Why Your Holiday Photos And Videos Of The Restored Notre Dame Cathedral Could Be Blocked By The EU's Upload Filters

from the blame-it-on-the-EU-Copyright-Directive dept

Although the terrible fire at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris destroyed the roof and spire, the main structure escaped relatively unscathed. Thoughts now are on repairing the damage, and rebuilding the missing parts. France has announced that it will hold an international competition to redesign the roofline. As the Guardian points out, the roof was ancient, but the spire was not:

Notre Dame was built over a period of nearly 200 years, starting in the middle of the 12th century, but the lead-covered spire, which reached a height of 93 metres from the ground, was only added in the mid-19th century, during a major restoration project completed by the architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc.

That fact has stimulated a lively debate about whether the roof should be restored to how it was, using Viollet-le-Duc’s design for the spire, or rebuilt with a completely new, contemporary appearance. The French Prime Minister, Édouard Philippe, acknowledged this issue when he announced the competition:

“The international competition will allow us to ask the question of whether we should even recreate the spire as it was conceived by Viollet-le-Duc,” Philippe told reporters after a cabinet meeting dedicated to the fire.

“Or, as is often the case in the evolution of heritage, whether we should endow Notre Dame with a new spire. This is obviously a huge challenge, a historic responsibility.”

Techdirt readers may be interested in what might otherwise seem a rather rarefied architectural discussion because of how French law implements EU copyright exceptions. The site copyrightexceptions.eu explains:

In the European Copyright framework the rights of users and public interest organisations are codified as exceptions and limitations to the exclusive rights of authors and other rightsholders. As such, they form one side of the balance between the rights of creators to exercise control of their works and the rights of the public to access culture and information. While the exclusive rights of creators and other rightsholders have been largely harmonised across the 28 member states of the European Union, exceptions and limitations are far from harmonised. Article 5 of the 2001 Copyright in the Information Society (InfoSoc) Directive (2001/29/EC) contains a list of 20 optional and one harmonised exceptions. In 2012 the Orphan Works Directive (2012/28/EU EC) added another mandatory exception. This has created a situation where user rights across Europe are a patchwork.

One of the optional copyright exceptions in EU law is whether to protect works of architecture, and sculptures in public places, or to allow “freedom of panorama“. France chose the latter, but imposed a key condition:

The implemented exception authorises “reproductions and representations of works of architecture and sculpture, placed permanently in public places (voie publique), and created by natural persons, with the exception of any usage of a commercial character”

This is why pictures of the Eiffel Tower at night taken for commercial purposes require a license: although the copyright of the tower itself has expired, the copyright on the lights that were installed in 1989 has not. And it’s not just about the Eiffel Tower. As the credits at the end of this time-lapse video show (at 2 minutes 10 seconds) other famous Parisian landmarks that require copyright permission to film them include the Louvre’s Pyramid and the Grande Arche in the French capital’s business district.

It is not clear whether taking photos or videos of these landmarks and then posting them online counts as commercial use. They may be for personal use, and thus exempt in themselves, but they are generally being posted to commercial Internet services like Facebook, which might require a license. That lack of clarity is just the sort of thing that is likely to cause the EU Copyright Directive’s upload filters to block images of modern buildings in France — including the re-built spire of Notre Dame cathedral, if it is a new design.

A key proposal that the Pirate MEP Julia Reda put forward in her copyright evaluation report, which fed into the Copyright Directive, was to implement a full freedom of panorama right across the EU. The European Parliament backed the idea, as did all the EU nations except one — France, as Politico later revealed — so the idea was dropped. That lack of an EU-wide freedom of panorama is yet another example of how the Copyright Directive failed to throw even a tiny crumb to citizens, while handing out even more power for the copyright industry to use and abuse. So if one day your holiday pictures and videos of the re-built Notre Dame cathedral get blocked in the EU, you will know who to blame.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter, Diaspora, or Mastodon.

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Comments on “Why Your Holiday Photos And Videos Of The Restored Notre Dame Cathedral Could Be Blocked By The EU's Upload Filters”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

EU is like a histerical cat lady. This latest idea has dementia written all over it.They have no historical juristdiction over the public plain view of photographical monuments and events that are public. Maybe their hutspa is admireable enough. You have to petition the scotus to get them off their duffs to rule on critical case points.

Anonymous Coward says:

The public pays taxs, the government builds a building,
it should be automatically free of any limits on copyright.When britain is outside the eu,
Will websites move to britain just to avoid all the new eu laws on copyright .someone uploads pic s of their holiday which have buildings in the background ,
to facebook.
they do not get paid .
Most facebook photos can only be seen by friends ,
people who you accept as as facebook friend.
they are not ads or sponsored images .
At least images posted by ordinary users are not really shown to the public
i, understand many companys have a facebook page.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Nope, I grew up during the video nasties era, was there when David Alton tried pushing through a bill that would essentially ban anything rated more than a PG and have watched time and time again as the Tories have tried pushing through draconian tripe that only got blocked because it would contravene EU law.

However bad you think the EU is, those idiots are worse.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"Until the current copyright battle got underway, I was with you. Now though, I think they might have a point."

People forget so quickly. Go read a few of Cameron’s old speeches and legislation attempts. Or, for that matter, that of any british PM since Churchill.

The truth is that although I believe that the EU is a dumpster fire everyone will eventually run away from, the UK’s native political system isn’t better.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: If you don't want people to see it and take pictures of it

This is driven by get paid to design and build it, and then as a bonus charge people for photographing it, because you own the design. This is due to the insanity of classifying intellectual endeavours as property, with an attached rent for people to use it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

And yet you offer no demonstration just like those before you. You know what your problem i John? Your like the rest who passed this. They are just trying to get a few more hours before everyone else gets a turn. They are selfish and they know it. And the thing that bothers them the most is knowing that one day..it’s going to be someone else

That must kill you…

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"This article is full of FUD and is demonstrably ridiculous."

…and you making that claim while failing to provide even one half-assed argument as to why is on the level of a five-year old throwing a tantrum.

Feel free to tell us what part of this is FUD given that the night view of the Eiffel Tower already has the very same legal prohibition the article refers to.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

I jokingly told Tim that this could happen.
That they would put out the call for all photos people had so they could assemble a giant gigapanorama to make sure they had the best reference shots to work from… and the upload filters would kill it or one of the rights societies would claim ownership of the images killing the entire project.

While it would be a horrible outcome one has to wonder if it would take something this stupid for them to look at the laws they’ve been pushing forward & finally admitting it has problems.

Historic Landmark left half destroyed because all photos must be mailed with releases form the picture taker and the rights owner allowing them to be used to save it, then having to scan each photo & make sure it bears all of the rights information…

Sweeney-Glow Sweet Chariots - Custom Cars says:

More of your predictive FUD.

Of a future in which at worst you can’t put specific images on teh internets. What horror.

If this ever looms large for you to notice outside of Techdirt’s "sky is falling" hysteria here, then you are a complete idiot and have an incredibly soft life too.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: More of your predictive FUD.

" Of a future in which at worst you can’t put specific images on teh internets. What horror. If this ever looms large for you to notice outside of Techdirt’s "sky is falling" hysteria here…"

A tourist taking pictures at night in Paris is already forbidden from including the Eiffel Tower in their panorama.

Include enough landmarks and you end up with Paris becoming a morass of no-photograph zones much like the old Soviet Union was.

There’s no "sky is falling" hysteria here. There’s just sensible people commenting that it’s lunacy to prohibit tourists from taking holiday pictures which include parts or wholes of historical landmarks…

…and then, of course, there’s you, Baghdad Bob, as usual trying to use polemics to turn black into white.

FlatZOut (profile) says:

France In A Nutshell

France & EU: “Oh dear! I can’t look bad in front of my fanbase. I know! Let’s forget this fire even happened”

Rest of the World: ”What are you? An idiot or a mouse”

France & EU: ”SILENCE”

Granny telling the story to her grandson: ”And THAT, Little Ricky, is how our government works”

Little Ricky: ”So basically our government is a Cirque due Solieil

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