Trade Organizations In Europe Call On EU To Stop Framing

Posted on 3/15/2018 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

In a joint letter to the European Parliament Legal Affairs Committee these trade organizations CEPIC, EFJ, EVA, and Pyramide Europe are calling European legislators to urgently correct the theory of law used by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) involving the use of framing/embedding technology on the Internet.

Hyperlink vs Framing/Embedding

A simple hyperlink leading to a source website where an image is displayed within its original context is a generally accepted practice by image creators.

Framing technology, on the other hand, makes it possible to embed a part of one website (often an image) into another website without prior authorization by the author. For the public, the fact that the image is “taken” from another website is invisible. But for the visual authors the use of framing technology has serious legal and financial consequences.

CJEU Jurisprudence on Article 3 Leads to Uncertainties for Authors

Article 3 of the EU Directive 2001/29 provides authors with a right of communication to the public. However, due to the jurisprudence of the CJEU, this right has been dramatically diluted by mixing the concepts of hyperlinking and framing.

In the absence of European legislation that would differentiate between simple links and links utilizing framing technology, the CJEU has had to decide on a case by case basis (Svensson (C-466/12), Bestwater (C-348/13) and GS Media (C-160/15)). Each ruling has made the legal situation even more complex leading to factual exhaustion of authors’ rights.

In a nutshell, the CJEU held that framing/embedding work from another website only qualifies as an act of communication to the public (for which the author must grant permission) if new technical means are applied (regarding all internet display as applying the same technical means) or a new public is addressed (ruling that the linked website addresses the entire internet community if the access to the linked website is not restricted by technical means). In consequence all works which are freely accessible in the internet may be reused by framing/embedding by any third party for whatever purpose in whatever context (commercial, political, religious, pornographic….) – without any means of control of the original author.

Pictures have economic value. If they are used in a commercial way, with the potential to generate revenue for website creators, then the image creator should have the right to determine if they want their image used for that purpose and be compensated for the use of their work. The people designing the website are paid; the people creating the copy for a website are compensated in some way; the image creator also has a right to be paid for his or her contribution.

What’s Happening In North America

In North America the focus is on small claims legislation as a way to protect copyright. Hopefully, that will be enacted before the end of the 2017 and a new Congress has to start all over in 2018.

However, a small claims court system will do nothing to encourage website developers to stop framing and make some effort to track down the image creator in order to get permission to use an image. Creators will still need to chase down unauthorized users before the small claims court will do them any good.

If something like what the Europeans are pursuing could be established here it would be a powerful tool to establish what is legal (as well as right and fair.) The existence of such a framing rule won’t immediately solve all the problems, but it might make more people aware that there is an actual law about using images without proper permission.

It is interesting to consider some of the excuses people offer as to why they think it is alright to use the property of others.
    “We thought Google offers all images for free”
    “The images were uploaded by our trainee”
    “Why does this image cost anything? I found it online.”
    “I did not use this image.”
    “My website was hacked.”
    “The images have been online for about 10 years. Why should I pay now?”
    “It’s not just me, others have stolen this image as well.”
    “But we named the copyright holder. What else do they want?”
    “I did not generate any benefits with this image. Why should I pay for it?”

More about the European organizations participating:

CEPIC   As the Center of the Picture Industry, CEPIC federates 600 picture agencies and photo libraries in 20 countries across Europe, both within and outside the European Union. It has affiliates in North America and Asia. CEPIC’s membership includes large and smaller stock photo libraries, major photo news agencies, art galleries and museums, video companies. CEPIC has among its members the big global players such as Getty, Shutterstock or Reuters. Through this membership, CEPIC represents more than 250.000 authors in direct licensing. The annual CEPIC Congress extends CEPIC’s network on all five continents. It is the largest global gathering of the international photo community representing 90% of the market worldwide.

EFJ   The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) is the largest organisation of journalists in Europe, representing over 320,000 journalists in 70 journalists’ organisations across 44 countries. It fights for social and professional rights of journalists working in all sectors of the media across Europe through strong trade unions and associations. It promotes and defends the rights to freedom of expression and information as guaranteed by Article 10 of the European convention on human rights. The EFJ supports its affiliates to foster trade union development, to recruit new members, and to maintain or create environments in which quality, journalistic independence, pluralism, public service values, and decent work in the media exist.

EVA   European Visual Artists (EVA) represents the interests of authors’ collective management organisations for the visual arts. EVA gathers 27 European collective management organisations in 23 countries. They manage collectively authors’ rights of 100 000 authors of works of fine art, illustration, photography, photo journalism, design, street art, architecture and other visual works. They issue licenses for analogue, digital and online use of works for museums, libraries, archives, publishers, producers of merchandising products and any other using visual repertoire. EVA members also manage the resale right of art works. They collect and distribute remuneration rights such as private copying and reprography and they are part of an efficient International network.

PYRAMIDE   Pyramide Europe is the organization representing mainly groups of professional photographers, but some of the members represent also graphic designers, illustrators and other visual artists in the European Union. The Pyramide Europe members represent over 20000 photographers and other visual authors. Pyramide’s name comes from the site of its first meeting in 1989, the Pyramide of the Louvre in Paris, where the founding members signed a declaration of ten items of fundamental legislative importance to photographers and artists – the Manifesto of the Pyramide. This manifesto binds Pyramide and encompasses the rights of creators with regard to their copyright and moral rights. As a European Economic Interest Group, Pyramide Europe represents many of the member states and is establishing contacts with the new group of nations.

Copyright © 2018 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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