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Copyright reform: freedom of panorama to remain national issue

David Stellini
08.07.2015 - 11:45
Happy young woman taking a selfie photo in Paris

Media reports about the freedom of panorama - a provision in copyright law that permits taking pictures, video footage or other images of buildings and sculptures or art works permanently located in a public place - abound.

Most of these reports suggest that the EU is about to legislate to ‘ban’ or ‘censor’ tourist photos of famous monuments, buildings and art work, and/or make their uploading on social media (e.g. Facebook or Instagram) illegal due to a new EU copyright law.

Copyright reform but no banning of tourist photos of famous monuments

There is no such EU law on the table and it is highly unlikely that there will ever be in the future either. What there is, is a mention to freedom of panorama in an opinion report, which is by no means a legislative text. It is a non-binding report which is also called, in EU jargon, an own-initiative report.

There is no such EU law on the table and it is highly unlikely that there will ever be in the future either

This own-initiative report is about the implementation of a 2001 Directive on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and other related rights. The European Commission intends to reform the copyright law and in autumn will put forward a legislative proposal to revise the 2001 Directive. This European Parliament report gives a clear picture of what the European Parliament thinks this forthcoming EU law on copyright should look like.

The debate and vote on the report are scheduled for the morning of Thursday 9 July 2015.

Rules on freedom of panorama to be decided at national level

On the freedom of panorama, the four big political groups in the European Parliament (EPP, S&D, ALDE and ECR) support the status quo. For them, Member States should be able to decide the rules on panorama at national level, as is currently the case.

So they have introduced a separate vote to remove the freedom of panorama amendment from the own-initiative report. They are being guided by the principle of subsidiarity. 

Moreover, the same groups have agreed to reach a compromise on the report as a whole. 

Protecting intellectual property and enhancing access for users to creative works

The EPP Group thinks that any reform of copyright law needs to provide for a high level of protection of intellectual property, to foster investment in creativity and innovation, and to safeguard employment and encourage job creation.

The EPP Group stands for the right balance between user access and fair remuneration for creators

The EPP Group stands for the right balance between user access and fair remuneration for creators, taking into consideration the interests of small and medium-sized enterprises as well.

End users will have better access to creative and cultural works while the creation of new content and cultural exchange is fostered Therese Comodini Cachia MEP

"The Report today reflects the balance that is required for end users to benefit from enhanced access to what is currently available as well as to new creative content. The balance of rights reflected in the compromises will continue to foster investment in the creative industry, safeguard employment and encourage job creation, while at the same time giving the industry an opportunity to embrace digital technologies. This means that end users will have better access to creative and cultural works while the creation of new content and cultural exchange is fostered," said Therese Comodini Cachia, the chief negotiator on behalf of the EPP Group.

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