Andy McSmith's Diary: A landmark EU ruling to end selfies? If only...

Do not be alarmed: freedom of panorama is not under immediate threat

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Indy Politics

One EU scare story currently doing the rounds is that millions of Britons may face prosecution, or even go to prison, for taking selfies in front of famous landmarks.

Were you to photograph yourself in front of the Angel of the North, for example, you would have to black out the monument before posting the picture to Facebook, unless its designer, Sir Antony Gormley, had personally permitted you to use the image of his most famous work, The Daily Telegraph has warned.

This hare was set in motion by a report due to go before the European Parliament on Thursday, written by a German Pirate Party MEP, Julia Reda, an intrepid campaigner against copyright.

In the UK there is what is called “freedom of panorama”, meaning that copyright laws do not apply in public spaces such as the hill on which the Angel of the North stands. But if you were to post a photograph of the illuminations on the Eiffel Tower without permission, for instance, you would breach French copyright law.

Reda proposed that freedom of panorama should apply in every EU state. A committee has proposed an amendment that would make French copyright law standard across the EU.

Do not be alarmed: freedom of panorama is not under immediate threat. The European Parliament may not accept the amendment, and anyway does not have the power to pass laws. It is not a given that there will be one standard body of copyright law across the EU. In the House of Lords, the business minister Lucy Neville-Rolfe confirmed that freedom of panorama is written into British law.

As for the French, “the Government recognises the diversity of EU member states’ laws in this area and strongly believes member states should retain their current discretion”.

Quite the endorsement...

“‘I think he’d be an excellent leader of the Labour Party.” The Chancellor George Osborne declared in the Commons yesterday that – like the Unite union – he is backing Jeremy Corbyn, voice of the antique left, in Labour’s leadership election.

Talking therapy

In the past, an MP would admit to having mental problems only after being caught doing something wrong which required an excuse. Only recently have one or two talked about these previously taboo issues when they are not in political trouble.

Simon Danczuk, the Labour MP who made his name campaigning against the sexual abuse of children, went on BBC radio yesterday to admit that he is seeing a psychiatrist about his depression, insomnia, heavy drinking and occasional aggressive outbursts.

This follows the excruciatingly public break-up of his marriage, in which he accused his wife, Karen, of having an affair – which she denies – and she described him, on Twitter, as alcoholic, arrogant and bad tempered.

After his radio interview, the tone of their Twitter discourse improved markedly, when she tweeted: “Very proud of Simon Danczuk admission today. It’s the first step to getting better. Me & our boys are right behind him through this.”

The Notorious HMRC

I hope I won’t run into copyright problems by mentioning that the Department for Work and Pensions has posted a rap on Facebook, the lyrics of which are “Can I have your attention/about the workplace pension? Did I forget to mention/millions of people are already benefiting from being involved in the workplace pension?/So, can I have your attention?” Poetry. Pure poetry.

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