Digitization: We represented stock photography at the EU

The creative industry is one of the EU's pillars of future growth and innovation in the age of digitization

Tomas Speight, October: On 12.10. I, speaking for PantherMedia, represented the interests of the stock photography agencies in the environment of digital change at the EU. A high level panel event was held at the representation of the State of Bavaria to the EU. The conference was entitled "High-level Conference: Jobs, Growth & Europe’s Digital Future". You can find more information here. The day was truely fascinating and the mutlitude of panels allowed many insights into the diversity of the creative industry and its challenges. What became clear is that digitization in the creative industry is not a uniform challange and is at very different stages leading to a diverse range of wishes towards the EU ranging from protectionism to level playing fields. It was obvious that the stock photograhy industry was far ahead of the curve with its full immerson in digitization from the early ninties. It has sustained some of the furtherst reaching changes only comparable to the music industry.

Digitization was the main topic at the meeting in Bruessels

© PantherMedia Stockagency / 

My personal goal for the the panel I was on (No Time for Business as Usual: Digital Innovators and their Audiences in the Digital Age) was to focus on the risks that develop from the formation of closed or controlled market places (Eco-Systems) similar to the smartphone and computer environment which is also possible in the stock photography industry stemming from certain recent acquisitions of stock agencies by major extra EU entities. This development brings with it the risk that access to buyers could become increasingly difficult for smaller stock agencies or individual photographers. In addition I addressed the issue that there is not a level playing field within the not very single European digital market caused by a patchwork of tax and social security rules that benefit extra EU entities particularly regarding Germany. I was glad to see that notes were taken when I was making these points and I am hopeful this might lead to some improvements. I was not one of those that called for protectionism. Competitiveness is the best protection based on a level playing field. I also noted that in spite of the all the ballyhoo about start ups these days programmes to help businesses re-invent themselves would potentially be a very good way to maintain competitiveness and job security. 

I would like to expressly thank the EU and Mr MEP Christain Ehler that the creative industry has now been made and top level priority with the EU. The creative industry is a future relevant industry to Europe in may ways. Right up to potential for the creation of high qualitiy jobs away from crowed cities and infrastructures.

I remain concerned that the breath-taking speed and extreme diversity of the effects of digitization is still being underestimated and that time and resources are still being deployed for the defence of beleaguered historical business models (naturally with the smallest possible change). Sure, self-publishing was raised but AI-Bot written bestsellers as a severe disruption risk for authors were not mentioned. And anybody who has the slightest understanding of AI must know that they are right around the next corner.

Find a summary of the event here.

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