A Photographer Just Saved Your Right To Take Photos Of European Landmarks

Keep snapping those photos!

Every day people are winning campaigns on Change.org that address issues big and small. We'll take a look at these victories and how the world changed in the last week.

Imagine you're visiting London. You take a selfie with the London Eye. You post it on Facebook. You receive a letter from Merlin Entertainments, owner of the London Eye, telling you that you are infringing on its copyright and must pay a fee or remove the photo.

That could have been the reality for European citizens and tourists if German photographer, Nico Trinkhaus, hadn't started the petition "Save the Freedom of Photography! #saveFoP," which was integral in the defeat of an amendment that would have ended Freedom of Panorama in all EU countries.

What is Freedom of Panorama?

The Freedom of Panorama is a provision of copyright laws that gives people the right to photograph or video buildings and artwork located in public spaces and then publish or use them for commercial purposes without infringing on the copyright of the architect or artist.

Sounds like it only affects professional photographers, filmmakers, journalists, and artists, right? Mostly, but not exclusively. As Julia Reda, member of the European Parliament, pointed out on her website, when you sign up for Facebook, you give the site permission to your content in connection with commercial or sponsored content.

Freedom of Panorama only exists in some European Union countries. In May, Reda put forward an initiative report around European copyright that would, among other things, extend the Freedom of Panorama to all European countries.

But when Reda's report reached the European Parliament's legal affairs committee, it was turned on its head. An amendment to the report effectively removed Freedom of Panorama from all EU countries instead of giving it to all of them. That's where Nico Trinkhaus stepped in.


Trinkhaus is a 27-year-old Berlin-based travel photographer and founder of PhotoClaim, a service that helps photographers enforce their rights across European countries. He started the petition on June 23, asking the European Parliament not to limit Freedom of Panorama in any way and extend it to the the whole of the EU. His first step was to share the petition widely among photography communities, which resulted in thousands of signatures within the first days alone.

Reda immediately backed the petition and promoted it on social media. Communities all over Europe signed the petition. #SaveFOP trended on Twitter and media across Europe and beyond wrote about the fight for Freedom of Panorama. The cause was given an extra boost by Wikipedia, an outspoken advocate for Freedom of Panorama.

On July 10, the European Parliament voted against the amendment that would end Freedom of Panorama in EU countries.

When Trinkhaus delivered the 555,225 signatures on his petition to Julia Reda prior to the vote, she noted the impact of the public's collective voice saying that "the petition has changed the debate in the parliament considerably and a lot of the parliamentary groups that originally voted for a restriction of Freedom of Panorama are clearly changing their mind about this."

But the fight for Freedom of Panorama isn't finished. Reda wrote on her website, "Most Europeans will continue to be able to post selfies online and view photos of famous buildings on Wikipedia unencumbered by copyright. We must now continue to fight for an extension of important copyright exceptions such as this one to all [European Union countries]."

Nico Trinkhaus urges photography lovers from countries that restrict Freedom of Panorama such as France, Italy, or Belgium to start their own petitions today.

This victory was one of 122 victories achieved in the last week, an increase of 14% over the week prior. Here's a look at where those victories were achieved: