Archive for June, 2015
by Gwyn Headley
As you all know, I am an extremely intelligent person, with a brain the size of an asteroid.
But even my great intellect has stalled when faced with the concept for a proposed bill to be placed in front of the European Parliament. So I need your help.
The bill, put as simply as possible, seeks to restrict the freedom of panorama in all EU countries. The freedom of panorama, which you may not know you already possess*, allows you to take a photograph in a public place. That’s basically it.
But in a corner of your photograph might be the Louvre Pyramid, the Angel of the North, the Kelpies, the Sagrada Familia, the Guggenheim Bilbao, the Atomium — some structure that someone, somewhere, has copyrighted. Under this proposed law, that will make it illegal for you to sell or share your photograph. Full stop.
What I can’t get my head round is — “Who Will This Benefit?”
Governments usually pass laws to benefit themselves or some noisy sector of the community. Occasionally they benefit the public as a whole. The only reason governments build roads is to collect taxes from the people living at the other end (OK, that’s cynical).
But I really cannot see who can benefit from this proposal. The owners of the Atomium? They might make a couple of euros from selling their own postcards. Yet at a stroke it will criminalise hundreds of thousands of innocent photographers. Is that a good idea?
Of course the law will be ignored and flouted everywhere except the UK, where it will doubtless be enforced with Draconian rigour. But the authorities can be as unpredictably vindictive as 14-year-old girls, and this is one more arrow for their quivers.
Île de France MEP Jean-Marie Cavada proposes to restrict the freedom of panorama in all EU countries, intending to limit the impact of “American monopolies such as Facebook and also Wikimedia” and serving to protect “a sector of European culture and creativity”. fotoLibra contributor Catherine Ilsley writes “I can only conclude that his aim is to reduce EU regulations to the lowest common denominator. This is unacceptable in my opinion as it takes away established rights enjoyed in other countries.” In the UK the freedom of panorama is permitted under section 62 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. The proposal was stapled to a motion tabled by German “Pirate Party” MEP Julia Reda and apparently was not at all what she had proposed.
Predictably, the UK media was outraged: “Now EU wants to BAN your photos of the London Eye and the Angel of the North!” screamed the Daily Express.
A letter in The Times last Friday, signed by luminaries of the British photographic world along with Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, strongly protested against the proposed legislation — “If such a measure is adopted in the future, most websites and most photographers would instantly become copyright infringers with any photo of any public space which features at least one structure designed by a person that is either alive, or died fewer than 70 years ago.”
Nevertheless the European Parliament is voting on the proposal on July 9th. Please let your MEP know how you feel about this move, whether you are for or against it, and ask how you can find out how he or she voted. In case you don’t know who your local MEP is (I didn’t), here’s how to find out:
I’ve written to mine, and this is what I’ve said.
On July 9th the European Parliament is voting on a bill to restrict the freedom of panorama — the right to take photographs in a public place.
Effectively this will instantly criminalise hundreds of thousands of innocent photographers, from selfie seekers to the 40,000 members of fotoLibra, a picture library which gives photographers a platform from which to license their image rights.
It is hard to see who will benefit from this unnecessary piece of legislation; the vested interests run so deep they are invisible to the general public.
Please may I, on behalf of fotoLibra and its contributor photographers, ask you to oppose this legislation, which can serve no public good.
Many thanks for your attention.
Managing Director, fotoLibra
Please don’t copy and paste my words because these systems reject identical letters, but feel free to adapt them in any way you want. Let the politicians know how you feel!
Catherine Ilsley says “I intend to write to Mr. Cavada and my local MEP about this. I have already signed the petition and shared it on my personal / photographic pages on Facebook and on LinkedIn. In addition to mailing fotoLibra, I also sent the petition to the BFP and another Europe-based stock library that I contribute to. Next up are UK-based photographic magazines. I would welcome any further ideas as I’m not sure that I can do any more at a personal level.”
Let’s all make a fuss about this. This is a needless proposal which can only hinder the great majority of citizens.
Here’s an example. Under Belgian law the following image uploaded to fotoLibra by Chr•s B•k•r is illegal, so please look away now if you are in Brussels:
This is what they want you to see — an image of the Atomium on its Wikipedia page:
*unless you live in the jack-booted juntas of France or Belgium, which already have laws which drastically curtail the freedom of panorama.
The pulchritudinous chanteuse Taylor Swift attracted plaudits this week for defying the might of Apple, the world’s most profitable company.
She wrote “We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation” (during Apple Music’s three-month trial period).
Her whole piece was packed with praise for Apple, but she resolutely made her point, and it worked — Apple backed down and will now pay artists during the initial trial.
Well done Taylor. The labourer is worthy of his hire. People need to be paid for their work. fotoLibra jumps on any and every attempt we see by corporations to dodge paying photographers their rightful fees.
Taylor Swift doesn’t need to pay photographers, apart from organised photo shoots, obviously. But we can’t help but notice the draconian conditions imposed by Ms Swift’s promoters on photographers who attend her concerts. Here are some extracts from her photographer’s contract (my emboldening):
“The photographs, taken in accordance with Paragraph 1 may be used on a one time only basis.
“You and/or your employer will be responsible for all costs related to the rights granted in this Authorisation.
“On behalf of yourself and the publication you expressly grant the perpetual worldwide rights to use the published Photographs for any non-commercial purposes (in all media and formats), including but not limited to publicity and promotion on their websites and/or social media accounts or pages.
“If you or the publication breach this Authorisation, all rights are granted herein will be immediately and automatically rescinded.
“If you fail to fully comply with this authorisation, authorised agents [of Taylor Swift] may confiscate and/or destroy the technology or devices that contain the masterfiles of the Photographs and other images, including, but not limited to, cell phones and memory cards, and the Photographs and any other images, and eject you from the venue, in addition.”