Under European copyright law a well constructed exception allows people to create and make use of photographs of public places with very little restriction. The ‘Freedom of Panorama’ provision allows organizations, such as Wikipedia, to use imagery of European public spaces for free yet still protects the artists’ ownership rights over the images.

Yet the European Parliament, at the behest of big copyright holders, is looking to revoke Freedom of Panorama, prompting the world’s largest encyclopedia to take action.

If the law is scrapped Wikimedia, the images and videos division of Wikipedia, estimates that “tens of thousands” of images displayed in articles about such topics as architecture, art and notable European public spaces will need to be taken down.

The repressive legislation would be a blow not just for Wikipedia, who would be required to do substantial work to become compliant, but also for users of the service who would lose access to much of the public history of Europe, as told through images.

The not for profit group is calling on European citizens to contact their respective members of Parliament and ask them to vote against the proposed measures before they make it into law.

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