Freedom of panorama introduced into Belgian law by the Act of 27 June 2016

Freedom of panorama introduced into Belgian law by the Act of 27 June 2016

Under the Act of 27 June 2016, the Economic Law Code is supplemented by an article XI.190 2/1°, which provides that the author of a work of visual, graphic or architectural art that is made public in a permissible manner, cannot object to:

"the reproduction and communication to the public of works of visual, graphic or architectural art that are made in order to be permanently installed in public places, if the reproduction or the communication takes place of the work as it finds itself there and if this reproduction or communication does not alter the normal exploitation of the work and no unreasonable harm is caused to the legal interests of the author"

This effectively introduces the so-called "freedom of panorama " into Belgian law.

Until this act entered into force, in Belgium it was in principle not authorised to simply reproduce or communicate copyright-protected works that are permanently installed in public places (e.g. buildings, sculptures or graphical works such as drawings).  In principle, this required the consent of the author of the aforementioned works (although there were a number of exceptions to this principle).

This situation has thus changed since the entry into force of this Act on 15 July 2016, and it is now allowed (for example) to take photos (admittedly under the conditions defined in the law) of buildings, sculptures or graphic works that are permanently located in public places without advance approval or payment of royalties. It is important here that, amongst other things, the reproduction or communication of the work does not in any significant manner harm the legitimate interests of the author and there is no impairment of the normal exploitation of the work.

For more information on this topic, you can contact Christine Heeb and Pim van den Bos (authors).