Today I have been forced onto my soap box to have a little preach. Please take a minute to read as it is highly important. It will affect everyone.
"Freedom of panorama" is a term given to the act of taking photos in a public place. Essentially, you are free to take photos of whatever you want, provided it is public space. You can then do what you want with that photo, without any implications. Today this is freedom is under attack.
The image below is a map of the world indicating their stance on the freedom of panorama:
"But you are a photographer, of course you care, why should I?". I hear you say. The problem with this law is that it will affect everybody. The law is designed to protect commercial photography of copyrighted subjects (landmarks, buildings, etc.). But, its reach is much farther than you might imagine.
Nowadays, the line between commercial and non-commercial photography is awfully blurry. Take for example, you upload an image of yourself straightening up the leaning tower of Pisa to facebook. In doing so you are agreeing to Facebook's terms and conditions. You know, that thing you tick agree and click next (without reading)?
Section 9.1 of Facebook's terms and service agreement gives them the right to use any image uploaded to their servers for commercial purposes. To ensure that Facebook is clear of any wrong doing in section 5.1 you confirm you have ensured that any image uploaded is clear of copyright violations. This puts you in the drivers seat of this journey up shit creek, with a turd for a paddle.
"But who cares?. I will just do it anyway!". Well, you will be committing a criminal offence by uploading that image online. So there is that. I can imagine that it would take a long time before it filters down to people taking selfies with Big Ben. But it will immediately impact photographers taking photos of iconic monuments in urban environments.
"Commercial photography" is not only the act of selling your photos for profit. If your image appears on a website that has any form of monetisation (at all) then you are in violation. For example: Do you have any ad's on your website? If so then the use of your images is seen as commercial. You will be held liable.
Today (July 9, 2015) the European parliament is going to vote on the proposed changes. What they are proposing to put in place makes it impossible for anyone to follow copyright laws. Instead of bringing freedom of panorama to the few countries that do not have it, this proposal will take it away from the many countries that do.
The image below shows Freedom of Panorama in European countries:
- Dark Green = OK, including public interiors
- Light Green = OK
- Yellow = OK for buildings only
- Red = Not OK
- Blue = Public interiors are OK, but schools, opera buildings, entrance halls of businesses, and museums are not public places for the purpose of Dutch law, while railway stations are.
If you have any thoughts on this at all you can sign the petition up at change.org and make your stand. This is highly important and will have real, long lasting effects on everyone. Especially as we all cary cameras around in our pocket now.
Here is an illustration indicating what the London skyline will look like after the freedom of Panorama restrictions are put into place:
So to finish up I would like to ask you your opinions on this topic? If you are a photographer how do you see this affecting you? If you aren't a photographer do you care about this?
Post your answers in the comments below.
Ben Kepka - Cultured Kiwi Photography