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Corbis Cancel Conference

2 September 2000 - EPUK

Hours before the opening of this year’s Visa Pour L’Image in Perpignan, Corbis have cancelled their planned September 8th festival press conference.

The cancellation of the press conference, the centrepiece of Corbis’ proposed Perpignan presentation, and listed at the top of Corbis’ agenda of “key opportunities” in their now-notorious Plan For Perpignan, is yet another blow to the company’s credibility as they stumble from one crisis to the next.

The leaking of the Plan For Perpignan to EPUK and Photo District News Online has provoked a storm of protest from photographers outraged at the contents. “They’ve shot themselves in both feet”, commented one Corbis contributor. “Insane”, groaned another. One observer described it as “a suicide note”.

Corbis gave no reason for the cancellation, but industry insiders had widely predicted that the press conference would turn into yet another embarassing debacle for the company, with the threat of a mass walk-out of their contributors during the event.

In another dramatic turn of events, Jean-Pierre Laffont, co founder of Sygma, and ousted by Corbis last week, has announced that he is joining rival Gamma to set up their proposed New York office. The move is replete with irony: Sygma was originally established by dissatisfied Gamma photographers.

Potentially the most serious development for Corbis, however, is the news that Sygma photographers in Paris and the US have demanded a complete listing of their archives, picture by picture. The move is a clear first step by the photographers to reclaiming their archives, dating back some thirty years, from Corbis-Sygma.

The photographers have threatened that if they do not receive the listing they will take legal action to prevent their images being moved from the current premises to the new Corbis-Sygma Paris offices scheduled to open at the end of this month. Whether Corbis-Sygma is willing, or even able, to comply with the demand remains to be seen.

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