EU set to kill street photography


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Did you ever want to play questions?

Hey cool! It will be almost impossible to secure the rights for a busy place like Champs-Elysees, so we will no longer see photographs of it! Also, if they make this retroactive, it could keep lawyers busy until the Big Crunch - I can stop apologizing for how litigious we Americans are, plus it will create one trillion new lawyer jobs. Everybody wins!

Next step: allow rightsholders to sue artists for painting or drawing copyright works. It is piracy! How else are we going to protect the rights of artists?

I’m sorry, Mrs. Jones, little Siouxsie was caught drawing the Statue of Liberty, which, as you know, appears in Spiderman and many related works. In order to protect the French people, she has been taken to an undisclosed location for retraining. Please sign here, here and… here.

EDIT: Breakin the law while I still can. You’ll never take me alive, coppers!


[T]he Legal Affairs committee (JURI), has just adopted French centrist MEP Jean-Marie Cavada’s amendment…

Considers 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;

I don’t know if this is a change, or if it is already this restrictive in France. From the linked article, it sounds like a proposed change that is set to become law.

Copyright on the Eiffel Tower has expired. Since a 1990 court case, however, its lighting displays are considered “original visual creations”, thus this image [from Wikimedia Commons] is censored due to French FoP laws.


Having read the original article, it changes a great deal. It forces the French position that no public buildings or works of art may be photographed on all of the EU. Many of those countries allow unfettered photography of public buildings, etc. You can say that this provision isn’t being enforced, but the article makes it clear that it is, in fact, being enforced and that hundreds of pictures of France are being taken off the Internet because of this provision. You could say that it doesn’t prohibit anyone taking the photographs. However I fail to see the purpose of taking pictures you can’t SHOW TO ANYONE because you might be sued.

This is a huge change for many nations in the EU.


Really bad law. How is it going to be enforced and at what cost? What about tourists? How is the European economy going to be affected once tourists start getting caught by such an amendment? Frankly, if I were planning a vacation and I learn that I might/won’t be allowed to take pictures, well, I’m not going.


OK, I’ve re-read it, and you’re correct – I misunderstood it on first reading. I’m going to delete my other comments, which were mistaken.


The Americans may have the edge when it comes to fascination with the purely mercenary potential of copyright maximalism; but the French are unbelievably good at turning highflown theories of artistic creation and integrity into dreadfully overbroad copyright concepts.


I wonder what their plan to enforce this on tourists would be. Reviewing SD cards at customs?


If the owners of surveillance cameras fail to obtain permission from the owners of building that their cameras can see, could criminals use this to have evidence from those cameras in their court cases thrown out?


Why am I not compensated when “copyrighted images” intrude on my field of vision without my express permission?


Duh…let’s see how fast we can kill our tourist business…


Not wishing to justify this proposal in any way, but there seems to be a misconception in this comments thread that it’s about all photography, including, say, tourists’ photos for personal use.

It’s not: it’s specifically about commercial use of photography. Still stupid, but not as stupid.


Wasn’t Cavada pushing another piece of copyholery a few weeks ago?


What about when those tourists photos are posted to Facebook or Twitter?


No, no… you should be paying them each time. After all, you’re copying that image onto your retinas, however briefly…


Screw Facebook. Wikipedia is what’s really important.


This makes it incrementally less insane, in the sense that they aren’t setting themselves the task of frisking every phone and SD card; but it’s a distinction close to being without difference unless it’s accompanied by a specific and ironclad definition of what exactly is and isn’t ‘commercial’.

Back in the day, when ‘professional’ meant ‘carries camera loosely described as “man portable”, produces pictures for print by entities large enough to print things’ and ‘personal’ meant ‘happy snapper, pictures, if viewed at all, distributed in very small numbers to family and maybe friends’, restrictions on ‘commercial use’ were less problematic.

Now, unless you specifically keep photographs off the internet, or in access controlled locations, they are increasingly discoverable(with advances in machine vision, setting a crawler loose to hunt for violations of copyright on your building/sculpture/etc. will be increasingly practical in the immediate future) and an argument can often be furnished that the context is in some sense commercial(somebody has ads on the page, you have ever photographed a thing for money and so your publicly displayed photographs serve as an advertisement for your services, etc.)

Barring a suitably specific and narrowly tailored definition, all kinds of things can be treated as commercial at least plausibly enough to send a legal nastigram, and unless you happen to have somebody on retainer, or good luck with the popehat signal, that can be as good as forbidding it.


Today ISIS announced a photographic jihad across Europe and promises full angular documentation of the greatest architectural works of the west with free access to EVERYONE.


Brilliant. But regardless of intended level of snark, I’m taking this seriously.

(cue: late-night, knee-jerk, liquor infused opinion)
Dear EU (World, whatever…) That “copyrighted stuff” is in public view. Public. View.
Sorry that technology has tilted the field, but you can’t stop the signal. So go on your merry digital redact-a-thon. Cut off that copyrighted nose. I’ll get the popcorn and watch the future roll over your spited face.


Clearly, copyright and public space cannot co-exist together. I therefore submit that all copyrighted works be removed from public spaces.