by Gwyn Headley
If you’ve never heard of CEPIC, I’m not really surprised. It’s a business business. It stands for the Coördination of European Picture Agencies Stock, Press and Heritage. It aims to be the centre of the picture industry. CEPIC federates nearly a thousand picture agencies and photo libraries in twenty countries across Europe. 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 and of course fotoLibra. CEPIC represents more than 150,000 photographers in direct licensing, and if you are reading this as a fotoLibra photographer, that means you.
CEPIC holds an annual conference packed with lectures, events, seminars and opportunities to meet. There are no photographers, no picture buyers. If you ran a milk bar, would you want cows in the shop?
This year it was held in Barcelona, so Yvonne Seeley and I felt we really ought to make an effort and go. It was our first CEPIC. I mean, what’s not to like about Barcelona? Well, I’ll tell you exactly what’s not to like, but I’ll put it in my personal blog.
The fair ran from Tuesday to Friday, and it was a networkers’ paradise. Yvonne and I scheduled 38 meetings with picture libraries from Spain, USA, Germany, Turkey, Brazil, Ireland, Russia, France, Poland, India, Switzerland, Korea, Japan, India and China. In addition we met more people at coffee time, parties, in lifts, at lunch, sunning ourselves outside, at restaurants — it was non stop, frenetic and immensely stimulating.
Unlike the Frankfurt Book Fair which is vaster than the wheatfields of the Mid-West, you had a chance to meet just about everyone. I mean, at Frankfurt the fiction rights director of Bloomsbury wouldn’t be seen dead talking to the sales manager of an STM publisher, but at CEPIC everyone was happy to be talking to everybody else. It was big enough to matter, yet small enough to care. If at times there was a sense of bumbling amateurism it was offset by genuine love and enthusiasm. And people weren’t afraid to gossip — ‘Oh, she’s AWFUL!! I avoid her like the plague!’ — and ten minutes later the two protagonists are seen in tears of laughter over a couple of glasses of cava.
The French air traffic controllers decided to strike that week, and some of the seminar speakers failed to turn up. So it was I got a panicky email from Heathrow on Tuesday night asking please could I speak at the metadata conference on Thursday morning? Of course I agreed.
We had meetings all the next day, so there wasn’t much time to prepare. No Powerpoint, thank God. So I jotted down a few jokes on metadata and winged it. If I can remember roughly what I said, I’ll write it down in a future blog.
When you’re on a podium, people you wouldn’t otherwise have met come up and speak to you afterwards, so that enhanced the fair still further for us.
CEPIC was great. Obviously only about 5% of the business we discussed will amount to anything (that cynicism is born from 35 years at the Frankfurt Book Fair) but we will see. And that 5% could prove to be very important.
Just to give you a flavour of the show, here’s a link to the estimable Photo Archive News’s picture coverage of the event. And if you scroll halfway down, past the party goers to the workers, you might find a photograph of the dedicated fotoLibra team in action.
Here’s an extract of part of the programme for one morning — and remember we were fitting in our meetings around the seminars:
- 10:00 – 11:30 Machine Readable Rights in Practice
- 10:00 Short introduction by Christina VAUGHAN/ CEPIC
10:10 Introduction to machine readable rights in the picture library industry by Abbie ENOCK
- 10:25 – 11:30 How can software help to manage rights?
- 10:25 Introduction by David RIECKS
Speakers on panel are: Christopher FRENNING/ Fotoware, Dennis Walker/ Camera Bits, Richard BAMFORD/ Extensis, Ramon FORSTER/ PicturePark,
- 11:30 Coffee break
- 12:00 – 12:35 What the users need: the (bad?) experience of buyers and sellers
- SPEAKERS: Michael STEIDL/ IPTC, Alan CAPEL/ Alamy, Christina GALLEGO/ La Vanguardia
- 12:50 – 13:55 The wider context: what is driving change?
- 12:50 Introduction by the moderator, Sarah SAUNDERS/ Electric Lane
12:55 Copyright developments in the UK, Paul BROWN/ BAPLA
13:05 IPTC’s Social Media test, Michael Steidl/ IPTC
13:15 PLUS show case of expressing a specific license, Jeff SEDLIK/ PLUS Coalition
13:25 CEPIC Image Registry project, Sylvie FODOR/ CEPIC
13:35 Panel discussion
- 13:55 – 14:05 The Camera: a Source of Rights Metadata?
- SPEAKER: David RIECKS will introduce examples of direct connections of cameras to the Internet.
Was it worthwhile? I think so. I hope so. We will see. Next year’s CEPIC will be held in Berlin.
I guess we’ll be going.