Freedom of panorama: making copyright Law (in)visible
Does copyright allow us to photograph a building? (yes) a loch? (yes) public sculpture? (maybe) a mural? (no). These answers are found in the operation of copyright law, which leaves the natural environment free to be photographed but places invisible barriers to the photography and sharing of images of the built environment.
This research project examined the so-called “freedom of panorama” exception to copyright infringement in the UK which allows copying of works permanently located in public places without the artist’s permission but only for certain works and even then only in particular circumstances. The research project has two tracks: first, a legal account of freedom of panorama, and second an empirical search exercise that shows how copyright rules apply to public spaces. Using Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen as examples the project demonstrates the importance of local knowledge in the navigation of copyright rules in public places.