Conservatives put correct focus on panorama photographs

07-Jul-2015 @ 18:45

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Conservative MEPs will this week vote to delete controversial clauses from proposed legislation which threatened to ban people from photographing and sharing pictures of landmark buildings such as the Eiffel Tower or Houses of Parliament.

Fears were voiced over a controversial clause in a report on copyright which said commercial use of photographs or video of "works...permanently located in...public spaces" should always be subject to prior authorisation.

It raised the prospect of photographers or film-makers having to apply for a licence before they could use a view of landmark buildings such as the London Eye or York Minster.

Sajjad Karim, Conservative spokesman on legal affairs in the European Parliament, said: "This proposal was a nonsense, but a nonsense we had to take seriously. We will not accept any attempt by Brussels to set Europe-wide rules for how and when people can take photographs or what they can do with them."

The North-West MEP backed negotiations which secured an agreement across the majority of political groups in the parliament to have the controversial clause removed from the report.  The decision is expected to be ratified in a vote on Thursday in Strasbourg.

Conservatives will not, however, support a suggested amendment advocating a blanket freedom to use photographs or other images of any works in public places. This would eliminate copyright protection for work such as street art by undermining existing rules on freedom of panorama in the UK for commercial use – which apply to all three-dimensional works such as buildings or monuments but not to posters or wall-art.

Mr Karim said: "We have managed to strike a sensible balance.  We are protecting the right of people to take and share their videos and snaps, but we are against an amendment that could damage the UK's creative industries and erode the rights of artists.

"Two-dimensional works must remain protected to ensure that somebody cannot simply take a picture of a poster or piece of artwork and sell it on for personal profit.

"Essentially, we cannot support any EU wide approach. Why should the EU dictate how member states manage their freedom of panorama?"

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