BAPLA confirms its support of Article 13 to ensure protection for photographers and visual artists

British Association of Picture Libraries & Agencies

As discussions over the EU Copyright Directive continue, BAPLA (the British Association of Picture Libraries & Agencies) wishes to reiterate the importance of Article 13 to photographers and their representatives, who are uniquely vulnerable within an eco-system dominated by content sharing platforms.

Many rights holders experience a “value gap” online where they receive only a portion of the revenues generated as a result of their creative endeavours. For photographers and visual artists, whose work is easily shown in full on screen, this too often becomes a “value block”, where no remuneration at all flows back to image owners from content sharing platforms.

Article 13 redresses this through effective and proportionate measures to ensure that works shared online are properly licensed. BAPLA supports regulation to ensure that online content sharing platforms engage effectively with creators.

BAPLA deplores the misrepresentations of Article 13 which have been propagated by extensive and expensive messaging on some content sharing platforms. Such messaging has exaggerated and distorted the impact of Article 13. The article does not mean the ‘end of the internet’ or a ‘ban on memes’, as these are generally protected by ‘copyright exceptions’.

The Article has been carefully considered to ensure that it narrows the value gap whilst allowing users of content to continue to view, use and share high quality works. It is disingenuous to suggest that a fair deal for creators disadvantages users of content. Quite the contrary, non-commercial users of content will automatically also be covered by licenses entered into between rights holders and platforms under Article 13, thus they will be shielded from exposure to copyright infringement in respect of the content they upload, unlike today. Plus, users’ rights to enjoy content are inextricably linked to fair remuneration for those who create and distribute content. Unchallenged control by content sharing platforms benefits neither party.

BAPLA understands that all rights holder groups remain committed to the principle of closing the value gap. In the last week representatives of the audio-visual and sports sectors have voiced concerns that mitigation measures introduced into Article 13 undermine existing protections under EU case law. Whilst BAPLA shares these concerns, it does not support their proposed solution to limit Article 13 to apply only to musical works and phonograms.

BAPLA is concerned that relying on case law based only on the current copyright regime makes creators vulnerable. The current position creates ever increasing degrees of uncertainty regarding the commercial use of content including images online. We would be deeply concerned to see an unaltered continuation of a copyright regime which has offered insufficient protection for photographers and visual artists.

Fairness requires that the concerns of all rights holders should be addressed. It would be unfair to leave one sector, such as stills photographers, behind. Further, we see the proposed mitigation measures incorporated in re-drafts of Article 13 favouring larger rights holders over smaller ones. Ironically, the rights holders who have greatest need of protection may be left out from the benefits of this provision. Similarly, differentiating between low and high value content would discriminate between industries and between content within each industry.

Isabelle Doran, BAPLA Head of Policy and Public Affairs commented:

“Article 13 remains important to photographers and visual artists. We urge the European Council and Parliament to continue working to ensure a fair outcome that will give effective and appropriate protection to all rights holders.”


BAPLA (the British Association of Picture Libraries & Agencies) is the UK trade association for picture libraries and agencies, founded in 1975, incorporating a broad and diverse membership, including: sole traders; major stock, production and news agencies; SMEs; cultural heritage industries and image technology companies.

A substantial percentage of images seen every day in print and digital media are supplied by BAPLA members.

The UK image licensing market is the second largest global market in the world. BAPLA members provide a ‘vital economic link’ for many professional photographers, supporting their ability to derive income and reinvest in their creativity.

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