Lens caps off - Panorama scare over

20 July 2015

Region: Headquarters

The European Parliament has voted decisively to reject restrictions on street photography that would have required us to get permission every time we included a building in a published photograph.

In fact, as many commentators pointed out, the risk was small as the resolution was 'non-binding' and, in the end, legislation is down to individual member states. What the scare has done is to remind us that what we can do freely in our own country doesn't necessarily apply abroad. How may of us have taken photographs showing the lights on the Eiffel Tower, for example, or the Atomium in Brussels, not realising that the relevant UK copyright exceptions do not apply to them. (I note that the European Parliament has cheekily illustrated its press release with a photograph - presumably copyright cleared - of the Atomium.)

It would clearly be better for the rights to be the same across the EU and while this question has surfaced during discussions on copyright for the digital age, this is not a digital issue. I think it's fair to say that, for the moment, common sense has prevailed.

Andy Finney is the Society's representative on the British Copyright Council