Freedom of panorama in a free country

Bill No. 1677


What is freedom of panorama?

Freedom of panorama is a permission to freely photograph, draw or film buildings, sculptures and other works of art which are located in a public place, and publish such images or videos.

Such norms are adopted in copyright laws of 83 countries from the USA to Japan and including most of members of European Union, and since October 2014 they also took effect in Russian Federation.

This norm is still absent in Ukrainian laws, and we want to change this.

How does current Ukrainian law work?

At the moment Ukrainian laws allow to reproduce works of architecture and art only in order to present current events by means of photography or cinematography.

This means that if you want to picture or film a building or a monument, an underground station or a plaque, you have to get a permission from the author (architect or sculptor). Permission is not needed only if author died more than 70 years ago: in this case their work is in public domain.

Thus permission is needed for taking photos of most of Soviet buildings or structures and everything created in the times of independence. This includes almost everything from the building of Verkhovna Rada (permission from heirs of architect Zabolotnyi is needed to picture it) to monuments to Taras Shevchenko or Holodomor victims in Ukrainian villages.

Architects or sculptors generally agree with the use of images of their works if their name is indicated, but for most photographers contacting these authors is not easy.

What do we suggest?

We suggested amendments to the Ukrainian Law on Copyright and Related Rights to permit creating and using images or videos of works of visual arts, applied arts, architecture, urban planning and landscape design that are located in public and publicly accessible places.

This law covers the entire public space, except museums and exhibitions. At the same time for taking photos in places that are not publicly accessible (where owners permission is required for a visit) permission from the author of the work is still required.

The mandatory condition for such free use is indicating the name of the author of a depicted work of art or architecture: it is necessary for protecting non-proprietary rights of the author.

Why is it needed?

This law will be beneficial to a large number of Ukrainians: from amateur photographers (as even a simple photo with a monument can be considered a copyright violation!) to fine art photographers and cinematographers who would be able create films about modern art and architecture without additional obstacles.

In particular, this law will improve promotion of Ukraine for tourists. Ukraine has a lot of modern monuments that are worth being depicted in tourist guides or photo albums, and we have to give authors of such materials a possibility to freely picture them without being afraid of violating copyright laws.

This will also boost the development of a number of educational problems, including those under free licenses, like Wikipedia. In particular, due to the lack of freedom of panorama in Ukraine a number of images of Ukrainian monuments, including the building of Verkhovna Rada, were deleted from Wikimedia Commons, a sister project of Wikipedia.