The ability to freely share information of all kinds, from text to images, is core to Wikimedia’s mission of making all knowledge available to everyone. Recently, the Wikimedia community has mobilized in response to a European Parliamentrecommendation on freedom of panorama—the right to freely take and publish images of works in public places, like buildings, permanent works of art, and landmarks. A recent amendment to the recommendation now under consideration threatens to place restrictions on this right across all European Union member states.
Currently, some EU member states provide freedom of panorama rights; others do not. This inconsistency between different national law makes it difficult for the volunteer photographers and editors who build the Wikimedia projects to share knowledge online. Users on Wikimedia Commons have put together a 218 kilobyte guide, complete with 63 references, that explains the laws as they apply to each country. For example, based on this guide, the English Wikipedia does not freely use photographs of the originalAtomium, located in Belgium, and instead illustrates the article with photographs of this model of the Atomium from Austria.
In January, Julia Reda, a German member of the European Parliament, prepared areport known as the “Reda Report” for the parliamentary committee that recommended extending the freedom of panorama throughout the EU. Her recommendation was subsequently amended to limit the right to non-commercial uses. As a result, the version of freedom of panorama now under consideration is not compatible with Wikimedia’s goal to broadly share knowledge. If this amendment became law, it would be more difficult for users to freely share photos of public spaces. It would be a step backwards in revamping the EU’s copyright rules for the digital age.
The Reda Report is important because it will guide the European Commission’s review of copyright law. On July 9, a vote will determine whether or not the final version of this report will take a position on freedom of panorama and what that position will be.
Read the full post at the Wikimedia Blog.