BVPA Members Reject CEPIC Image Finder

Posted on 5/21/2014 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

The annual general meeting of the German Association of Professional Image Suppliers (BVPA) has voted with a strong majority (only one dissenting vote) against supporting the CEPIC projects CIF and RDI. The panel came to the conclusion that the expected benefits of the projects, as presented at the meeting, do not outweigh the expected expense and risks.

Of particular concern is the lack of transparency in choosing cooperation partners within the project (Getty Images / PicScout / ALBUM) and the fact that the details of the tendering process have not been adequately clarified.

As part of this year’s annual general meeting of the BVPA on 4 April in Munich, CEPIC president Alfonso Gutiérrez and Sergi Griño, representative of the Spanish agency ALBUM, presented the current state of development of the pilot project Cepic Image Finder.

The BVPA board awarded the CEPIC delegates the opportunity of this presentation because despite ample information provided in advance to BVPA members, Alfonso Gutiérrez had not succeeded in clarifying ambiguities and addressing the uncertainties of the membership regarding the project. Moreover, the CEPIC delegates had not addressed the questionnaire from the BAPLA concerning the project.

In the ensuing discussion, BVPA members expressed their concern that the technology for a search engine for professional images could easily be commercialized, and that the involvement of Getty Images and PicScout in the project could result in considerable advantages for these organizations. Furthermore, the system would establish a market transparency, which opposes the widespread culture of cooperating agencies in Germany.

Of course, the BVPA also acknowledges the efforts of the CEPIC in offering another search tool for finding orphan works. But considering that the collecting societies, who are of course interested in a collective exercise in this field, remained unconvinced by previous image search systems (PicScout, CPA or Google Image Search), we doubt that a decisive breakthrough can be achieved through CIF. The greatest obstacle concerning orphan works is that it will still take many years to digitize the overwhelming majority of old, analog image collections before they could be made publicly available via CIF.

Please also note that in Germany, simultaneous to the implementation of the European Directive on orphan works, the Bundestag has created an alternative solution for so called 'out of commerce works'.
This regulation allows public bodies to digitize these collections and put them online under similar conditions to their normal catalog. Instead of being required to do a diligent search for their orphan works, institutions must merely pay a fee to the relevant collecting societies. The BVPA surmises that a search tool like the CEPIC Image Finder will probably be met with very little interest in Germany.

My Thoughts

The problem with collecting societies is that in most cases they do not directly compensate actual creators of the works used. In most cases they make no attempt to idendity the specific use. Rather they charge a blanket fee for a certain volume of unspecified use and disburse a portion of the fees collected based on the size of an individual creator’s collection, not on images actually used. In this way certain creators can receive large payouts when none of their works was actually useds while others receive, very little, or nothing, even though their work was used extensively.

Before the Internet, and before it became possible to easily locate licensors of many works, the collecting society system was better than the alternative of creators receiving notthing at all for some of the uses of their works. But, with technological innovations, collecting societies may have outgrown much of their usefulness.

The second thing to consider is that in today’s digital society a huge percentage of the works that are used without authorization were created digitally and relatively recently. Or they have already been digitized. Yes, it will take many years to digitize all the older analog works, but uses of these works are a very small percentage of total unauthorized uses in today’s digital world.

CIF, The Copyright Hub, PLUS or other systems like them, may not be perfect solutions, but to the degree that they can get some revenue to the actual creators of images used, and do it at a reasonable cost, they are worth considering.

In the interim it may be advisable for the two systems to co-exist. Certain types of volume users can continue to pay a relatively high annual fee to a collecting society for unlimited uses, But, individual small users will need to search a database to determine if an image needs to be licensed and negotiate satisfactory arrangements with the creator. When a use is challenged the user would need to demonstrate that either he had licensed use through a collecting society, or that the use had been licensed from an individual.

Copyright © 2014 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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