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Freedom of Panorama Under Threat By Meddlesome MEPs

Posted in Business and Law, and World Affairs

Most countries enjoy this exception the copyright laws, where tourists can take photos of landmarks and share them on social media. Today, (09/07/15) MEPs will vote as to whether it should be removed in a bid to have the same laws across all member states. Belgium and France are among the countries that do not have this right, but countries like the UK do.

Specific events are copyrighted such as the evening lightshow on the Eiffel Tower, so you can’t share that photo legally, but you could share one taken during the day. Most tourists and lay people may not even be aware of the restrictions or understand the law. Copyright law is not common knowledge and to many it doesn’t make sense. These laws are to protect the creators of works of art, but since many landmarks have expired copyrights, no one is harmed (financial loss) and no one gains.

It seems incredulous that the EU has time to debate and ‘waste’ money and time on such an issue. Copyright laws as most lawyers know, is based on the party being infringed making a claim. In many cases infringement occurs, but the financial compensation is limited and instead a mutual agreement is made or the item in question is withdrawn and some even don’t pursue a case. Should the vote be in favor of this, who actually benefits? No one, instead it will cost more in man power to take down those photos that infringe and that means sites such as travel sites or wikipedia will have to remove photos too. For those people who are unable to travel, it deprives them of seeing works of art and photographers to capture images.

While some MEPs are seeking a non-commercial clause so photos will be available in permanent physical places, it prevents many other activities that are now considered contemporary and the norm. Photos on blogs that have adverts would be considered commercial, and photos on Facebook would also come under this due to the small print on their terms and conditions where they reserve rights for any photos uploaded.

Is this a good use of EU funds (via EU VAT revenue) and time for overpaid MEPs? With the Greek crisis and migrant issues in Italy and France, shouldn’t they be spending more time on things that can better the lives of the citizens, rather than restricting lives with laws that benefit no one living? As with all copyright laws, it’s enforcing them; those are the issues. Try trying to sue a child who takes a holiday snapshot and posts it online is next to impossible and a waste of time and money. I’m sure Winston Churchill is shaking his head from above right now and saying, “I told you so.”

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