EU policy/Position Paper on EU Copyright

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Free Knowledge Advocacy Group EU

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Position Paper on EU Copyright Reform

Position on the published "Report on the responses to the Public Consultation on the Review of the EU Copyright Rules"
on the drafting of the “White paper on a copyright policy for creativity and innovation in the European Union”
on the drafting of the “Impact assessment on the modernisation of EU copyright acquis”
on the expected copyright reform proposal


The Free Knowledge Advocacy Group EU [1] welcomes the European Commission's recognition of the need to tackle the copyright framework in Europe and taking on the laborious task to modernise it.

However, we cannot escape the fact that there is a need of harmonisation in order to allow both European commercial and not-for profit projects to thrive in a safe legal environment and be competitive globally. Only by ensuring rules that will quickly and easily be understood by citizens and start-ups, can Europe become a hotbed for creativity and home to exciting new projects.


One striking example for the need of harmonisation is that publishing images of buildings permanently located in public spaces is unlawful in many EU countries, as architecture and public artworks are covered by copyright. This means that there is no freedom to use and re-use images taken in public spaces. Such examples include the Atomium in Brussels, the Louvre Pyramid in Paris, both European Parliament buildings and the Berlaymont. [2][3][4][5]

Another example is that today Europe’s laws and regulations make the use and re-use of publicly funded works complicated, a legal liability or even illegal. It leads to the absurd situation that virtually every single widespread image of the earth and space is a NASA product, despite Europe’s tremendous space programme. In contrast to other leading economies, where such freedoms are given [6] and such content is indispensable for industry and society [7][8], within the EU it is routinely not clear what is and isn’t allowed, leading to a lock-up of knowledge and information.

Therefore we recommend that:[edit]

  • The Commission should clarify the European copyright framework by harmonising legislation and creating a single EU Copyright Title
  • The Commission should ensure everyone has the liberty to freely use and share images taken in public spaces by introducing Freedom of Panorama universally (currently optional under Directive 2001/29/EC Article 5 Point 3.H)
  • The Commission should ensure that all works created by officials within the EU administration and institutions are open for use and re-use by everyone. Such works should hence not be subject to copyright protection.
  • The Commission should re-balance the current culturally and economically harmful mismatch between public commons and private property and close the “20th century gap” [9] by shortening copyright terms to the minimum term possible under existing international treaties and conventions.

Related documents[edit]


[1] Free Knowledge Advocacy Group EU
[2] Freedom of Panorama situation in Europe
[3] Report on the Freedom of Panorama in Europe by UniBIT
[4] Report on the Freedom of Panorama in Europe by iRights
[5] The Atomium issue exemplified
[6] Copyright and Other Rights Pertaining to U.S. Government Works
[7] Rufus Pollock on the value of the public domain, p.12ff
[8] Communia report on the value of the public domain
[9] How Copyright Keeps Works Disappeared


List with names of organisations on a separate last page.


For more information, please contact:
Dimitar Dimitrov | Wikimedia Belgium | +32497720374
Rue du Trône 51 Troonstraat, Brussels