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NUJ backs Freedom of Panorama EU campaign

3 July 2015

The ability to publish and sell photographs taken in public places is under threat from a new proposal to harmonise law across the EU on  'Freedom of Panorama’.  Currently some but not all EU member states allow commercial use of photography and other graphic works taken in public spaces which includes items such as buildings and sculptures in the image, without infringing the rights holders of the buildings' designs or sculptures and without requiring permission of those rights holders.

In the UK this is embodied in section 62 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 which applies to "sculptures, models for buildings and works of artistic craftsmanship, if permanently situated in a public place or in premises open to the public”, where making and publishing photos or film of such works does not infringe their copyright. This exception to copyright has worked well for many years, acknowledging that architects, sculptors and craftspeople have creators’ rights, but facilitating professional imagery of our urban landscape which is an essential part of our culture.

But with an amendment to a motion due at the EU parliament on Thursday 9 July, instead of harmonising EU law in line with the UK law above, the EU proposal would be that the "commercial use of photographs, video footage or other images of works which are permanently located in physical public places should always be subject to prior authorisation from the authors or any proxy acting for them".  What exactly constitutes “commercial use” and  “works” is not precisely defined, but could apply not only to buildings and sculptures but to anything visible with copyright or design rights, and to any sale of images of these works. That would affect commercial and advertising imagery and editorial and press imagery, shutting down professional independent and spontaneous image making in public.

The NUJ as a member of the British Photographic Council supports the campaign to extend Freedom of Panorama across the EU. A petition is gathering thousands of signatures, calling on members of the European parliament not to limit the Freedom of Panorama in any way but to bring the Freedom of Panorama to all members states of the EU.

NUJ members are asked to contact their MEP and urge them to support Freedom of Panorama across the EU and allow commercial use of such imagery without the need for prior authorisation from rights holders of the items depicted.

More information:

Sign and share the petition - Save the Freedom of Photography! #saveFoP

Find out and contact your MEP using the website -

The relevant section of the UK legislation is available online:
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, Part I Chapter III Miscellaneous: literary, dramatic, musical and artistic worksSection 62

British Photographic Council statement of support for the campaign

The Freedom of Panorama campaign is also supported by the NUJ London photographers branch, the NUJ photographers council, the campaign group I'm a photographer not a terrorist, and the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom.

The campaign is asking supporters to send a panoramic message, via twitter, to the European Parliament - go and photograph your local landscapes and views, then tweet your photos to the European Parliament using the following phrase with your picture:

Tweet -

.@Europarl_EN Save Our Panoramas #saveFoP @NUJphoto @NUJofficial @phnat

Tags: , europe, legislation, copyright, photography, photographers' council, photographs, parliament europe