This Proposed Law could Change the way You Travel - Forever
Are legal provisions the first thing that pop in your mind when you think about your travels?
No? Me neither.
But law regulates pretty much everything in our lives, and that includes our travels - from passport and border regulation, to the rules we have to follow when on boarding an aircraft, to the buildings we take pictures of when abroad. What - didn't you know about that last one? Let me explain.
Most countries in the world have what is called a Freedom of Panorama provision in their copyright laws, which allows you and I to take photos and videos of our favourite places and post them on our Facebook feeds, Instagram, or on blogs such as this one. Without this Freedom, photos such as these:
...would be illegal.
Freedom of Panorama limits the rights of the creator of a public building, sculpture or monument, to sue for breach of copyright, and therefore allows us to enjoy them and take as many snaps and selfies with them as we like. Most countries allow this freely, and in the European Union, a Directive invites all Member States to have such a clause within their national laws. But now, all this could change.
A while ago, German MEP Julia Reda published a report on European copyright laws, pushing for a Union-wide Freedom of Panorama. Her report was countered by MEP Jean-Marie Cavada, who in turn proposed that all commercial use of photographs or videos of permanently installed art and public buildings would first need permission from the copyright holder. This is dangerous because we live on the interwebz, where the distinction between what is "commercial" and what is not is not very easy to define.
- This proposal is ridiculous because getting permission for every single photo of, say, the Colosseum in Rome or the Atomium in Brussels is next to impossible;
- This proposal is dangerous because it will mean that travelers like you and I will have to go through all of our photos and make sure that no public building or monument is in the background before uploading to any social sphere;
- This proposal is dangerous because sites like Wikipedia will have to take down thousands of images, used daily by the whole wide world;
- This proposal is dangerous because it would heavily limit both professional and amateur photography.
Can we do something about this? Yes we can. The European Parliament votes on this issue on July 9th - next week. That's ample time to contact your MEP and state your concerns. Meanwhile, you can sign the online petition to make your voice heard, and share this post with your friends to let them know of the risk - together, we can save the Freedom of Panorama, and all of us will be able to take shots like these...
...without breaking the law. Let's do this Europe!