Licensing model instead of upload filters

Licensing model instead of upload filters: BVPA and VG Bild-Kunst are aiming for a comprehensive collective licence for the use of professional image material on social media platforms.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and many others operate an extremely profitable business model, as they generate high advertising revenues with relatively low costs for content. The current copyright directive now obliges platforms to take responsibility for third party – often professional – content uploaded by private users. This is also intended to ensure, for example, the proper licensing of high-quality visual material. In order to make this possible efficiently, the Federal Association of Professional Image Providers (BVPA) and the Collecting Society Bild-Kunst (VG Bild-Kunst) are striving for a joint and comprehensive licensing offer for platforms. These comprehensive collective licences would make the so-called “upload filters” for the area of rights control obsolete.

VG Bild-Kunst and BVPA have been in intensive exchange for several months now, with the aim of offering social media platforms comprehensive licenses for the use of professionally created, high-quality images by private users of the platforms from a single source.

Not all details have been clarified yet, but the common desire to create a holistic solution for the licensing of professional image material by private users unites both organisations. Such a licence could cover the entire international range of images through a single contract, as both VG Bild-Kunst and the picture agencies also represent photographers and picture agencies outside Germany. The licence would even, as already provided for in the draft law on platform liability, extend to so-called “outsiders”, i.e. photographers and agencies who have not expressly agreed to the agreement. This would provide comprehensive legal certainty for the platforms and their private users.

The model of collective licensing is flexible for individual authors: if individual right holders (authors* or picture agencies) do not wish to join this collective licence, they can indicate to the platforms which works should be excluded from it and therefore may not be used. Facebook has already developed an application called “Rights Manager” for this purpose.

The joint licensing model of BVPA and VG Bild-Kunst would have no effect on the terms of use of the platforms, which regulate, inter alia, which rights a user of the platform grants to the platform in respect of his own self-created photographs.

Last week, VG Bild-Kunst and BVPA issued a joint statement to the ministries concerned with the draft law (Copyright Service Provider Act regulating platform responsibility) announcing their possible cooperation and calling on the ministries to draft the rules in such a way that they do not impede image licensing.

Licensing takes precedence over filtering,” says Urban Pappi, managing director of VG Bild-Kunst. “We think it is right that professional authors whose high-quality image material makes a significant contribution to increasing the attractiveness of the platforms should be rewarded in future”.

Torsten Hoch, chairman of the BVPA board, underlines: “Our member agencies do not want to stand in the way of private use of their images. However, in our view, appropriate remuneration is a matter of course, because professional image material enhances the social media platforms and thus contributes significantly to the platforms’ revenues“.

The joint statement of BVPA and VG Bild-Kunst can be found below as a linked PDF for reading: .

Translated with (free version)

Original press release: