Belgium: Freedom of panorama – a new copyright exception
Managing IP is part of the Delinian Group, Delinian Limited, 4 Bouverie Street, London, EC4Y 8AX, Registered in England & Wales, Company number 00954730
Copyright © Delinian Limited and its affiliated companies 2024

Accessibility | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Modern Slavery Statement

Belgium: Freedom of panorama – a new copyright exception


On June 27 2016, the Belgian legislature finally adopted a new exception to copyright law, namely the freedom of panorama (FOP). According to this new provision, a copyright owner cannot impose its right against "the reproduction and public communication of visual, graphic or architectural artwork intended to be placed permanently in public places, providing that it concerns the reproduction or communication of the work as it is and that said reproduction or public communication does not affect the normal exploitation of the work and does not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the author" (Belgian Act of June 27 2016 modifying the Economic codex in view of implementing the freedom of panorama – new article XI.190 2/1° of the Economic codex).

In other words, the new provision allows under certain conditions the reproduction – for instance taking pictures – and the communication to the public – which can be sharing said picture on the Internet – of artworks located in public places, such as monuments and architectural works.

This new text has been long awaited in view of the development of the information society. It responds to a need that existed for a long time in the Belgian copyright legislation. Prior to the adoption of this legal provision, one could indeed be prosecuted for infringement of copyright for taking and sharing a picture, should the image include an object still protected by copyright.

The FOP exception applies to any visual, graphic or architectural work located in public areas. It is thus not limited to those objects located on public roads, which demonstrates the willingness of the legislator to give a broad application to the exception. The text nevertheless limits the rule to the works that are permanently located in the public area. It therefore excludes all temporary exhibitions and temporary works.

According to the provision, FOP duly authorises the reproduction and communication to the public of works protected by a copyright, but said reproduction and communication to the public should not affect the normal exploitation of the work, nor cause an unjustified prejudice to the author. This limitation intends to create a good balance between the purpose of the freedom of panorama on the one hand, and the author's rights on the other hand. This limitation notably narrows the exception to non-commercial purpose, as confirmed by the preparatory discussions of the Parliament. It means that any third party cannot invoke the FOP to commercially exploit reproductions of works located in a public area or communicate it to the public without the author's consent.

The new text entered into force on July 15 2016. Anyone can now safely visit the famous Atomium in Brussels, take a picture and share with their friends and family via social media, without fear of copyright infringement prosecution!


Claire Godefroid

GeversHolidaystraat, 5B-1831 Diegem - BrusselsBelgiumTel: +32 2 715 37 11Fax: +32 2 715 37

more from across site and ros bottom lb

More from across our site

In-house lawyers reveal how they balance cost, quality, and other criteria to get the most from their relationships with external counsel
Dario Pietrantonio of Robic discusses growth opportunities for the firm and shares insights from his journey to managing director
We provide a rundown of Managing IP’s news and analysis from the week, and review what’s been happening elsewhere in IP
Law firms that pay close attention to their client relationships are more likely to win repeat work, according to a survey of nearly 29,000 in-house counsel
The EMEA research period is open until May 31
Practitioners analyse a survey on how law firms prove value to their clients and reflect on why the concept can be hard to pin down
The winner of Managing IP’s Life Achievement Award discusses 50 years in IP law and how even he can’t avoid imposter syndrome
Saya Choudhary of Singh & Singh explains how her team navigated nine years of litigation to secure record damages of $29 million and the lessons learned along the way
The full list of finalists has been revealed and the winners will be presented on June 20 at the Metropolitan Club in New York
A team of IP and media law specialists has joined from SKW Schwarz alongside a former counsel at Sky
Gift this article