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EU Law Change Could Play Havoc With Photography Restrictions

A proposed EU law could remove the right to publish photos of public spaces without restrictions from photographers.

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The Gerkin


Currently, the freedom of panorama, if featured under a countries national copyright law, gives people the unrestricted right to publish photographs portraying works in public places. However, a proposed copyright reform will mean that the freedom of panorama will face restrictions throughout all of the states in the EU, if adopted. 


What The Amends Mean 

Restrictions are already in place in some EU states which prevent photos of public buildings and artworks permanently installed in public places being published without permission from the architect or 'righholder'. However, unless the members of the legal affairs committee reject the new proposal, the right to use photographs of works located in public places on a permanent basis without restriction would be removed from all EU states.  As a result, photographers will have to seek authorisation from the architect or ' righholder ' of the works before publishing their images.


Sharing Holiday Snaps Could Be Problematic 

Not only will this cause a headache for professional photographers and photojournalists who clearly take photos for a commercial purpose but it could potentially mean the general public who share their holiday snaps on sites such as Facebook could be dragged into a copyright debate. Discussing the proposed changes, Julia Reda, who is campaigning against the reform, wrote: "If you upload a holiday picture to Facebook, you don’t make any profit from that. You do, however, agree to the terms of service of Facebook, which state that you are giving permission to Facebook to use your picture commercially (Section 9.1 of Facebook’s Terms of Service), and that you have cleared all the necessary rights in order to do so (5.1 of Facebook’s Terms of Service)."

Julia goes on to explain that if the potential amends are put in place, you would have to find out if the building you've taken a photo of is still protected by copyright and if so, who owns the rights today. You then have to contact them and create a license agreement that gives Facebook permission to use the image for commercial purposes before you can publish it on the Social Network legally. 


"Everyone should be able to use public space freely – without having to negotiate a licence first," Julia Reda. 

Deleting Images 

The proposed changes will also mean that sites that rely on freely licensed works will also have to remove images. Wikipedia, for example, would have to remove the thousands of images it currently has online of public buildings and permanent artworks whose author has not been dead for 70 years. Julia also brings up the valid point that unless it is stated otherwise, postcards, books and calendars featuring public art which are perfectly legal today would have to be removed from shelves so the public can't access them until permission has been granted from the original architect. 


What Can Be Done? 

9 July is when the report will be voted on and this is the last chance when the Members of the European Parliament will be able to discuss the change. You can get in touch with your MEP and ask them to vote against the amendment and sign the online petition put in place to save the freedom of photography in the European Union. Juila is also asking for people to Tweet the following message: "Everyone should be able to use public space freely – without having to negotiate a licence first."

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llareggub 10 825 United Kingdom
3 Jul 2015 3:43PM
Maybe you should read your forums first, there is a really interesting and properly thought out piece courtesy of a poster who has had engagement with an MEP!

Essentially the vote and alterations are not legislative! Still a concern yes, however it should be tempered with an understanding of what is actually happening rather than fearmongering!

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