Posts Tagged ‘National Portrait Gallery’

The BAPLA Quiz

March 20th, 2014

Life working in a picture library isn’t just wine and roses, you know. There’s only so much disporting ourselves in sylvan glades we can get through in a day, and there can be such a thing as a surfeit of ambrosia and an excess of nectar. From time to time we are forced to descend from our ivory citadels and face the gritty reality of everyday life, away from our cloistered, chauffeured and charmed lives, and deal with Ordinary People, who have to get by on Wine. And Beer. Occasionally we even have to confront what we believe is called Hard Work.

Such a day came yesterday evening, in the guise of the BAPLA (British Association of Picture Libraries & Agencies) Quiz. Goodness, we had to work! It was so-o-o Hard! A nasty man kept asking us difficult questions — a proper interrogation it was — and he ignored me when I plaintively demanded more nectar and ambrosia, making me drink Beer and Wine instead, and asking me more hard questions. I won’t be doing that again in a hurry.

From a human PoV this event was much like a pub quiz, except the participants were all picture libraries and picture researchers; the nymphs, satyrs, gods and goddesses of the image world. We congregated at the Yorkshire Grey in Theobalds Road, hard by Gray’s Inn in the centre of London, on Earth.

All the teams had exotic names, coincidentally mirroring the names we use back home in Arcadia.

Graham, Llinos and Jacqui couldn’t be coaxed from their dreaming spires, so the fotoLibra team consisted of:

  • Charlotte Lippmann, Picture Researcher
  • Beverley Ballard, Picture Researcher
  • Martyn Goddard, Photographer
  • Damien Gaillard, fL Technical Development Manager
  • Yvonne Seeley, fL Marketing Director, and
  • Gwyn Headley (that’s me), fl MD.

Each team had to have a minimum of two picture researchers, and so we are very grateful to Beverley and Charlotte for putting up with us.

The questions were compiled and enforced by Steve Lake of 4 Corners Images, and he was merciless. No, implacable. No, unrelenting. Yes, all three, and more.

For example, we were shown Photos of Celebs When Young. We got 3 out of 20 right. Who on earth knew that José Mourinho used to have horns?

Then followed questions of every sort, such as “What does the term Lyonnaise mean when applied to French cooking?”

We had a secret weapon here. Damien, our TDM, is from Lyons, and his brother is a top chef in Paris. So “Potatoes,” I said decisively. “Cream,” said Bev. Nothing, said Damien. We left it blank.

The answer was Onions. “Onions? Everything in France has onions!” complained Martyn.

Finally the results came in. There were tears. There was laughter. There was gross injustice. To show how remorseless Question Master Steve was, he slashed 20 points from the British Library for writing ‘Euston Square’ instead of ‘Euston Road’ .

fotoLibra only came fourth, despite our clear superiority. We would have won by a large margin if the other teams hadn’t known more than us. Not fair.

The official results (subject to scrutineering) were

  1. The Bridgman Art Library
  2. Mary Evans
  3. Offside Sports Images
  4. fotoLibra
  5. Camera Press
  6. National Portrait Gallery
  7. British Library
  8. Superstock

So here we are this morning, back in our ivory tower, re-insulated from the οἱ ολλοί, gazing out at the world (ach-y-fi! nasty, dirty place!) and I’m contemplating a quiet bacchanalia or two to restore my flagging spirits.

Ah! Here comes Pan! I’ll have to go — gotta dance, gotta sing. See you later!

This is posted in an effort to placate Owen Elias, who wrote about my last blog “Another moaning tirade. Do you never have anything positive to say?”

It’s rare for a picture library to make the national news, but that’s what the National Portrait Gallery managed today.

In March this year a Wikipedia administrator appropriated three thousand high-resolution images from the NPG website and published them to Wikipedia.

The NPG contacted Wikipedia and asked for the removal of the images. Wikipedia ignored the request. So the NPG issued a lawyer’s letter.

A spokesman for Wikipedia, an amazing and wonderful resource which I use daily, eventually deigned to respond — in one of the most arrogant, high-handed, dismissive, patronising, offensive, overweening blogs I have ever had the pleasure to read.

The National Portrait Gallery, the repository of Britain’s heritage of people paintings, is derided as an antiquated, fusty old dinosaur of an organisation, hopelessly out of touch with spiffy new C21 ways. It wants to CHARGE for images, ferkrissake!

Well, you can read it for yourself here.

The comments are a joy, by turns placatory and inflammatory.

And what it all boils down to is this: should everything be free, or should we pay for people’s work?

To which, I guess, everyone at heart would share the same response: everything should be free for me, but I want to be paid for my work.

The Wikipedia / NPG confrontation is a no-brainer; it’s straightforward theft, it’s illegal, and Wikipedia should cease and desist instantly. No argument. Being British, the NPG is unlikely to pursue for damages.

But what I cannot understand is how Wikipedia got its hands on 3,000 hi-res images from the NPG (which, frankly, charges an awful lot of money for the use of its images, so it is no saint either) in the first place? Nor can I understand why it needs them — the NPG has indicated that it is happy to allow Wikipedia to display small lo-res copies of the images, which is all you need on a web site. Why on earth would Wikipedia want to hold on to this stolen property?

And does the NPG have no security? If anyone downloads a hi-res image from fotoLibra, they pay for it. We know all about it. How could the NPG have let three THOUSAND expensive hi-res images slip through their fingers? Or were they hacked?

I think we should be told.