Quote of the day: Panoramic freedom

People’s freedom to take pictures in public has to be more important that copyright protection.

Belgian MP, Patricia Ceysens, one of two Liberal MPs preparing a bill to implement “panorama rights” into the country’s copyright law. This is the principle that, if an artist puts their work in a public space then they must have realised that people will take photos of it – either deliberately or in the background – and, therefore, they can’t make any copyright claims over these photos.

Ceysens also notes that

That’s only logical, since these works are often paid for with public funds.

While this is not necessarily the best argument when talking about panorama rights, it is an important principle in itself. If the taxpayer has paid for somenthing, then the taxpayer owns it. If this principle were applied consistently then there would be no copyright applicable to publicly funded artworks (because ‘copyright the entire country of…’ is completely unworkable) and no patents on publicly funded research.

And that would be an excellent first step towards rebuilding a commons.