Photographic Freedom Under Siege In Europe? | How To Help & Why You Should
For the majority of the western world, it’s summer break for students, which means sun, fun, and STDs for many. Parents have to find things to do with their kids, and older kids often get their first taste of traveling alone. Well, where do they all go? If you have Facebook or Snapchat or Instagram, it’s easy to tell because they won’t shut up about it.
If it’s the beaches and bikinis they seek, it’s likely Florida or Mexico. The more interesting ones will do Croatia and Amalfi, but for many, summer is the chance to spend touring the rest of Europe for a bit of tangible history and photographic splendor. The only problem they may find this year is that they may not be able to bring those memories back in the form of photographs.
Just days ago on June 16th, the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament adopted an amendment to a report on copyright reform. It reads as follows:
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 authorization from the authors or any proxy acting for them.
This has direct implications for the ‘freedom of panorama’ laws across the continent as proposes that there be a standard for images of works that are permanently located in public places. For those of us who weren’t educated at Eton, what this basically means is that instead of allowing the public to take and publish or sell their own images of buildings and monuments found in public skylines, it may be required to get full permission, perhaps clearances, or even pay royalties to any proxy acting for the subjects.
Here’s a map showing what countries in Europe stand where on the subject:
The tradition as it stands today in most places is that the skyline and anything in the public scene belongs to everyone. It’s that way in England and many other European countries. Some others make it okay only for non-commercial use, and others like Italy, just flat out say it’s not okay. I find that hilarious, but also it’s Italy, where you can make laws to your heart’s content, as long as they’re not enforced. Which they aren’t. If this law goes through, the landscape of legality would be much less green.
Wikipedia’s Signpost has even gone so far as to make a few mocking images to mimic the type we may see if this passes:
It does seem as though when one legal hurdle of photography is leapt, another one arises. It’s like running in a race where the finish line keeps moving, but there is something you can do. You can help to preserve the freedom of panorama by spreading the word, contacting European members of parliament and sharing your disgust. According to The Signpost, the full vote goes through on July 9th, so the time to act is now to persuade the MEPs to go against this adoption.
So you don’t travel to Europe? It’s still in your best interest to act for your sake, future generations, and hey, what happens in one federal superstate could very well happen in your own.