CEPIC Statement on Works of Visual Arts in the Public Domain

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CEPIC press release – 25 February, 2019.

CEPIC expresses its extreme disappointment at the EU copyright Directive as we see that last minute compromises were reached that will directly hurt CEPIC members specialised in fine art, history and vintage photography.

Some of these libraries are attached to cultural institutions and contribute to their financing – this not only by “selling postcards” as the agreed compromise text implies.

Indeed, the provisions related to works of visual arts in the public domain were agreed behind closed doors, following no impact assessment and no consultation with the various sectors that will be affected. 

With no evidence as to the advantage to the larger public, the  compromise provisions will directly hurt the legitimate interests of small private businesses who support cultural heritage and in some European countries the cultural sector institutions who have invested millions in the digitization of  photography and contribute, avoiding tax-payer cost, to the preservation and distribution of cultural heritage and its promotion to the wider public.

This provision is discriminatory to photographers working for cultural institutions, and in some cases it discriminates against the interests of those cultural institutions themselves who rely on income generation derived from licensing works of visual arts in their collections.

In the long run the larger public will suffer from a lack of investment in digitization, indexation and proper documentation of  cultural heritage material.          

We regret that these provisions were introduced without proper assessment and that the private heritage sector was used as a “pawn” in a larger negotiation. As a result we see that the EU copyright directive will penalise rather than promote large parts of the visual sector.

We ask for Chapter 3 Art. 10 b) and Recital 30 a) to be removed.


CEPIC represents hundreds of Picture Libraries and Agencies representing hundreds of thousands of photographers whose core business is the direct licensing of visual content off-line and online.

Acting as right holders, Picture Libraries and Agencies license digital asset for all kinds of commercial uses, to newspapers, magazines, advertising, broadcasters, etc. CEPIC members are continuously adaptive towards innovative technology solutions for the growth in digital enterprises and have developed sophisticated digital platforms to both market digital content online and provide digital access to images.

Amongst CEPIC members are global players such as Getty Images, Magnum Photos and Alamy, fine arts libraries such as Bridgeman Images, historical archives such as Roger-Viollet and Fratelli Alinari, news photo syndication such as Le Figaro, news agencies such as Belga, TT and DPA as well as representatives for European trade associations AEAPAF, BAPLA, BLF, BVPA, SAB, and SNAPIG.

CEPIC’s President is Alfonso Gutierrez. CEPIC’s Executive Director is Sylvie Fodor