The European parliament will vote today on an amendment to the EU’s copyright rules, which if passed would restrict Freedom of Panorama throughout the EU. This could result in thousands of building images being deleted from Wikipedia, and put restrictions on which photos people can upload and share online.
Freedom of Panorama is an exception to copyright rules, allowing photographs of public spaces and buildings to be used without restriction, while protecting the rights of the architect or artist. Currently some countries in the EU have full Freedom of Panorama, while other countries have it in place only for buildings or only for non-commercial uses -- or not in place at all.
Amendment 421 proposes that Freedom of Panorama be restricted for commercial use, requiring that all photos or video footage of works in public spaces must obtain authorization to be used commercially. While this may not seem like a significant problem, the line between commercial and non-commercial use is often blurry. For example, although posting a Facebook photo is not a commercial act, users have to agree to Facebook’s terms and conditions, which allows Facebook to use photos for commercial use and states that the necessary rights have already been cleared.
Additionally, restrictions to Freedom of Panorama cause problems for sites that rely on freely-licensed work, such as Wikipedia. The Wikimedia foundation does not accept photos with any contradictions to the Open-Knowledge Definition, meaning thousands of photos would have to be deleted or censored from Wikipedia, as well as removed from social media and personal blogs.
Read more about the amendment and what you can do to speak up about it here.