Protect Freedom of Panorama

Protect the Freedom of Panorama

On 9th July we could move one step closer to losing the right to take and share photos of public buildings. Take action today and protect outdoor photography.

What is Freedom of Panorama?

It’s an exception to the normal rules of copyright. Usually the copyright owner has exclusive rights to control the creation of works that were inspired by it, but when the original is in a public place, (like a sculpture or a building) we’re all allowed to paint or photograph these pieces of 3D art without permission. We have Freedom of Panorama in the UK but other countries in Europe don't have it.

What's the situation?

MEPs are about to vote on a report on copyright reform. It's a positive attempt to create better copyright laws across the EU. It proposes sharing the UK's Freedom of Panorama with EU states. However, some MEPs want to remove the Freedom of Panorama completely. Their proposal says that items in public - like buldings or statues - should always need authorisation from their authors for any commerical use. These days commerical use can be very unclear, and even include being shared on a commercial entity - like Facebook or Flickr.

What could this mean?

At the moment in France you can’t commercially publish (remember that includes Facebook and Flickr) a photo you've taken of the Eiffel Tower lit up at night, because the light show is copyrighted. In Belgium, the MEPs voting on this could be in breach for taking selfies at the EU Parliament building! The vote on the amendments is happening on the 9th, so we've only got a few days to encourage our MEPs to vote.

Take action here to ask your MEP to vote to support Freedom of Panorama. Groups like Wikimedia - the group behind Wikipedia - and the National Union of Journalists are also asking MEPs to back the Freedom of Panorama.

What to say to your MEP

We encourage you to write your own letter to your MEP, but here are some key points for you to consider including:

  • Please vote to delete the Cavada amendment 421 to paragraph 16 of Julia Reda's copyright report on July 9th which says: "16. Considers that the commercial use of photographs, video footage or other images of works which are permanently located in physical public places should always be subject to prior authorisation from the authors or any proxy acting for them"
  • Please vote to keep Freedom of Panorama and defend the full right to make use of photos taken in public places — maintaining the existing law in the UK.
  • People should not have to know the details of sculptor or architect and whether or not it has been 70 years since their death, just to take a photo of outdoor art.
  • Freedom of Panorama is a practical, useful right that allows:
    • artists to paint beautiful buildings
    • photographers to capture city skylines
    • tourists to share their holiday photos
    • Wikipedia to illustrate articles about architecture with images of said architecture

Credit for the image above: Tower Bridge at Dawn CC BY-SA 4.0. Edited version. CC BY-SA 4.0