When we published the statement by the British Association of Picture Libraries (BAPLA) about the Digital Economy the comments came in thick and fast. We decided to publish all the comment to ensure an open debate can take place and also highlighted the various opinions in the updated post.

The reactions came mostly from campaigners at www.stop43.org.uk. This organisation with thousands of member has thrown up a lobby campaign to ensure clause43, the one about Orphan works, was taken out of the Digital Economy Bill. Now that the clause has been successfully removed a number of organisations have claimed to have an influence on this decisions. One of them was the British Association of Picture Libraries.

Near the end of the stop43 campaign an article was published entitled: ‘Bapla’s big fat lie’ The article proposed that Bapla was unrightfully claiming victory. The article claims:

‘But the biggest lie, inevitably, has come from the British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies. Inevitably because aside from Mandelson and his cronies in the Intellectual Property Office, BAPLA were by far the biggest losers when Clause 43 went up in smoke’ It goes on to say: ’Now, in a sly piece of historical revisionism, BAPLA are attempting to give the impression that last week’s events were all a result of their uniting the UK photo industry, stressing their interventions to change elements of the doomed clause.’

I spoke to Paul Ellis at Stop43 who explained the campaign’s position with regards to the role Bapla has played. He re-itterated that he felt Bapla is trying to rewrite history. He also said that the campaign has direct evidence that Bapla were not lobbying against, but in fact, in favour, of retention of clause 43. He feels Bapla now got caught out. Bapla, in turn, has released a statement explaining their position and denying some of the allegations. We are publishing this statement separately today. This is not the end of the argument as another statement on the stop43 site Claims:

‘As BAPLA’s website statement demonstrates, BAPLA do not appear to understand this. They still seem to be operating on the obsolete command-and-control assumption that they can control the news. They appear not to have realised that photographers already know the truth because they have lived it, and that they are discredited in the eyes of every photographer who actively campaigned in any way.’ The statement goes on to say:

‘Because of the conflict of interests their membership appears to represent, BAPLA might best be advised to get out of the negotiating and lobbying game altogether. Their current attempts to rewrite widely-known recent history and save face with their sponsors are unseemly and should stop’

The biggest concern for stop43 seems the conflict of interest between big media organisations and independent photographers. It feels that Bapla represents both, creating this inherent conflict. In its statement stop43 aims to make some first suggestions in resolving this conflict. This may not resolve the rift between the photographers that identify with stop43 and Bapla for now though.