Behind the Visual China storm: How to get out of the three losers predicament?

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 Behind the Visual China storm: How to get out of the three losers predicament?


Copyright Photo Gallery Visual China is on the cusp of the storm.

The incident was triggered by a black hole photograph. On the evening of October 10, the official website of the European Southern Observatory issued a black hole photo in the form of a press release. According to the website instructions, as long as the source is clearly labeled, users can use it for free and not exclusive. But soon, Visual Chinas Photo Gallery released the photo and marked it with a price tag, and the controversy ensued.

According to a survey by journalists of the Beijing News, in the field of photo copyright in China, there are still some problems, such as the lack of legal awareness of practitioners and the high cost of defending the rights of creators. In this context, the copyright photo library represented by Visual China acts as the intermediary between the photographer and the photo user.

Despite the opacity of the price of the picture and the low share ratio, the centralized rights protection mode of the picture library objectively strives for the rights and interests of photographers to a certain extent, and plays a positive role in promoting the healthy development of the picture copyright market.

In the view of the industry, if we blame the photo gallery blindly, the legitimate rights and interests of the photographer can not be guaranteed, the photo gallery can not operate normally, and the cost of using the picture will increase. The ultimate injury will be the whole industry.

_Visual China apologizes for non-conforming pictures afterwards.

Opaque prices

The above insiders pointed out that the current mode of operation of commercial photo library is mainly based on the Internet, users can browse, search and pay through the copyright trading platform.

Its operation is mainly divided into three parts, including accepting the entrustment of upstream content providers, acting for the rights and interests of visual materials by photo library company, and the profits from the sale of the rights and interests of materials are shared by the photo library and the author.

Secondly, the image library processes the visual material, and the original material really becomes the commodity of the picture library. Therefore, editing ability and background processing ability are the important manifestations of the competitiveness of photo library companies. Finally, the marketing of visual materials, mostly take a one-to-one online approach, to maximize the development of image value.

Former visual Chinese photographer Su Yang told the Beijing News that visual China has editors on duty from morning to night, and the main job is to select the pictures uploaded by the contracted photographers.

Generally speaking, the price of pictures exclusively authorized to Visual China is higher than that of non-exclusive ones. In addition, the price of pictures is also related to the reputation of photographers.

In contrast, the price is opaque. Generally speaking, when the picture is sold, the photographer divides it according to the proportion stipulated in the contract. If the photos are selected by the self-media, there is traffic sharing. The larger the traffic, the higher the score.

In Su Yangs opinion, the money paid by Visual China to ordinary contracted photographers only accounts for a small fraction of their selling price. A few years ago, the photos sold by Su Yang were basically non-exclusive, i.e. uploaded to multiple platforms. For each photo sold, it cost only a dozen yuan.

Su Yang said that as a former contracted photographer, he not only did not know the price of the picture, but also did not know the actual sales volume.

Behind this is the rapid growth of visual Chinas profits. Its three-quarter report of 2018 shows that from the beginning of 2018 to the end of this report, visual Chinas business income at the merger level was 7.12 million yuan, and net profit attributable to shareholders of listed companies was 22.06 million yuan, which accounted for 81.81% of the total revenue of listed companies? The companys core business: visual content and services? Achieving business income of 57.369 million yuan, the same. The increase was 34.48%.

In addition, visual Chinas gross interest rate has increased year by year, from 55.39% in 2014 to 65.86% in 2017 and 63.73% in the third quarter of 2018.

How to confirm originality?

Photo enthusiast Kevin said that to be able to contract with top galleries, works need to reach a certain level, therefore, to become a copyright Gallery contract photographer, itself is a recognition of ability.

Kevin said that only contracted photographers can upload pictures to the gallery. When uploading pictures, you should also write the title, description, picture type (editing or creative pictures), edit keywords, and wait for the gallery review.

Su Yang told the Beijing News that visual China has editors on duty from morning till night, and the main job is to select photos uploaded by contracted photographers. The editors of the selected maps were divided into sections according to their geographical locations. After they moved from Anhui to Sichuan, the contact editors were also replaced by the editors in charge of the Sichuan section.

In Su Yangs opinion, compared with other copyright photo galleries, visual Chinese editors pay more attention to maintaining the relationship with contracted photographers, and often contact photographers on their own initiative. As far as he knows, visual China often finds photographers at first, and some professional photographers of higher level sign contracts, and then through these people, snowball to recruit more photographers.

It says that this kind of contractual relationship is similar to consign my things in your shop, but the consignor still has ownership. Therefore, photographers still own the copyright of pictures.

Photographer Mumu has signed a contract with Visual China for less than five years. Usually, he mainly uploads his local photos of Luoyang to the gallery.

Wood introduction, the picture library is divided into editorial pictures and creative pictures, the former can be understood as documentary, the latter contains late creativity.

As for the pricing of pictures, the quality of pictures, such as creativity and scarcity, can be compared with similar pictures, the more similar pictures, the less creative. In addition, every photo sold by a photographer in the library can be divided into different parts from the platform, usually between 20% and 40%.

For a gallery, judging whether the uploader is the real author of the photo is an important task, usually in a variety of ways. For example, some photographers set their own names on the camera before shooting. In addition, uploaded photos have resolution requirements, some of which reach 12 million pixels, usually only the original author will have such high-definition images.

In the early morning of December 12, Visual China apologized through its official microblog. Network screenshots

The much-criticized rights-preserving marketing

New Beijing News reporter noted that with the expansion of business scale, the market competition in the library trading market has also entered a white-hot stage. The rights-based marketing model has been criticized repeatedly in the major photo user media industry.

A senior figure in the photo copyright market disclosed that the backstage system of the photo library automatically captures the infringement of various websites, and often does not defend the rights when it is discovered. When the infringed pictures accumulate to a certain amount, it protects the rights and concludes the passive copyright transaction by prosecuting and promoting at the same time.

These people emphasized that passive copyright trading is an important part of the revenue of photo library. In order to facilitate the infringement of their own image library, some photo agencies often change the size and location of copyright watermarking, and it is difficult for the website to shield the image with the watermarking of photo agency through technical means.

One official in charge of a central media website once said that it was difficult to screen the copyright of pictures one by one because of the huge amount of information on the website. Before that, we had purchased another library service, and the law of another library often reminded us of infringement, and then marketing intervened in negotiations, which made it difficult for people not to doubt hisrights promotion.

In view of the binding mode of safeguarding rights + marketing, Sweijiang, a lawyer of Shanghai Dabang Law Firm, also believes that this is a common phenomenon in the industry. Many Internet companies adopt this way to promote their products strongly. However, if defined legally, it is necessary to weigh whether it constitutes extortion according to the seriousness of the plot, but it is undeniable that it will undoubtedly increase the cost of safeguarding rights for both sides.

According to the charts published in the 2008 Photo Industry Analysis Report, from 2015 to 2017, the number of photo copyright litigation cases increased year by year, reaching 4000 cases in 2017. The average amount of compensation awarded has also increased year by year, reaching 2,500 yuan per piece in 2017, and the growth rate is rising.

It is worth mentioning that, combing the judgment found that in these litigation cases, behind the name of rights photographers, mostly for the library platform agents in the actual litigation.

_By the time of publication, the official website of Visual China could not be opened normally.

The positive role that should not be neglected

Judging from the existing cases, the copyright protection of pictures in China is far less optimistic than the copyright protection of words. A lawyer pointed out to the Beijing News that the cost of infringement is low, while the high cost of safeguarding rights is the crux. Few people will sue for a picture.

In Kevins view, the domestic copyright market still needs to be regulated, especially in the field of pictures, piracy and other infringements are common, many people still think in concept, Baidu search maps can be directly used.

In his mind, from the photographers standpoint, visual China does provide protection for the creators. On this basis, it will be more convenient for photographers to sell photos and safeguard their rights.

Kevin said it would be difficult for photographers to defend their rights as individuals if they had not signed a contract with the platform, so the group of photographers seldom took the initiative to defend their rights. But after signing a contract with the platform, the gallery will investigate the unauthorized use of pictures and take the initiative to help the photographers safeguard their rights.

Mumu told Xinjing News that in the field of photo copyright which is not optimistic at present, the copyright Gallery represented by Visual China has made some efforts.

In its view, in the current photographic copyright is ignored, infringement occurs everywhere environment, copyright Gallery has made a certain contribution to the protection of the interests of photographers? In its view, the copyright issue in the field of photography and photography is not only reflected in the copyright awareness of the user, but also the copyright awareness of many photographers or media themselves is not high. When someone steals a picture, as long as they do not distort their original intentions and violate laws and regulations, photographers are reluctant to pursue it.

As a photographer, Mumu has had the experience of stealing pictures published on social platforms. Considering the high cost, he did not defend his rights in the end. However, it would be better if these pictures were authorized to the gallery. Mumu said that Visual China would take the initiative to defend copyright when it found that copyright pictures had been stolen, but would not inform the photographer that only after the successful safeguard, the account received compensation, the photographer would know.

A senior photo practitioner told the Beijing News that if the photo library is blamed for its suspension, the legitimate rights and interests of photographers can not be guaranteed, the picture library can not operate normally, the cost of using the picture increases, the users who abide by the norms have no plans to use, the phenomenon of piracy can not be curbed, and the ultimate injury will be the entire industry.

_On April 11, the Central Officer of the League sent a micro-text criticizing Visual China.

Market activities need to operate within the legal framework

Yao Huanqing, deputy director of the Civil and Commercial Law Science Research Center of Renmin University of China and an expert on intellectual property rights, clearly pointed out that photographersworks involve many rights, and that the gallery cant and cant have all the rights of photographers, but can only be partially represented.

Yao Huanqing pointed out that the copyright law stipulates that the rights of signature and publication cannot be transferred. The reproduction, distribution and implementation of network communication in property rights should also be dealt with in accordance with the agreement between the gallery and the photographer.

Yao Huanqing said that as far as China is concerned, the library can not be entirely authorized by photographers. There are many copyright rights. If the photographer is entirely authorized to the library, it will increase the operating cost of the library, which is also unrealistic.

Ding Jinkun, a lawyer at Shanghai Dabang Law Firm, pointed out that the principal-agent agreement between photographers and the gallery is a way for photographers to voluntarily abandon the right of signature. This abandonment needs to pay a certain price. But many photographers do not clearly define the meaning behind it. Once they submit their signature to the gallery, they are likely to be in a passive position.

Lian Chenghe, a lawyer at Jindu Law Firm, said that the use and protection of intellectual property rights still need to be promoted by relevant institutions. It is indisputable for the administrative organs to carry out law enforcement or administrative activities under the framework of copyright law, but market activities still need to operate under the legal framework, so as to achieve long-term development. We cant always hope that the administrative organs will control it in depth.

In addition, in view of the temporary closure of Visual China website, Lian Chenghe pointed out that many institutions have purchased the right to use Visual China pictures, and now the website can not be used, This is based on the agreement between Visual China and users, users can pursue the responsibility for breach of contract on the website.

A Picture to Understand the Visual China Storm

(Kevin and Mumu are aliases according to the requirements of the respondents.)

Source of this article: Responsible Editor No. 37 of the Serious Case Unit: Shi Jianlei_NBJ11331