Proposed EU changes to national Freedom of Panorama (FoP) rights could have a profound potential impact on individuals and organisations taking photographs or videos of modern buildings and sharing them in any public media.
I blogged about it yesterday, musing also on the extent to which architects and other design firms would be prepared to administer a deluge of requests for copyright licenses for images taken from public spaces. Industry reactions to my blog post (via the comments and Twitter) were broadly incredulous: “bonkers”, “scary”, “unworkable”, “unnecessary”, “extremely worrying”, “ominous”, etc.
Yesterday, I dropped into the Building Centre in central London and talked to a few more people about the issue. FoP rights changes would potentially cause problems for many of the organisations that use the Building Centre for offices and for marketing purposes. For example, the basement exhibition area is used by several construction product manufacturers and suppliers to showcase their wares (the sector’s umbrella organisation, the Construction Products Association, also has its headquarters in the Building Centre). And the ground-floor hosts exhibitions about the built environment – the current New London Architecture display is ‘Public London‘: “public space is where the daily life of the city is played out,” says the welcoming banner.
Both the product exhibits (Selectaglaze’s, right, is typical) and the NLA exhibition feature numerous photographs of modern buildings (as do most of the brochures, leaflets, datasheets, case studies, websites, CPD presentations, blog posts, Facebook posts and other pieces of social media content, etc, produced to support products). Potentially, unless these images have been expressly sanctioned by the building’s designer, the proposed European Parliament FoP changes would mean they were in breach of copyright.
I hope the Chartered Institute of Marketing and its construction group CIMCIG will oppose the proposed EU steps. I spoke to people from the Association of Consultant Architects, the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Construction Industry Council (among others) yesterday, trying to both alert organisations to the issue and to put them in contact with Wikimedia UK’s Stevie Benton. He is coordinating signatories to a letter from cultural and heritage organisations protesting about the proposed FoP changes – if you want to add your body’s support, please email him.