word “censorship” was chosen by opponents of the legislation for its obvious emotional value. Americans in particular are born with a deep-seated aversion to anything that loosely resembles censorship. Those feelings are amplified in photographers and other creators. After all, you earn a living by SHARING your work, not depriving people of it. So when a behemoth corporate money-maker like Google attempts to stand on the backs of photographers to increase its profits, we as your association take exception. (As a side note, we appreciate all of the words of support you regularly extend to us as we defend those rights.)

It is important to recognize that Google, while it claims to be a friend to copyright, is anything but. PPA is one of several associations joined together in a lawsuit against the search engine giant for illegally scanning and posting copyrighted photographs on the Internet. A similar lawsuit filed by publishers and authors is also underway. It is our opinion that following Google’s lead in defending intellectual property is something like depending on the fox to defend the hen house.

That Americans have bought into the false and misleading rhetoric issued over the past few weeks by opponents of the bills is unfortunate. We were surprised that a few creators were swayed by last week’s Internet blackout. And we were disappointed that some members of Congress, who are typically more reasoned in their consideration of copyright issues, crumbled in front of the scare tactics used by the bills’ opponents.

We will continue our Capitol Hill work on your behalf to educate members of Congress. Copyright is not a “Hollywood issue.” The vast majority of copyright holders in the U.S. are small businesses. While Hollywood makes an easy target, the tactic is little more than a smoke screen designed to draw attention away from the true issue—online companies wanting to increase profits at the expense of mom-and-pop creators.

Americans have always valued and defended small-business rights. Each of us must work to be more enlightened about the real issues, and encourage our friends and neighbors not to be led astray by the fear-mongering of Internet bullies. In the meantime, PPA will continue its efforts to defend the rights of photographers now and in the future.

Best wishes for a successful 2012,

David Trust,
Chief Executive Officer
Professional Photographers of America

SOPA / PIPA (and their future iterations in Congress) – Why I’m Against It

I think that we, the architects of the internet, are able to create bottom-up solutions for current and future problems. A good example of this is Creative Commons, and here I am at Google talking about how it affects “piracy” in my world of digital photography.  Jump ahead to the 7:30 min mark, when I start talking about this subject in particular.

  • Way to go Trey!! 🙂

  • I hate it when I’m a member of an organization that takes a stand counter to my own views.  PPA, you vex me with this issue.

  • Annette Biggers

    Way to go to bat, Trey!  It’s an honor to be on your team.  

  • Jeff Self

    In many ways, the photography industry is stuck in this dinosaur-mentality just as much as the MPAA and the RIAA. I was wondering how many photographers felt regarding SOPA. I had a feeling that many old-school photographers were in support of it. I’m on your side Trey.

  • Very definitely worth watching. An explanation that makes sense.  Good post Trey.

  • Kevin Wheelis

    They need to keep studying this issue, they don’t even have the two bills credited to the correct governing bodies!  Come on PPA, catch up.  Keep spreading the good word Trey.

  • I am all for protecting rights of the little guy, but SOPA and PIPA are not the answer.  I hate it when old media tried to stifle innovation it doesn’t understand.  

  • “The tact is both offensive and intentionally false”If you’re going to go grandstanding, you maybe want to know the difference between tact and tack. I know I’m pedantic, but that is such a bombastic piece of nonsense.

  • Who’s bullying now? The messages and views propogated by Google and other “mega-corporations” (because there are NO mega-corporations backing SOPA/PIPA, are there now?) have all been well-explained and devoid of incendiary or ad-hominem attacks. In fact, they typically go as far as to say that the motivation for such legislation is in fact a good one, but that the means of carrying it out is the problem.

    This atrocious letter, on the other hand, simply attacks opponents of SOPA/PIPA, offers no defense for its support of SOPA/PIPA and makes completely unverifiable claims that companies against the legislation are motivated by insidious ambitions. I personally find this letter more offensive than anything I have read to date about SOPA/PIPA, for or against. It’s simply insulting to opponents and has solely as its goal the smearing of their names for the sake of winning.

    The nature of the letter almost makes me wonder if PPA itself does not have ulterior motives for its defense of SOPA/PIPA.

  • The PPA, like much of congress, doesn’t seem to understand the difference between the protection of intellectual property and censorship. In its attempt to protect intellectual property, PIPA and SOPA took a bulldozer to a rose garden and in the end did little to protect intellectual property.

  • Oh no, Trey! You’ll be banned for life from something or the other…lol. Thank you for a breath of fresh air on the subject.

  • Shane Stever

    Did Mr. Trust have his high school kid write that letter?

  • I agree, when you are a member of an organization and they firmly stand on an issue opposite your own it causes one to take pause.  Now I disagree with PPA in this arena however I agree with them in many other areas of operations.  Now for congress, we all can see how toxic the legislation is now – they are all running from it like the wind.  


    Richard Shoaf Photography 

  • Dave Powell

    What a poorly rewritten letter.    People will ignore it just because of that… 

  • I’m not a member of the PPA, but if I would be, this would be a reason to quit.
    That’s the strongest way to show an organization when it no longer represents the interests of its members.

  • Have you heard that a judge ruled it’s illegal to photograph the same “scene” in UK?

  • Anonymous

    yes – that is a whole other load of bs right there! 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Oh no!  Hehe… I don’t think I can bear it…

  • Mr. Trust is obviously not someone to be trusted in these types of matters.. you can tell by the name

  • What disappoints me the most about all this is that the Internet is a place that has always fostered innovation and creativity. Now, because of people who’d wish to control it for their own means, that is all in jeopardy. I enjoy sharing my photos and thoughts online. My whole career in IT is possible largely because of the internet. I hope that we all see the light and remember how enjoyable things can be when we just share and enjoy the result.

  • i dont exactly understand wats this sopa.. will u be able to broadcast  hangouts  around the world after this act comes??? btway im from india

  • Anonymous

    Actually, I think they said it was the same elements, with a city bus highlighted against a grey background in the same way, that was the problem.  Even if you agree with this in principle (I don’t), in practice, it’s a nightmare.  What are you supposed to do now, compare your photo to every photo ever shot?

  • Anonymous
  • I was debating on joining PPA, but I guess they made my decision for me.

  • Daniel Westen

    As you had well noted, “a bunch of  “HORSE-POOOOP” 

  • Casper van Zyl

    Just when every bodies world is traveling along smoothly, someone puts there 2 bobs worth in so they can say I did this or I did that instead of letting people get on with there enjoyable ways.I feel the tall poppy syndrome must be left for politicians and let the people enjoy sharing their work with who ever. Sorry folks, this is all but and insult to horse poop,I would say shark poo as you cannot get anything lower,there you go take that you Sopa—-pipa—-ppa  and what ever wants to come and upset us all, give then heaps.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with you, Trey!  When this organization sent you this email, it was a bunch of horse pooey!!

  • Trey thank you for sharing this. I was about to become a member of the PPA, but now there’s is no way I would support an organization that backs censorship in any way or form.

  • I realize I’m acting like the grammar police, but I’m astonished that PPA would send out a letter, presumably to thousands of readers, with the line “The tact is both offensive and intentionally false.”  The “tact”? Clearly, they mean the word “tactic”. My astonishment is based on the observation they didn’t take the time to proofread what is, presumably, a very important document in their campaign.

  • John Pauk


  • Anonymous

    Thanks for sharing this email Trey! I can’t believe these people had the audacity to send you something like this lol!

  • Great Post Trey !!! I agree and have bailed out of the PPA years ago when I looked what the PPA actually does for Pro Photographers and found it to be worthless.

  • Derek Smith

    Smith Wow,
    tremendous lecture Trey, very well said on many, many points. I
    like what you had to say about not taking too much input from
    your peers inside your own bubble. As you said many people don’t
    have the eye or the skill to offer a valid critique. Having a
    bunch of friends that pat you on the back and say “great shot”
    does not help you expand your skill set.

    Years ago I worked for a brilliant photographer in San Francisco
    who was very successful and very much had his own way of doing
    things. At one point I noticed he did not have any magazines or
    coffee table books anywhere in the studio. When I asked him
    about this, he said that looking at other peoples work had an
    influence on him and he didn’t want to be influenced by those
    @#@[email protected]%! guys.

  • Adam Allegro

    I’m not going to talk about the bills, as most everything has already been said.  I will comment on the G+ talk though.  You have some great points and express them in such a clear manner.  Public speaking on a grand scale is in your future my friend. Fantastic.  It still amazes me what you have accomplished in such a short period of time.  I look at myself and smile because I am happy with my growth as a photographer.  As I have said before, you have been a constant source of inspiration for me and I thank you for that – no doubt tens of thousands of others feel the same.   If you ever find yourself in Italy (until AUG anyways), let me know, I would love to go shooting with you.

  • Greg Thow

    Also Trey, you have “ridiculous” spelled wrong at the top of the post.. fyi…


  • Anonymous

    Am I the only person who caught the “Bottom Up” reference in tandem with the world famous Ibiza beach bunny pic?
    Niiiiice Trey.

  • satrain18

    Here’s a list of SOPA supporters in the photography world:

    Groups and organizations

    American Photographic Artists
    American Society of Media Photographers
    Commercial Photographers International
    Evidence Photographers International Council
    Professional Photographers of America(obviously)
    Society of Sport & Event Photographers
    Student Photographic Society


    Allen Russell
    Anatoly Pronin
    Andrea Rugg
    Art Holeman
    Brian Stevenson
    Burt Jones(Secret Sea Visions)
    Christopher Marona
    Christopher Semmes
    Dan Sherwood
    Danita Delimont
    Derek DiLuzio
    Don Grall
    Ed McDonald
    Erik Stenbakken
    Fred J. Lord
    Greg Nikas
    Howard Englebert
    Ira Montgomery
    Jon DeVaul
    JC Page
    Jean Poland
    Jeff Stevensen
    John Fulton
    J.S. Grove
    Julien McRoberts
    Kenneth Garrett
    Linda Olsen
    Lori Habiger(Center Stage Photography)
    Mark Niederman
    Maurine Shimlock(Secret Sea Visions)
    Michael Stern
    Peter C. Brandt
    Peter Hawkins
    Richard Flutie
    Rich Doriguzzi(Doriguzzi Photographic Artistry)
    Robin Davis
    Roger Smith
    Sam D’Amico
    Sean McGinty
    Stephen Dantzig
    Steve Nissle(Nissle Fine Art Photography)
    Taylor Glenn
    Tim McLain
    Timothy Dunford(Dunford Architectural Photography)
    Tony Bullard
    Wendy Kaveney
    William Sutton

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