Category Archives: International

Google Responds to EU’s Antitrust Case

From ICOMP’s Blog:

Google in Denial

Today’s blog post from Google is, unfortunately, simply another attempt to divert attention away from the devastating impact their self-preferencing has had on the online market, making many of the same old arguments we have seen before.

Commissioner Vestager has been clear that in her view Google’s systematic self preferencing of its own comparison shopping service, along with its demotion of rivals, is in breach of European antitrust rules. But, in spite of the detailed work and analysis of the Commission and others over many years, Google still refuses to acknowledge the impact of its anti-competitive conduct.

If Google truly believes “in the interest of promoting user choice and open competition”, and in the strengths of its arguments, we would urge them to make their case in front of the Commission and complainants at an oral hearing.

The decision is in Google’s hands, but holding a hearing could provide a unique opportunity for Google to present its full defence and for complainants and other interested third parties to offer their perspectives. We have long believed that transparency and a meaningful debate is in everyone’s best interest, and an oral hearing is an important step in ensuring that such a debate takes place.

We look forward to supporting the Commission in taking the case forward and helping to find robust and workable long-term solutions to remedy the harms caused by Google’s anti-competitive practices. ICOMP’s members, who represent a wide range of interests in the digital sphere, will be keen to ensure that effective remedies are speedily reached.

See the whole story on Politico here

**DMLA is a member of ICOMP

Champagne Time With Trevillion!

Trevillion is celebrated for having some of the best creative images out there. And this week we are celebrating!

We are thrilled to announce that Trevillion has just won first prize in CEPIC’s first ever international ‘Stock Photography Awards’ competition.

The striking and dynamic image ‘Letting Go’ captivated the judges imagination with its conceptual visual appeal and dramatic sense of energy.

The purpose of the CEPIC awards is to show how photography can generate visual concepts and ideas and to bring to light those photographers who produce them, by opening a collaborative relationship between photo libraries and photographers.

Congratulations to Dylan Kitchener, the incredibly talented Trevillion Photographer behind this visual treat!

To see more of our wonderful images, just click here and prepare to be amazed!

The winning image below: ‘Letting Go’ by Dylan Kitchener can be viewed fully here.

CEPIC Congress, Warsaw, 2015.

 

Worldwide launch of seasons.agency

New photo agency focusing on beauty photography

Kennebunk, . seasons.agency, a new boutique photo agency, has just opened its doors to the professional stock photography market. The collection introduces an exclusive portfolio of European beauty photography which is set to make a difference.

Emerging from assigned productions of a variety of premium European publishers, the collection presents distinctive images with a focus on professional beauty photography. At the start seasons.agency includes around 100,000 Rights-managed images. In addition to lifestyle productions by leading magazines, the collection also showcases the work of selected individual high-end photographers. Invitations to further independent beauty photographers have already been extended.

Martin Skultety, Managing Director of seasons, emphasizes the difference with other lifestyle portfolios: “There are millions of lifestyle images already available on the global picture market. However, most models are made to look interchangeable and the images are often digitally enhanced. In the case of seasons.agency, all our models are distinctive professionals with a strong character and an authentic, recognizable personality.” Other subjects in the collection include cover shots, food, home and travel.

seasons.agency is another boutique collection created by the team of StockFood, a renowned photo agency based in Munich, Germany. Besides StockFood, the world’s leading food media agency, the company is successfully operating living4media, a premium supplier of images and features depicting interiors and decoration.

“We love professional photography and see room for plenty of growth in the high-end peak of the market. With seasons.agency we are aiming at becoming a leading destination for producers and professional users of high-end beauty photography” said Martin Skultety.

seasons.agency is available in English and German, visitors will automatically be directed to the language and content available in their home country. Further languages will follow soon.

For further information please contact:

seasons.agency
A division of StockFood
Shannon Mahoney
General Manager
109 Lafayette Center
Kennebunk, ME 04043

Tel.: (207) 967-5776
Email: shannon.mahoney@stockfood.com
Web: www.stockfood.com

Europe to accuse Google of illegally abusing its dominance

Financial Times
By Alex Barker, Christian Oliver and Anne-Sylvaine
April 14, 2015, 2:01pm ET

Google will on Wednesday be accused by Brussels of illegally abusing its dominance of search in Europe, a step that ultimately could force it to fundamentally change its business model and pay hefty fines.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, is to say that the US group will soon be served with a formal charge sheet alleging that it breached antitrust rules by diverting traffic from rivals in order to favour its in-house services, according to two people familiar with the case.

Serving Google with a so-called statement of objections will be the opening salvo in one of the defining antitrust cases of the internet era. It could prove as epic as the decade-long battle with Microsoft that ultimately cost the company more than €2bn in fines.

The commission’s move comes after a torrid a five-year investigation that Google came close to settling without charges last year. The draft deal collapsed after fierce objections were raised by ministers in France and Germany, and by some of the continent’s most powerful telecoms and media groups.

The EU’s antitrust case comes against the backdrop of a growing European backlash against Silicon Valley and the economic disruption of the digital age. Once lauded for their innovative spirit, big US tech groups have come under mounting criticism in Europe over their market dominance and the way they handle personal data, especially in the wake of the US internet surveillance scandal.

A decision on charges is to be taken by the college of 28 EU commissioners on Wednesday. Some commissioners are concerned that Ms Vestager has, according to one source, restructured and narrowed the case she inherited from her predecessor Joaquín Almunia. As well as search issues, the investigation has looked at allegations that Google illegally scrapes content from rivals, locks in some publishers into using Google search ads, and makes it hard for advertisers to move campaigns to rival search engines.

Although Google has faced antitrust questions on three continents for several years, the EU move is the first time the company has been accused of formal wrongdoing. It will be given 10 weeks to respond to the allegations and will have the opportunity to call a hearing to make its defence.

Ultimately, the commission has the power to levy fines of up to 10 per cent of Google’s global turnover and can impose far-reaching curbs on its business practices. Almost 20 complainants against Google want the search engine to abide by strict rules that ensure its formula treats its own services — providing results for travel, shopping, and maps — no differently from rivals. Spokespeople for Google and the commission declined to comment.

If the charges are proven, it could take at least a year and probably significantly longer for the commission to make a final decision. Google would probably challenge any ruling that goes against it through the European courts, opening a legal war that could run for years.

The commission’s long attempt to settle the case with Google under Ms Vestager’s predecessor Mr Almunia made it one of the most fraught and politically charged antitrust cases to be dealt with by Brussels.

Google supporters feel the commission’s volte-face on a settlement reflected politics rather than an independent assessment. No EU antitrust case has ever been extended to three settlement offers, or been revived after complainants were formally warned that their case is about to be rejected.

On top of the pressure from Brussels, this week Google is also under scrutiny in France where lawmakers are considering an initiative that would force it to hand over its secret formula for ranking websites.

Revealing our algorithms — our intellectual property — would lead to the gaming of our results, which would be a bad experience for users
– Google

The French senate is likely to adopt a bill this week which would allow the country’s national telecoms regulator to monitor search engines’ algorithms, with sweeping powers to ensure its results are fair and non-discriminatory. The French initiative will become law only if it is adopted by the senate and the lower house of parliament and will also require government backing.

Critics complain that Google’s algorithm can be skewed to hurt rivals and want it published to ensure accountability. Google argues such transparency would make its search engine a target of spam and hand rivals its business secrets for free.

A spokesperson for Google in France said: “We’re transparent about what ranks well on Google, including when we make changes, but by definition, not everyone can come top. Revealing our algorithms — our intellectual property — would lead to the gaming of our results, which would be a bad experience for users.”

The amendment, proposed by centre-right lawmakers and attached to a broader economic reform bill assembled by economy minister Emmanuel Macron, has yet to secure the government backing needed to survive the legislative process and pass in the National Assembly.

But Catherine Morin-Desailly, chair of the Senate’s culture, education and communication committee, told the Financial Times that discussions with the government were encouraging.

“The government is well aware of the issues,” Ms Morin-Desailly said. “It’s a question of ensuring fairness. Too many businesses view search engines as bottlenecks. The net is tightening around [Google].”

If approved, the proposal would give Arcep, France’s telecoms regulator, oversight of any search engine that has sufficient power to “structure the functioning of the digital economy”. Google would be required to provide links to at least three rival search engines on its homepage, and disclose to users the “general principles of ranking”.

Additional reporting by Richard Waters in San Francisco

BAPLA Rights Group survey on Web, Social Media and Apps

 

The BAPLA Rights Group asks for your help in completing their latest survey on rights and standards for website and social use, and app pricing, as they would like to get a US perspective. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey, accessed by the link below. All answers will be treated in complete confidence. Survey responses will be used to compile a report on the latest trends in website, social media and app licensing, which will also form one of the points for discussion at  the BAPLA Focus on Copyright event in London on May 14  and which they will share with DMLA.

Please note that it is not essential to answer all questions in the survey – if you are unable to answer a specific question, please skip that question and move on to the next one. Deadline for responses to the survey is Friday 10th April.

Tim Harris, Chair BAPLA Rights Group

You can take the survey here.  Please take this version only if you are a North American business.

 

 

age fotostock Updates Their Website

 

agefotostock-newdesign1

 

age fotostock, a stock photography agency based in Spain with offices in Barcelona, Madrid, New York, and Paris, launched a new look on their website this week.

The site, http://www.agefotostock.com, has been designed by in-house age fotostock web designers and programmers in direct response to customer demand for an attractive website where themes, categories, collections and offers are easy to find. Along with the new look, age fotostock is introducing two new curated collections, ‘SnapMobileFoto’ and ‘Unconventional’.

Moving alongside developments in technology, the business model of the stock photography industry and its ecosystem has changed constantly and dramatically in the past years, both in web design trends as well as the clients’ approach to licensing images. age fotostock, a company in the business for more than 40 years, still individually owned, and always “on the crest of the wave,” sticks to the principle of protecting photography and photographers while adapting to market demands. The company has undertaken the development of a new website that recognizes and incorporates the needs of change with a contemporary and innovative design. The enhanced navigation and visual offer are just some of many improvements that have been made to the age fotostock and THP platforms following the initial website launch in 1997.

Alfonso Gutiérrez, CEO of age fotostock, comments, “We have researched the market and utilized the skills of our in house IT developers and designers to create a new look that is unique, smart and functional, presenting our great variety of content in a manner convenient for clients. We are pleased to offer two new creative and contemporary collections that embrace the growing changes in both visual culture and technology, Unconventional and SnapMobilePhoto. Both collections are increasingly rapidly with a wealth of fresh imagery.”

Julieanne Eason, Content Manager, says, “The emphasis on showing our photographers” work is an essential part of the age fotostock philosophy. The work of photographers is the basis of the new visual culture that the internet has introduced in our global society. New media has profoundly altered everything, from licensing models to rewarding creativity, and offers fresh possibilities that photographers need to assimilate. We are facilitating changes in order to present a world of possibilities in which visual creators continue to benefit.”

Charlie Hebdo shooting: a barbaric act against media freedom

 from the European Federation of Journalists

BN3933logo-CharlieHebdo1111

 

 

 

 

“The ‘massacre’ which took place today at the premises of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris is a barbaric act of violence against journalists and media freedom,” says the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ).

According to the latest media reports, twelve people were killed in the shooting. Among them, nine are journalists and two are policemen, according to media reports. Media reported that at least two armed, hooded gunmen have taken part in the shooting at the office of Charlie Hebdo at 11.30am today.

The EFJ has expressed its deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims. The EFJ President, Mogens Blicher Bjerregaard, will travel to Paris later today or tomorrow to honour the victims and get in touch with the journalists’ unions in France for support actions to the families of the victims.

The EFJ has condemned this barbaric act of violence against journalists and media freedom. It has called on the French authorities to make every effort to punish this horrific crime.

“This is not only an attack on journalists but also an attack on the freedom of the media. Journalists today are facing greater dangers and threats,” says Blicher Bjerregaard.

In 2014, 118 journalists and media workers died for doing their jobs. In Europe, 9 journalists were killed and they were taken place mostly in Ukraine.

In view of this horrific attack, the EFJ reiterates its call on national governments, the European Union and intergovernmental organisations (including the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe – OSCE) to intensify their efforts in ensuring the protection of journalists in Europe.

EU May Revise Google’s Antitrust Settlement

European Union antitrust regulators are preparing to step up their investigations into Google Inc. on several fronts, including revisiting a proposed settlement over its search-engine practices that has met with unprecedented opposition.

The European Commission is likely to revise some terms of the proposed settlement with Google that were announced in February.  See Wall Street Article here.

EU May Revise Google’s Antitrust Settlement, Says Source

By Tom Fairless  from the Wall Street Journal

European Union antitrust regulators are preparing to step up their investigations into Google Inc. on several fronts, including revisiting a proposed settlement over its search-engine practices that has met with unprecedented opposition.

The European Commission is likely to revise some terms of the proposed settlement with Google that were announced in February.

BRUSSELS—European Union antitrust regulators are preparing to step up their investigations into Google Inc. on several fronts, including revisiting a proposed settlement over its search-engine practices that has met with unprecedented opposition.

The European Commission is likely to revise some terms of the proposed settlement announced in February, aimed at dealing with concerns that the company abuses its dominance of online searches in Europe, a person with knowledge of the situation said Tuesday.

A firm decision on whether to revise Google’s proposed commitments will be made in September, the person said.

The admission marks something of an about-face for EU competition chief Joaquín Almunia, who had previously insisted that the commitments agreed by Google were sufficient to meet the EU’s competition concerns.

A final decision on the case may now be taken by Mr. Almunia’s successor after he leaves office in November, the person said.

The European Commission is also deepening a second line of investigation into Google’s business practices relating to its Android operating system for mobile phones. The Commission recently sent out fresh requests for information from handset makers and other interested parties on their dealings with Android, a year after sending out a first batch of questionnaires, the person said.

The Android inquiry isn’t yet a formal investigation, but it is likely to become one, the person said.

The decision to deepen the investigation follows intense opposition to the Commission’s proposed search settlement with Google, both from top European politicians and the companies it was supposed to help. Some of the companies that lodged complaints against Google have said they would prefer no deal to the one negotiated by Mr. Almunia.

The Commission has decided that some concerns raised by complainants in response to letters explaining the EU’s settlement decision may be valid, the person said.

The concerns relate to the possible preferential treatment of Google’s services beyond their visibility on the search page, and the design of an auction mechanism aimed at allowing rivals to bid for better placement on the page. Some new complaints may also be integrated into the case that weren’t previously linked to it, the person said.

A spokesman for Google referred to previous comments that the company has made “significant changes to address the Commission’s concerns, greatly increasing the visibility of rival services and addressing other specific issues.”

 

CEPIC Congress 2014 in Berlin

 

Berlin-Photo6

by Cathy Aron, PACA Executive Director

The CEPIC Congress was held this year in Berlin, a city of many contrasts. From the beauty of the forests, rivers and parks that take up much of the land to the remnants and reminders of the Berlin Wall and the Holocaust Memorial, you are constantly reminiscent of the conflicted history of this capital. There is an amazing amount of construction going on everywhere you turn, both reconstructing old buildings to their original grace and new architecture reflecting the new 21st century style.

This was, perhaps, the perfect setting for the 2014 CEPIC Congress as we reflected on old and new ways of doing business and learned of the new technologies that will drive our industry in the future. The move to a downtown hotel location seemed a good one and the Congress moved smoothly through the 3-day event. The entire conference was held on one floor of the hotel, which made it easy for attendees to navigate.

Those of us invited to the BAPLA/Virtual Images Group’s Opening Reception at the British Embassy were impressed by the modern structure of the building and all the security that surrounds it. It was a delightful evening of food and drink and catching up with old friends!

The Congress itself was extremely well run and included more sessions than before. This year the sessions were well attended and a few were standing room only. Favorites were the EU Google Panel, The Bing Search Panel and From the RDI to the CIF.

The annual party included a band in an outdoor courtyard at the Kalkscheune. A lovely warm night with plenty of lively conversations, food and more drinks!! Everyone seemed to have a great time.

A picture-perfect Garden Party, hosted by AKG Images at their Berlin Office, was a nostalgic way to end the week Not only was Justus Göpel (Former owner of AKG, now deceased) instrumental in the establishment of CEPIC, but the AKG building, a beautiful 19th century home, housed the first CEPIC office. It was wonderful to be hosted by Katrin Göpel, Jürgen Raibel and the rest of the staff.

Thanks to Sylvie Fodor and Carlos Vicente for another stimulating meeting.

No word was given on next year’s location, but we will be keep you posted. You can read the CEPIC press release here.