Extend photography freedom throughout EU, says Alyn

In a welcome move to Scotland’s photographers and filmmakers, Alyn Smith MEP has backed huge reform that would protect their right to feature famous landmarks in their work. 

Freedom of Panorama is the right to publish photographs, documentary films and other works depicting public places without restriction. In her report on the review of EU copyright laws, Julia Reda of the Pirate Party called for this right to be extended throughout the EU. Some EU countries, including France, Belgium, Greece and Italy, have no Freedom of Panorama and so images including famous landmarks must not be posted online. For instance, photographs of the Atomium in Brussels appear blacked out on Wikipedia because of the restrictions.

This was countered by the legal affairs committee when French MEP Jean-Marie Cavada tabled an amendment that stated “the commercial use of photographs, video footage and 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. 

Alyn said:

“I cannot comprehend a world where people would try to restrict images of iconic Scottish landmarks.

“Edinburgh Castle, the Wallace Monument, the Duke of Wellington and his cone – part of what makes these places iconic is that they belong to us, the public, and we’re free to go take pictures or films of ourselves with loved ones around them.

“It’s not only commercial photographers and artists who would be affected by the changes. If, say, you were to upload a holiday picture to Facebook, you wouldn’t profit commercially but you would still have agreed to the Facebook terms of service that state you give permission for 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 (Section 5.1).

“Ergo, you would have to find out if any of the statues/sculptures/buildings were still protected by copyright, conclude a licence agreement with the rightholder, and only then could you legally upload your holiday picture, otherwise you would be in danger of violating copyright law.

“Not on my watch. The amended report goes to plenary on July 9th, and it’s our last chance to change the wording. There’s huge cross-party support to defend Freedom of Panorama, and I’m confident that the forces of common sense can band together on the day.”