European Copyright Law, restricting the Freedom of Panorama. Stopping your right to take pics in public

I only discovered this week but the EU vote on the 9th July to restrict your rights to take photos in public.

If passed it will mean that if, for example, you take a pic which includes some architecturally designed edifice, and then post it on facebook to show your friends where you are, then the architect of that building could sue you for copyright.

If you have a website for your gite, showing sites in the area, the architects of any buildings could sue you. Basically the freedom to take pictures in public places is under attack from the European Parliament.

In the UK journalist's union NUJ are backing a campaign to stop this ill thought out proposal by Brussells.

The NUJ website states:

The ability to publish and sell photographs taken in public places is under threat from a new proposal to harmonise law across the EU on 'Freedom of Panorama’. Currently some but not all EU member states allow commercial use of photography and other graphic works taken in public spaces which includes items such as buildings and sculptures in the image, without infringing the rights holders of the buildings' designs or sculptures and without requiring permission of those rights holders.

In the UK this is embodied in section 62 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 which applies to "sculptures, models for buildings and works of artistic craftsmanship, if permanently situated in a public place or in premises open to the public”, where making and publishing photos or film of such works does not infringe their copyright. This exception to copyright has worked well for many years, acknowledging that architects, sculptors and craftspeople have creators’ rights, but facilitating professional imagery of our urban landscape which is an essential part of our culture.

But with an amendment to a motion due at the EU parliament on Thursday 9 July, instead of harmonising EU law in line with the UK law above, the EU proposal would be 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". What exactly constitutes “commercial use” and “works” is not precisely defined, but could apply not only to buildings and sculptures but to anything visible with copyright or design rights, and to any sale of images of these works. That would affect commercial and advertising imagery and editorial and press imagery, shutting down professional independent and spontaneous image making in public.

The NUJ as a member of the British Photographic Council supports the campaign to extend Freedom of Panorama across the EU. A petition is gathering thousands of signatures, calling on members of the European parliament not to limit the Freedom of Panorama in any way but to bring the Freedom of Panorama to all members states of the EU.

Whilst the NUJ are obviously attacking this from a journalists point of view it obviously has repercussions for us all.

There is a petition you can sign

and you can write to your MEP asking them to vote against this.

I've contacted 5 of Scotland's 6 MEPS asking that they vote aganst it. So far the only response has been from the Conservatives who said they don't agree with the EU plans and will be voting against it.

Add your voice and contact your MEP here or in the UK or other EU countries.

George, thanks for this post. Yes, its again one of those totally funny ideas these 'wise thinkers' of the EC 'parliament' have had. To put this into context of conman sense: this is an attempt at legislation level that reverses the reality of life.
Would in the future a professional photographers at first need approval of the administration of public buildings, lets say the Eifel tour, then this work is virtually impossible. (I never take photos of the Eifel tour because the "creators" of the light-show at night own the copyright and they are suing everybody who would is selling commercially a photo of their oh so genius worxs) If you then imagine that every day 100 million photos are uploaded to Facebook, it becomes clear what it would mean restricting the panorama freedom for individuals.

The Freedom of panorama (FOP) is a provision in the copyright laws of various jurisdictions that permits taking photographs and video footage and creating other images (such as paintings) of buildings and sometimes sculptures and other art works which are permanently located in a public place, without infringing on any copyright that may otherwise subsist in such works, and to publishing such images. its something like this:

Shakespeare has been dead for centuries. Had there been copyright laws as written today, his work would have moved into the public domain by now. Since that is the case, anyone can perform Macbeth.

People using my work on posters, t-shirts, mugs, etc. diminishes my work because they are utilizing it for mass production in a manner that I do not want my work to be marketed. They are taking away my rights as an individual to decide on how my efforts are to be exhibited and in what context. That is self-serving behavior in pursuit of profit for only themselves.

This has been an interesting discussion. I wish you a good night.

I suspect there are some production companies that might perform Macbeth for their own profit. Could it be diminished as a consequence?

As much as some fans may commission an author to produce 'more of the same', so some fans may commission an artist to produce novel, surprising, and highly original art.

Each to their own.

When people pay to see a band perform, they have usually listened to the band's music so they feel that that the odds are good that they will enjoy the performance.

Commissioning a sequel is based on the quality and readership of the first book. The odds are good that the sequel will be purchased by those who have read the previous book.

My original pieces of art are not reproductions. I do not paint the same subject in the same way ad nauseum. Most visual artists try to push their boundaries and grow as artists. We are always excited to start the next piece of see if we can transfer what we want to express to canvas, paper, clay, etc. Although I earn my living selling my art, I would continue to create whether anyone saw it or not. I don't work as an artist. I AM an artist. However, people diminishing my work by using it for their own profit...altering it to change my vision...shows no respect for me as an individual and my desire to contribute my ideas through my art. When an artist creates a piece of art, they expose their deepest feelings. Others shouldn't devalue those feelings.

When people pay a band to perform, how can they consider purchasing tickets if they haven't already seen the performance?

When fans commission an author to write a sequel, how can they consider doing so without having read the sequel first?

Governments and laws are supposed to secure our rights, not to annul them. That means there should be laws that protect our moral rights, but not laws that annul our right to copy in order to create a reproduction monopoly.

So, yes, the law should prohibit fraud, deceit, misattribution, misrepresentation, forgery, etc.

Nothing I've written changes the world or copyright law. Your royalties remain unaffected. If people make illicit copies they do so because it's in their nature.

From some perspectives, yes, everything I've written is tosh.

If anyone is upset by the stress and cognitive dissonance caused by simultaneously upholding these two conflicting ideas, copyright and liberty, then it's probably best not to look in to either too deeply.

Unread everything I've written. least in the USA...are supported by taxes. Also, in response to your earlier remark about publishing my art, how would people see it to consider purchasing it if I didn't publish it? As far as morals when it comes to presenting another's work as their own, you have a lot more faith that everyone is a person of integrity than me. My experience is it isn't so. There are people who will always take advantage of others. At least with copyright, I have recourse to remedy the "immoral" appropriation and usage of my images. Otherwise, I am supposed to live without so that others can profit from my work? You may give up your copyright completely, or for limited usage to others. There are contracts involved. If the person breaks the contract, you are able to seek recompensation under copyright law. Without trademarks, businesses would be able to use each others names, logos, etc. That would create a real problem for consumers who would not know which business was the one that they were seeking. It could also lead to even more deceitful practices by corporations, etc. At any rate, I assume you are not an independent entrepreneur. If you are and sell a product or products, please post photographs here so that I may copy them and sell them.

It’s much easier to hide behind a black square.

It would be nice to put a face to the opinion though.

Ah but Jane, he’s a real person, he’s been to my house, we have paid him for his labours. But yes, I must stop. I had resolved to but the last PirateBay thing got to me. :-/ None so blind as those who will not see.

Sarah, the anonymous Crosbie is not worth responding to.

I am sorry Crosbie but this is tosh. A book is not a pot or a basket. It is different. If PirateBay steal your book and make it available free to all, then you can no longer sell your book. It has ceased to have its original value. No one will give you the owner/creator anything except out of charity.
Your facts are not to be relied upon: if authors only got 1% royalty that would indeed be even more unreasonable that it actually is.
Your logic is full of holes. Authors’ works can be quoted under fair use. They cannot be disseminated widely with no benefit to the creator.
Libraries purchase books from publishers /authors. Authors get royalties and PLR (public lending right)
I am tired of this debate. You get paid when you work. Why shouldn’t I? My work is different to yours. I offer it for sale, you think it should be available free as of right to anyone.

This is of course an ad hominem, but perhaps there's an enquiring mind lurking behind it desperate to get out?

The great thing about art and knowledge is that it's not taken nor consumed (despite what the publishing corporations say). Macbeth will last as long as people want it to, and, if anything, the more it is consumed enjoyed, the longer it's likely to remain preserved as part of our culture.

One should be greedy and thirsty for knowledge, for art and novelty, and this is why humanity progresses - because some people get off their couch and seek out and explore strange new worlds, perhaps even to go boldly where no man has gone before.

Try visiting a library one day. Consume Read as much as you can, and pay not one penny for it. Are libraries therefore a sign of a culturally enlightened society, or a decadent 'want it all for nothing' society?

If people want someone to produce something, and that someone has offered to produce it in exchange for an equitable amount, then such a deal can occur. That is a free market, not a failed one.

If one has respect for an artist's rights, then one has no respect for copyright, for as many artists sometimes discover to their horror (having made inequitable deals with publishers), they can be prevented by copyright from performing, adapting, or selling copies of their own work (let alone that of others). The artist's own liberty to their own work can be threatened by the privilege that arose in it.

So, having consumed read the literature concerning copyright and the nature of rights and privileges, so I hereby share with the public (publish) some of the knowledge I have obtained. If you want to print out thousands of copies of it to sell on street corners, you should neither pay me nor ask for my permission. Conversely, if people want me to write a book of what I've learnt, I will consider it depending upon the amount offered in exchange.

A society free to share and build upon its own culture, with a free market in art, or a society denied its liberty to do so, that in its vestigial thirst for culture accepts pulp entertainment, paying not artists, but intermediary corporations taking 99% of the revenue from sale of copies that cost nothing to make?

Why is the former society considered poorer, and the latter richer?

Mr Fitch is one of those people who is happy to take as much as possible as and when he can. He has no respect for the artist’s right to their work let alone the investment that they have made in producing it. If society follows his model it will undoubtedly become a much poorer place.

A potter does not rely upon charity. They only part with their vase if they consider that offered in exchange equitable - as those who offer the exchange only do so if the consider the vase equitable to that which they offer. Once the exchange has completed that's the end of the matter. The purchaser can exhibit the vase, draw pictures of it, use it to carry jewels or earth, whatever they are at liberty to do.

The same applies to a book. Don't sell it unless you are offered something equitable in exchange. And as the potter would agree, don't start work on it unless you are confident there is a market for it, or you have an up front commission for it - unless of course, it is for promotional purposes. By the time you are looking forward to the sale of a book that takes ten years to write, you have sold books that have taken less work to produce, and have built up a commissioning readership - a market.

Liberty only seems unreasonable if you have been brought up to believe that the privilege of copyright is an inherent right, instead of the abridgement of one, the people's cultural liberty.

A free market only seems implausible and equivalent to busking if you have been brought up to believe that artists can only be compensated via sale of copies of their work protected by the monopoly of copyright, instead of by selling their work like any other artisan.

Pirate Bay is cultural liberty. It does not preclude artists being paid by the multitudes who want them to produce more art. Art for money, money for art. No money? No art. No art? No money. It's a simple exchange.

Remember, these are just words. They do not change the world, though they may help understand copyright and people's apparent delinquency, why copyright is being augmented as fast as it's disintegrating - and why artists should therefore consider exploring direct sales of work to their audience, rather than pursuing the exploitation of copyright.

This proposal will affect all tourist businesses who use their own photos in their publicity material, brochures websites etc.
We made sure that we took all our own photos and didn’t pinch anyone else’s work.
I have been in touch with all the MEP’s from the South West Region and they will all be voting for Freedom of Panorama when this comes before the European Parliament later.

I have a question now re this. How do broadcasters stand when they broadcast a news item standing outside a place that is covered under this or even film makers making a documentary or new block buster

So writers must rely on the charity of others, waiting for a handout whilst others distribute or make available their work for free? It is because that is inherently unreasonable that we have copyright laws. I can and do get paid for photocopies of my journalism - thank goodness.
Pirate Bay & other sites put M’s book that took 10 years research and work up there for free. Why is that right? If you want to read it, why shouldn’t you have to pay for it or borrow it from an institution that has paid for it. Altruism is in short supply in this world. People are looking for something for nothing. If you make this legal then you make the transaction between reader and writer an act of charity. There is no longer an obligation to pay. “Who’s gonna throw the minstrel boy a dime?”

If one's writing is valued, one may invite those who value it, to pay for it. This is known as offering a product for sale in a market.

That copies can be produced for next to nothing is irrelevant.

It is absurd to think that because copies can be made for nothing, that therefore a writer will be unable to sell their writing.

A photocopier does not produce poetry. If you want a poem written pay a poet to write one - do not buy a photocopier.

Liberty does come from the innate power an individual has to do whatever they are able to do (by definition, liberty is any action that does not violate another's right). So yes, just because we can sing the songs we've heard, or tell the stories we've read, or make copies of the pictures we've admired, it is morally within our right to do so. What is immoral is making laws that abridge our liberty - however lucrative or useful to those consequently privileged.

Perhaps you believe we are born without liberty, that the only things we have the moral right to do are those things that the law explicitly permits us?

I'm not determining the future (though it doesn't look bright), I'm merely explaining copyright and the difference between selling one's work to those interested in commissioning it, vs the sale of an anachronistic monopoly.

It's up to you to decide how you should best make a living - given your view of the future.

But, I'd recommend no-one waste time worrying about copyright and its interminable legislative 'enhancement'. Just ignore it.