The Freedom of taking photos in public places is under attack. Until now, in most countries in Europe you were safe to take and publish photographs that are taken from public ground – This is called Freedom of Panorama. But not all, if you take a night time shot of the Eiffel Tower for example, according to French law, your rights to use them are limited. The illumination of the Eiffel Tower is considered to be a separate artistic installation. Because France does not have full freedom of panorama; copyright restrictions make it illegal to publish these pictures without proper authorisation.
The Guardian reports “Freedom of panorama is the unrestricted right to use photographs of public spaces , without infringing the rights of the architect or the visual artist. Wikipedia only uses freely licensed images. Therefore, this valuable exception to copyright is necessary in order to allow Wikipedia to freely depict public spaces on relevant articles. Most European Union countries enjoy full freedom of panorama. However, in some European countries, such as Belgium and France, this freedom is restricted.
The impressive Atomium in Brussels, for instance, is a beautiful structure, but pictures of it are restricted from being freely used. As a result, the Wikipedia article about the Atomium does not feature any photos of the original structure. You have to make do with an image of a model replica in Austria”.
via The Guardian
The European parliament is currently engaged in the adoption of some copyright reforms. If adopted, freedom of panorama would be restricted throughout all EU states. According to the proposed amendment, the right to freely use images of works permanently located in public spaces would always be subject to prior authorisation. Unless the legal affairs committee rejects the proposal, hundreds of thousands of images on Wikipedia would be subject to copyright restrictions and would face the risk of being removed.
This “reform” would have terrible consequences for the way we share and create culture and knowledge. The UK creative industry, recognised as one of the most vibrant in the world, would be encumbered with interminable bureaucracy. Photojournalists would need to seek permission after permission instead of doing what they do best: taking fine photographs.
This is the last chance to stop this devastating proposal from becoming European law. On 9 July a vote will take place in Strasbourg. Please write to your MEP and call them to vote against amendment 421 of the Implementation of Directive 2001/29/EC. Sign the petition to save the freedom of photography. Share this article on social media and ask your friends to do the same. Now is our time to fight for full freedom of panorama in Europe.