The freedom to take photos in public places is under attack. Until now, in most countries in Europe you were safe to take and publish photographs that are taken from public ground: a law called “Freedom of Panorama”. When you’re on holiday, you can take a photo from the London Eye and share it with your friends on Facebook. If someone wanted to pay you for using this photo, that’s OK too. But an upcoming ruling in the EU Parliament may change this.
Julia Reda, a member of the European Parliament, has tried bringing the Freedom of Panorama law to all countries of the EU, as a few countries (like France and Italy) don’t yet have such a law. For example, the photo accompanying this post, of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, may not be used commercially as the lighting on the tower is copyright protected.
In the majority of countries such as the UK, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria and Croatia, you’re safe to take, publish and sell photos of public buildings when taken from public grounds.
However, the current draft turned Julia’s proposal upside down. Instead of bringing the Freedom of Panorama to the few countries that don’t implement the FoP law yet, it would take it away from all those who do. With this, street, travel and architecture photography would be dead as we know it. It is impossible to find out the architect of every public building in order to ask for permission before you can publish and possibly sell the photo.