ORG Response to EU Consultation on Freedom of Panorama and Publishers’ Neighbouring Right

ORG responded to the consultation using the online facilities provided by Copyright 4 Creativity. Below we reproduce our responses.




1. When uploading your images of works, such as works of architecture or sculpture, made to be located permanently in public places on the Internet, have you faced problems related to the fact that such works were protected by copyright?

Yes, Often

The UK has a panorama exception for both commercial and non-commercial uses, and online photographs of British buildings or public art published in the UK are not an issue . However, millions of British citizens travel across the EU every year, with some 1.2 million UK-born people living in other EU countries. Every modern mobile phone is also a camera and most people share their pictures online with friends and family, if not in wider fora, such as Instagram. Millions of potentially infringing photographs are uploaded every year in the UK.

There have not been any prosecutions or civil claims against UK citizens for online infringement of copyright on public art or buildings abroad, to the best of our knowledge. Unacceptable legal uncertainty remains however, as not even legal experts are completely clear on the risks and implications.

This is a complex area, and it can be hard to explain to ordinary citizens how an act that is not an infringement in the country where it is performed can generate damages in another country. Central here is establishing a) where the infringement has taken place, b) where the damages have occurred, c) whether the court has jurisdiction, d) and the applicable legislation, which, counterintuitively, may not be the law of the country. 1. British residents could be sued abroad for panorama infringements in other EU countries UK residents will likely believe uploading their holiday pics online, British copyright rules apply. It appears that even interested parties such as the visual artists’ rights management organisation DACSmay not have fully considered the implications of the panorama restrictions elsewhere in the EU. DACS position is that “as DACS operates under UK copyright law we already recognise the disputed exception, and currently do not support a reopening  of  the Information Society Directive, where the exception originates from”. Unfortunately this may not be the case. The Court of Justice of the EU ruled in January 2015 that accessibility in a Member State of an allegedly copyright-infringing image on a website is enough to confer jurisdiction on the courts of that Member State to hear an infringement action (Pez Hejduk v EnergieAgentur.NRW GmbH [Case C 441/13]). British residents could be sued in a French or Italian court if they upload their photos of French or Italian buildings or public art – even including graffiti – to a website that can be accessed from those countries, as it is deemed that even if the “infringement” takes place in the UK while uploading the pictures, the “damage” occurs where the image is accessed. This gives the court jurisdiction. The CJEU followed article 7(2) of the Brussels I Recast Regulation (REGULATION (EU) No 1215/2012). One limitation here is that the court can only rule on damages that have taken place in the country and not more widely. This ruling may be qualified by general requirements in copyright that there should be some targeting of the website to a particular country for the online infringement to be heard there, but this has not yet been tested in court. This is a critical aspect that needs more clarification. 2. British residents could be sued in the UK for infringement elsewhere in the EU To make matters more difficult, in addition to the risk of being sued in other EU countries without freedom of panorama, British residents might even be sued in a UK court for infringements in a country without a panorama exception. Article 8 of Rome II Regulation (REGULATION (EC) No 864/2007) provides that “the law applicable to a non-contractual obligation arising from an infringement of an intellectual property right shall be the law of the country for which protection is claimed”. For example, if a rightsholder wishes to pursue a claim for damages taking place in France, a country without freedom of panorama, French law will apply irrespectively of the location of the court where the claimant pursues the infringement. If I am domiciled in the UK, a French rightsholder can sue me here for panorama infringements. This would not only potentially cover damages in France but in any other EU country without a panorama exception where the website is accessible (with the caveat of the targeting argument we discuss above). The copyright law of each country would apply to each claim for damages. 3. British residents could be sued for panorama pictures in the UK Not even UK buildings and sculptures are completely out of risk. In 2012 Wikipedia was sued for copyright infringement in public sculptures by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen under US copyright jurisdiction, forcing the removal of fifty-nine images from the popular website Lobert, J. et al., 2015. The EU Public Interest Clinic and Wikimedia present: extending freedom of panorama. One of the sculptures no longer available on Wikipedia is the Bottle of Notes, a tribute to Captain James Cook located in Middlesbrough, UK. Although this case involved US law, similar claims could have been brought within the EU under the accessibility principle. Dozens of images of the sculpture are available online, pointing at the potential arbitrariness and uncertainty. One added problem that generates uncertainty is the complex diversity of rules across the EU. France, Belgium, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg have no panorama exception at all so many public photographs may be infringing. Some Nordic countries – Denmark and Finland – allow images of buildings but not of public sculptures. This makes it very difficult for any ordinary UK Internet user to understand the implications of uploading their holiday photographs online. This situation is particularly harmful in relation to images released under open licences that stimulate reuse. Once images are copied and reincorporated in other online materials involving many countries it becomes increasingly difficult to establish the applicable jurisdictions, risks and potential liabilities. If the rights holders wished to fully enforce their copyright, public photography would grind to a halt. Harmonisation in the form of a mandatory exception in all countries is necessary for the DSM and for freedom of expression. These regulations around jurisdiction are completely out of the scope of the current consultation and provide further argument of the need to reform, harmonise and simplify copyright law itself, not its application. The above arguments show the need for harmonisation through a mandatory exception.

2. When providing online access to images of works, such as works of architecture or sculpture, made to be located permanently in public places, have you faced problems related to the fact that such works were protected by copyright?

Yes. Often. The same issues that affect those uploading images extend and are amplified to those making them available. In many cases bloggers will be the authors of the images, but even those providing a platform for others to make the images available online could be subjected to complaints that they are aiding infringement. In the context of the debates around reducing intermediary liability and bringing a duty of care, this is a source of concern for many online publishers.

3. Have you been using images of works, such as works of architecture or sculpture, made to be located permanently in public places, in the context of your business/activity, such as publications, audiovisual works or advertising?

Yes, on the basis of an exception Our campaigning materials regularly include images of public buildings, including from places where the panorama exception is absent such as Brussels. We mainly source images online under an open licence, such as Creative Commons. We assume that the UK exception is engaged. A licensing model for public art or buildings is simply unworkable. For example, the Atomium in Belgium has a webpage with licensing conditions, including a notice that use of photographs is permitted for personal non-commercial use ( But it is not realistic to expect every visitor to find this page and read it, let alone interpret it correctly.

4. Do you license/offer licences for the use of works, such as works of architecture or sculpture, made to be located permanently in public places?

If so, please provide information about your licensing agreements (Member State, licensees, type of uses covered, revenues generated, etc.). N/A

5. What would be the impact on you/your activity of introducing an exception at the EU level covering non-commercial uses of works, such as works of architecture or sculpture, made to be located permanently in public places?

No Impact.

At first sight, restricting use of copyrighted materials to non-commercial purposes appears an attractive proposition that might be able to balance the public interest with the economic interests of rightsholders. Unfortunately, this is not that simple, as evidenced in the experience with non-commercial open licences. In 2009, Creative Commons commissioned a study from a professional market research firm to explore understandings of the terms “commercial use” and “noncommercial use” among Internet users when used in the context of content found online. Their findings show the confusion on this matter: “The empirical findings suggest that creators and users approach the question of noncommercial use similarly and that overall, online U.S. creators and users are more alike than different in their understanding of noncommercial use. Both creators and users generally consider uses that earn users money or involve online advertising to be commercial, while uses by organizations, by individuals, or for charitable purposes are less commercial but not decidedly noncommercial. Similarly, uses by for-profit companies are typically considered more commercial. Perceptions of the many use cases studied suggest that with the exception of uses that earn users money or involve advertising – at least until specific case scenarios are presented that disrupt those generalized views of commerciality – there is more uncertainty than clarity around whether specific uses of online content are commercial or noncommercial.”( The current Copyright Directive includes non-commercial exceptions for disability, educational and scientific purposes (and certain broadcasts). Recital 42 clarifies in relation to education and scientific research that “the non-commercial nature of the activity in question should be determined by that activity as such. The organisational structure and the means of funding of the establishment concerned are not the decisive factors in this respect”. However in other contexts, the commercial aspect is linked to the type of use. A non-profit radio station in Germany was in first instance forced to pay for the use of a photograph licensed under Creative Commons non-commercial terms, with the court ruling that non-commercial should be understood as purely private personal use, even though the radio station did not generate any income through their website (–2151308.html). However, the Cologne Court of Appeal overturned the ruling in 2015 on the grounds that the licences were intended for global Internet use, and the narrower prism of German law should not be used to re-interpret the licence terms, which relate to the generation of income and not the type of user. The non-commercial approach may work when applied to certain institutions, but it can be very hard to establish for individuals. One immediate issue is how to classify personal blogs and online publications funded through advertising or micro payments – e.g. Flattr. There is little jurisprudence on the matter and legal opinions vary considerably (see and An additional problem comes from the prevalence of social networks and online platforms. Most of these are clearly commercial enterprises. When users of these platforms upload any materials in many cases they are giving the platform a licence to use the materials for commercial purposes, including advertising. How should a posted photograph be classed? From the point of view of the individual it is a non-commercial sharing with friends and family or maybe followers. From the perspective of Facebook or Instagram the photograph is a commercial asset. In summary, a non-commercial mandatory exception, while giving some apparent assurances to rightsholders against detrimental effects, will not help solve the current uncertainty and help build a digital single market.

6. What would be the impact on you/your activity introducing an exception at the EU level covering both commercial and non-commercial uses of works, such as works of architecture or sculpture, made to be located permanently in public places?

Strong positive impact. A non restrictive mandatory exception would provide the required certainty across the EU. In any case, every exception under EU law must pass the so-called Three Step Test in Article 5(5) of the Copyright Directive: “The exceptions and limitations provided for in para- graphs 1, 2, 3 and 4 shall only be applied in certain special cases which do not conflict with a normal exploitation of the work or other subject-matter and do not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the rightholder”. It is clear that even a broad exception for all types of uses is already quite restricted under the general rules. Adding a non-commercial aspects would not necessarily increase the protection for rightsholders.

7. Is there any other issue that should be considered as regards the ‘panorama exception’ and the copyright framework applicable to the use of works, such as works of architecture or sculpture.

There is a basic public interest case for mandating a copyright exception for public art and buildings. This has been acknowledged outside the EU as well, with countries such as Canada and Australia having exceptions in this regard. In the US, two-dimensional representations of buildings are outside the scope of copyright. Even in countries without a panorama exception this principle of balancing the public interest is acknowledged. In France, the Court of Cassation ruled in 2005 [Buren et Drevet v Lyon] that postcards of a square the incidentally contained images of a sculpture did not require attribution – naming them in the postcard – to the sculptors. This is an important issue as demonstrated by the 555 thousand people who signed an online petition against restricting the exception. The Open Rights Group ran a campaign to Protect the Freedom of Panorama in the Summer 2015, where 11,567 people contacted their MEP.


13. Would the creation of new neighbouring right covering publishers in all sectors have an impact on consumers/en d-users/EU citizens?

While we sympathise with the difficulties faced by news organisations, particularly in their reduced ability to sustain quality investigative journalism, we believe that creating a new neighbouring right would be negative and very likely would not solve the problems faced by media organisations.

1. The right would reduce the availability of content and impact rights and innovation

The proposed new neighbouring right for publishers is similar to the rights implemented in Spain and Germany. There is now evidence that these experiences have had a very negative impact on the availability of content to consumers.

Services already affected in Germany and Spain include Radio Utopia (news agency),, Links.Historische (news for historians), Rivva (blog aggregator), (news search engine),,,, Planeta Ludico, NiagaRank, InfoAliment, Multifriki, Meneame, Astrofísica y Física, Beegeeinfo. [EDiMA, The impact of ancillary rights in news products.]. Google has stopped its news aggregator service in Spain altogether.

The experience from Spain Spain’s ancillary copyright law came into effect on January 1, 2015 in Article 32.2 of the Spanish Intellectual Property Act. The clause does not explicitly covers news portals, it forces any ’electronic content aggregation providers’ that are ‘regularly updated’ to pay a copyright fee to publishers of the materials they collate. This can include a normal blog. Publishers cannot opt out of being paid this fee that is paid through a collecting society. This is in response to the German situation, where opt outs have derailed the system, as we discuss below. There is an exception for providing minimum results for general search results responding to “isolated words”, but not “for commercial purposes” .

The critical departure from normal copyright here is that aggregators have to pay to use ‘non-significant fragments’ of content, which normally are allowed under copyright. The effects of the new right have been studied in detail by researchers at NERA [Posada de la Concha, P., Gutierrez Garcia, A. & Hernandez Cobos, H., 2015. ‎Impacto del Nuevo Artículo 32.2 de la Ley de Propiedad Intelectual]. Researchers found that the new legislation is detrimental to consumers because it reduces content variety and impedes the ability of innovative new services to enter the market.

“Based on comScore data for the first 3 months of 2015 the study finds that the closing of Google News (and a number of smaller news aggregation services) that followed the introduction of the new law has led to a (predictable) decline of Internet traffic directed at Spanish newspapers: Traffic to newspaper sites has dropped more than 6% on average and 14% for small publications.”(NERA)

Smaller online publications without brand recognition are particularly affected as these rely on aggregators more than large media operations. This skews competition in news publishing towards well known companies, particularly those with established print presence. The study found that news aggregators generally have a positive effect by expanding the market, which outweighs any cannibalisation of their sources.

Implications for freedom of information

The new restrictions mean that Spanish citizens have less access to information, to new products and services from aggregators, and to content from media outlets. These reductions in available media negatively impact the human right to impart and receive information, enshrined in Art.10 of the European Convention on Human Rights [ECHR] and Art.11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU of 20007 [EU Charter].

The restrictions could also affect the Right to Culture under Article 21, as many cultural institutions such as libraries, archives and museums and publishers of online catalogues and portals such as Europeana, could unintentionally be caught up in such measures.

Social media platforms would logically be the next target of any new neighbouring publishers’ right. According to Pew Research, Facebook is now the main source for political news among US Millennials, almost doubling Google News (61% to 33%) []. It is likely a similar situation can be found in the EU.

In the Spanish case media groups could not renounce their fees, but in Germany, as we discuss below, this was the case. It is very possible that a new neighbouring right could end up becoming a fee paid by media groups in order to be included in the aggregators. Larger organisations would afford to pay, while small independent media would be excluded from Google or Facebook.

The new neighbouring right creates uncertainty about the right to quote and provide hyperlinks. The ability to provide some context and additional information about the target of a hyperlink – the technical location or address of the target – is a fundamental part of freedom of expression in the 21st Century and critical for the modern world wide web to exist. Innovation and the web The impact of the proposed new restrictions on basic linking and search engines are clear and concerning enough, but there are other worrying aspects that are less frequently discussed. Innovative services are also particularly affected. This impacts customised services based on social media usage, specialist communities and projects using machine learning and algorithmic tailoring of news feeds. This clearly has a negative impact on the Digital Single Market and the EU economy.

Much Internet traffic nowadays takes place without human intervention – machine to machine – as information is recycled and repurposed in myriad ways. The web has grown in complexity to a point that a purely human based approach to managing it as an information system is not viable. The modern Internet and all the social and economic constructs that depend on it rely not just on Google, search engines and traditional content aggregators but increasingly on other less known services and systems that are constantly processing and classifying information. The new restrictions being proposed by the Commission could have huge implications, as the modern web depends not just on the ability to provide basic links, but on the automated organisation of knowledge through the use of additional information describing the links, of the kind potentially being restricted here: summaries, snippets, keywords, etc. One example is the [Open Calais][] system run by Thomson Reuters, which uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) and machine learning algorithms to analyse content – much of it news – in order to tag people, places, companies, facts, and events. Thomson Reuters sells this service to both content providers and aggregators. Similar knowledge management tools are in operation in many areas and many such semantic systems are interlinked in the [Linked Open Data cloud][]. Introducing a permission system and royalties into the processing of online content could have unforeseen consequences as it would affect not just Google but many other re-users of information. Economic impact on consumers In addition to the above detrimental effects, NERA looked at how the loss of aggregators meant that end users had to spend more time looking for news, and this has an economic cost in loss of opportunity. Their model is based on users spending 55 minutes a day reading online news with is a reduction of 6.1% on visits since the act came into force, so we assume that the extra time is spent looking for news instead of reading them, on an average wage of €7.50/hour. Although these figures may seem insignificant, when the number of hours spent are aggregated at the country level, the loss in the so-called “customer surplus” amounts to a staggering €1.85 billion per year in Spain. A proper calculation at the EU level would require adjustments for national Internet use, media consumption and wages, but even on a very rough projection based on a EU population of 508 million, following the NERA model the new restriction could involve up to €20 billion. This is admittedly a very large amount, but even if we don’t fully accept NERA’s model and calculations, it is clear that the introduction of the proposed new restrictions would have some important economic costs to citizens.

Impact on open content and open-access

Spanish legal scholar Raquel Xalabander [Xalabarder, R., 2014. The Remunerated Statutory Limitation for News Aggregation and Search Engines Proposed by the Spanish Government – Its Compliance with International and EU Law. SSRN Electronic Journal.] has carried out extensive analysis of the legislation and its impacts. She has found potentially negative effects on open content, such as Creative Commons (CC) licences, which authorises its reproduction, distribution and making available online for free.

The main issue in Spain is the impossibility to waive the fees, which will also be due when aggregation is done of CC licensed contents. This could make licences ineffective. Even if the EU allowed for fees to be waived, the complexity and uncertainty involved could make it problematic enough. CC content creators already face issues in Spain and other countries trying to waive their rights via collecting societies.

Xalabander also found that a the new publisher right may hamper the open-access efforts of the academic and scientific communities, such as by the European Union in its Recommendation C(2012) 4890, and in its recent research programs (FP7 and the current Horizon 2020).

The proposed neighbouring right is simply an attempt to cross-subsidise the publishing industry at the expense of technology companies and citizens. Rectifying economic imbalances can sometimes be justified, but despite the rhetoric from media groups, there is simply no evidence to support their claims of an economic loss from news aggregators.

This Spanish competition regulator Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia (CNMC) found in an [official report][] that there was no direct competition between news producers and aggregators that justified any compensation .

2. There is no evidence of the need for a new neighbouring right

In addition there is no evidence that the new right has improved the situation for publishers.

The experience from Germany

Germany introduced a compensation regime for news publishers in August 2013, quite openly targeted at Google. This was quickly predicted as unworkable by legal scholars, who argued that the Internet company could simply choose not to index news that didn’t agree to waive the fees [Kersting, C. & Dworschak, S., 2013. Ancillary Copyright for News Publishers: Would Google Really Have to Pay?–A Competition Law Analysis. NZKart – Neue Zeitschrift für Kartellrecht (New Journal of Competition Law), (46 ).].

The predictions proved correct, and newspapers scrambled to get Google on side by renouncing their fees. The copyright collecting society VG Media took Google to the German competition regulator, the Bundeskartellamt, arguing that that Google was abusing its dominant position in the search and news aggregation markets by not displaying news snippets unless the fees were waived. The regulator sided with Google, who argued that they risked being sued otherwise. According to the Bundeskartellamt, even a dominant company cannot be compelled under competition law to take on a considerable risk of damages where the legal situation is unclear. Google has also been subjected to a formal complaint on abuse of dominant position to the European Commission by News Corp, on more complex arguments around discrimination of search results based on subscription paywalls.

VG Media also complained to the Copyright Arbitration Board of the German Patent and Trademark Office (GPTO), arguing that its members were entitled to 11% of the revenue of search engine operators that provide Internet users with a way to find their content. The GPTO rejected the calculations of the collecting society.

To this day German ancillary copyright has not generated any substantial income for German publishers. This has led Spanish publishers and their political allies to make it impossible to waiver their fees. We are concerned that a similar approach could be taken at the EU level, instead of heeding the more obvious lesson that the whole enterprise should be abandoned.

3. The proposal would make bad legislation

The proposed neighbouring right is also a negative development form the post of view of the quality of the law and the regulation of copyright.

Incompatible with international copyright law

Introducing a new neighbouring right would interfere with the right to make quotations of a work, enshrined as a mandatory exception in Article 10(1) of the Berne Convention:

“It shall be permissible to make quotations from a work which has already been lawfully available to the public, provided that their making is compatible with fair practice, and their extent does not exceed that justified by the purpose, including quotations from newspaper articles and periodicals in the form of press summaries.”

According to Raquel Xalabander, the Spanish ancillary levy would be in breach of Berne, and we believe that so would be any EU neighbouring right. Although the right to quotation has not been implemented as mandatory in Art.5(3)(d) of the EU Copyright Directive (Infosoc), Spain and the EU still have to enforce the scope of uses exempted under Berne. Article 10(1) of Berne is also carried on to the WIPO Treaty and covers any acts of exploitation without compensation, including communication to the public and translations, without determining a maximum size for a quotation, which needs to be established in context on a case by case basis:

“The copying of the headline or of a fragment is justified to the extent that it helps the user identify the contents linked and, assuming that linking is deemed an act of making available online, to directly access the original site. Identification and direct access to the linked contents justify the extent of the use done by aggregators and search engines under the quotation limitation.”(Xalabander)

By interfering with the right to quotation and reducing content availability the proposals would fail to balance the copyright interests with the fundamental right to information, as we discussed above. In addition to being a basic detriment on human right, this would also be in breach of Art.7 of TRIPs which obliges States to enforce IP law in a manner “conducive to social and economic welfare and to a balance of rights and obligations”.

This would also imply a disregard for the principle of proportionality applied by the CJEU to balance copyright with other fundamental rights and public interests.

Neighbouring rights are the wrong approach

The laws introduced in Spain and Germany were quite limited in relation to what is potentially being proposed by the European Commission. Neighbouring (or related) rights at EU level are currently confined to four categories: performing artists, record producers, film producers and broadcasters. A neighbouring right for publishers could put them on a par with these groups, potentially covering not just snippets but also other copyright uses. A new neighbouring right for publishers means adding an extra layer of rights clearances to any project. This is already a major cost in many cultural industries. As we saw above, many innovative online developments that the EU is trying to promote, such as text and data mining, could be negatively affected.

Some of Europe’s foremost copyright scholars, such as [Bernt Hugenholtz have argued against the introduction of the proposed new neighbouring right][]. Hugenholtz argues that performers deserve a related right because they are excluded from authorship but nevertheless perform a creative act. Other neighbouring rights cover industrial and businesses enterprises with the aim to incentivise production, not creativity. There is no clear evidence that those incentives are needed given the drop in production costs for all forms of media, and the same would apply to digital publishing.

Hugenholtz makes the important point that the existing neighbouring rights do not explicitly ban aggregation and may be inadequate to provide compensation in this context and would only add unnecessary complexity to rights management.

Negative impacts on copyright regulation

In addition to having a detrimental effect on the right to quotation, the proposals could have other negative consequences for EU copyright. The proposal is centred on enabling publishers’ “ability to licence and be paid for online uses of their content”. Online uses of content generally involve either copying (reproduction) or “making available to the public”, for example with streaming or file-sharing.

If the problem is that publishers believe that their content is being copied unfairly through excessive quotation, this is a simple matter of reducing the snippets or agreeing payment for reproduction, which does not require a new right. If the issue is the ability to licence and be paid for the “making available to the public”, then this is a different matter but still complicated, as the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) has found that linking to content does not constitute a communication to a new public (Svensson case). Introducing a restriction on linking, by negating the possibility to contextualise the link itself, would appear to be in conflict with this ruling.

It is unclear how the control of snippets and aggregators would fit in existing copyright law.

It appears that publishers would like to create a completely new protected act based on the processing, arrangement and display of information that in itself would not be covered by copyright. As such it sounds a bit similar to the EU Database Directive, which is now widely discredited but very difficult to remove from the statute.

14. Would the creation of new neighbouring right limited to press publishers have an impact on consumers/end-users /EU citizens?

We believe thew impact would be similar to the broader proposal above.