Archive for the ‘BAPLA’ Category


June 24th, 2013
Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

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.



Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

We all have to live with spam, and if a blog or a site is widely read or visited, we have to accept that among its users there will be people who hold violently different opinions to the majority. Do we allow them their comments, or not?

Well we do, even when the one tired old fotoLibra Stalker, frothing over his keyboard, posts another gratuitous assault on the company he loves to hate. It’s his point of view, warped and twisted though it may be, so up it goes. If anyone is remotely interested, I’ll post the story of how many years ago a sad man flagellated himself into this state of apoplectic rage.

On the other hand, we will delete out-and-out spam and comments which have no relevance. Someone posted something like “Way – Hey! R E E E S P E E E C T!” on the BAPLA Shock Horror blog posting the other day, so as it added nothing to the debate I deleted it. Back came a resentful “So much for Open Access.” I deleted that too. If you posted those and you really want to contribute, why not say what you want to say instead of just shouting incoherently? It will be published.

I have to scan through all the spam that’s picked up by the excellent Akismet plug-in for WordPress, because something genuine might slip through. Sometimes they make me smile with their guile, but this one brought a tear to my eye:

Very interesting post. On the other hand, good copywriters are very well considerated because they achieve very good results. For exemple, a good headline can make that much more people read your post.

The person can’t write English. Yet he’s offering copywriting services. Very … very … very; good … good … good — two words repeated 6 times in 33. Bad style, I’d say.

“Considerated”. Is this George W. Bush coming back to haunt us?

“For exemple”, for example.

“make that much more people”? Wrong, wrong, wrong!

I wouldn’t dream of going to Saudi Arabia and setting up as a Hafiz. What makes this guy go to the lengths of spamming something which proves he’s incompetent?

What hope! What confidence! To set up a spamming business offering something you so clearly cannot do! It’s like the fotoLibra Stalker deluding himself he’s a photographer.


If we were astonished when we heard BAPLA’s plans to go into business on Tuesday, we were grateful and even more astonished by the overwhelming flood of support from so many people to our last blog posting.

Simon Cliffe, the BAPLA Director, used the fotoLibra blog to post his refutation of our complaints, happily writing “The great thing about blogs is that you get an opportunity to respond, which is what I’m doing now.”

He subsequently posted an intemperate attack on fotoLibra on the BAPLA site, accusing us of posting

“a blog that was full of misconceptions that led to many inaccurate statements. Due to the potentially destructive and libellous accusations, BAPLA is forced to respond to reassure members and the industry that fotoLibra is completely mistaken in its perception of BAPLA’s future plans.”

Destructive? Libellous? The great thing about a closed website like BAPLA is that no one gets an opportunity to respond. So we can’t comment on what Simon wrote in the way that Simon could on our blog. We have to reply here.

We are not remotely worried by the sale of mugs and mousemats. That’s an irrelevant diversion. What concerns us is, as we wrote in Wednesday’s blog, is that

“The BAPLA Academy will be directly competing for the subscriptions of the same photographers who supply fotoLibra with its top images. The same graduates, keen amateurs, semi-pros, wedding and studio photographers we work hard to attract, encourage and foster. It’s not about print and mousemat sales versus rights sales, it’s about diverting a body of good, keen and potentially great photographers to ally with BAPLA rather than fotoLibra. That’s not BAPLA’s remit.”

Yet Simon missed that. He writes

“This is the only part of the BAPLA Academy which they seem to have registered; the sale of prints to the public.”

That doesn’t concern us in the least, Simon. We’ve already said that.

What truly concerns us is this: The public purse is only so deep. Who is going to want pay a subscription to fotoLibra as well as to BAPLA? You don’t buy Nike and Reebok, you buy one or the other.

We agreed with Simon at the AGM that we would meet up to discuss this when he returned from his holiday. We’re still expecting to. As we wrote on Wednesday:

“But if they’re determined to do it, then they should talk to us — once we’ve overcome our horror and dismay. We are better placed than any other organisation to help them.”

So Simon posted (on our blog):

“I have agreed a deal with our commercial partners who under my instruction, are getting the project up and running (including full market research), promoting the project and managing the project going forward.”

So it’s a fait accompli. Our participation, advice, help, whatever will clearly not be required. We don’t know who these commercial partners are, or what experience they have in setting up, maintaining and growing a subscription-based roster of photographers.

What is a Trade Association for, if not to listen to and act on behalf of its members? We’re astounded by a move that threatens our livelihood, and our own trade association — to whom we pay subscriptions which presumably go to fund their ‘commercial partners’ — responds to our justifiable concerns by describing them as “destructive and libellous”.

Is that supportive?


BAPLA Shock Horror

October 28th, 2009

Yesterday was the Annual General Meeting of the British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies, our trade body. BAPLA represents the interests of picture libraries large and small, and fotoLibra has been a member since before we started trading. There is a link to the BAPLA web site on every single page of the fotoLibra site.

Nothing prepared us for what we heard at the AGM. Times are tough for everyone, BAPLA as well as fotoLibra. They’ve lost about 50 members over the past year or two, and as the annual fees are substantial, that makes a hefty dent in their finances.

So they have cast around for a way to improve their cash flow. And they’ve come up with the same idea that we came up with seven and a half years ago.

They’ve invented fotoLibra.

More precisely, they have created something called the BAPLA Academy. The idea is that photographers pay an annual fee and get to upload their images to the BAPLA web site where they can be viewed and made available for “non-commercial sales” (a wonderful oxymoron on a par with business ethics, or military intelligence).

I don’t have all the details to hand, because all this came from the BAPLA Director’s presentation and we don’t have a hard copy. But as I stared slack-jawed in amazement at the screen he blithely described the business plan of fotoLibra — except we provide commercial sales; our members make money from their photographs. That’s the whole point of fotoLibra; otherwise they might as well be on Flickr.

The concept of fotoLibra was to provide a platform for any photographer to make money selling his pictures. No tortuous submission procedure, no minimum upload, no “professionals only” barriers, no elitism — just raw market forces. Display and sell. And we provide all the advice and tools the photographer needs to achieve that aim. Jacqui Norman does an astounding job of advising, chivvying, helping, correcting, and pushing fotoLibra member photographers to make their images as saleable as possible. The web site and the Submission Guidelines are packed with information, advice, hints and tips.

Now our own Trade Association — the guys we pay to represent our interests — have announced that they are setting up in direct competition to us. Yvonne and I could not believe what we were hearing. Up went Yvonne’s hand. She was ignored. From personal experience I knew that was a bad move on BAPLA’s part — you ignore Yvonne at your peril. And indeed after the AGM she cornered the BAPLA President, the BAPLA Chairman and the BAPLA Director and subjected them to a withering blast. If they’d forgotten about fotoLibra — as they obviously had — then they were left in no doubt whatsoever that one section of their happy community was disaffected by news of the BAPLA Academy.

They attempted to placate us. The BAPLA Academy was no threat or competition to fotoLibra whatsoever. They’d trialled it with focus groups, and it wasn’t going to be a problem. But looking into their troubled eyes, we could see this was going to be a BIG problem. They simply hadn’t thought of us.

We’ve done this. We’ve sweated blood to set fotoLibra up and it has cost us a fortune. We know how hard it is. It’s a full time job for eight people. And there are only five of us. Without the help of a company like ours, a company that has already ploughed this unique furrow, BAPLA with its 2.5 staff and its capital derived entirely from member subscriptions is going to have a hell of a hard time running this Academy.

The BAPLA Academy will be directly competing for the subscriptions of the same photographers who supply fotoLibra with its top images. The same graduates, keen amateurs, semi-pros, wedding and studio photographers we work hard to attract, encourage and foster.

It’s not about print and mousemat sales versus rights sales, it’s about diverting a body of good, keen and potentially great photographers to ally with BAPLA rather than fotoLibra. That’s not BAPLA’s remit.

But if they’re determined to do it, then they should talk to us — once we’ve overcome our horror and dismay. We are better placed than any other organisation to help them.