Belgium to adopt bill on the freedom of panorama

12 May 2016

The Belgian Parliament is currently considering a bill introducing a freedom of panorama which was proposed by the Liberal Flemish party. On 10 May 2016, the bill was discussed in the relevant Committee and upon insistence by the Socialist Party, a second reading will follow. However, it is expected to be approved as it has been co-authored by MPs of the other members of the governing coalition, namely N-VA and CD&V.

The draft law introduces the following exception 2/1 ° to the Article. 2. Article XI.190 of the Belgian economic law: ‘’reproduction and communication to the public of works of visual, graphic and architectural works which are made to be placed permanently in public places, if the reproduction of the work is done as it stands and the reproduction does not prejudice the normal exploitation of the work and do not unreasonably harm to the legitimate interests of the author.

It, thus, follows the EU InfoSoc Directive, meaning the art has to be made to be placed in public, cannot be altered too much, and includes the Berne 3 step test. There is also no restriction on commercial use. In addition, an explanation of the legal bill attached to the draft further clarifies: “with public domain one means public streets, squares,... meaning permanently accessible. It is therefore not for public museums or the interiors of buildings which are not permanently open to the public and for which therefore it also cannot be assumed that the authors envisioned that they would be publicly exhibited.” It adds that “it may be a reproduction in any shape, so both paper and electronic or other forms. As an additional condition it is stated that the reproduction should be done from the work as it is, so within the current environment.”

Therefore this concretely means the author or rights-holder can no longer preclude a reproduction (e.g. a picture, online publication) of his work of visual, graphic or architectural art that is located in the public domain - on a square, a freely accessible way or a public building.

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