On the 16th June the European Parliament's legal affairs committee voted on the Reda Report on the review of EU copyright rules. The committee voted in favour of an amendment proposing that all photographs of public buildings in the EU to be published for commercial purposes should be subject to prior authorisation. This would restrict so-called 'Freedom of Panorama' across the EU, where at present the majority of member states do not currently have such restrictions. This is not just photographs, but also videos and other forms of art depicting public buildings.
A restriction of freedom of panorama for commercial purposes may sound reasonable, but the reality is that the distinction between commercial and non-commercial use is not always simple.
Take the most common way in which most people 'publish' photos of public buildings, uploading their holiday pictures on Facebook to share them with family and friends. You don't make any profit from that photo, but you do agree to Facebook's terms of service, which cite that Facebook has your permission to use your photo (or any other content you upload) for commercial purposes. Crucially, it's terms of service also state that you have the necessary rights to allow Facebook to use the content for commercial purposes. This means that you need to find out whether a building is still protected by copyright (if the architect is living or died less than 70 years ago). If it is still copyright-protected you would then need to find the rights holder (which may not be the architect) and conclude a license agreement with them before you could legally post your photos on Facebook. This doesn't just apply to Facebook, but many other websites and indeed even your own personal website if you have any adverts on it.
The scale of the problem then becomes clear: restricting freedom of panorama would likely force millions of European citizens into breaching copyright rules with all the associated potential penalties. This would be ludicrous, and deeply damaging to digital innovation, which is driving economic growth in Europe today, and I will be defending freedom of panorama when this issue comes before the full European Parliament for debate and voting.