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100 "photoshoppers" wanted to erase copyright building

Organisers of an exhibition marking the 50th anniversary of the 1958 Brussels World Fair have sent out an appeal for 100 "photoshoppers" to remove a copyrighted building from photographs they hope to display.

The Atomium is the only structure from the 1958 expo that still stands. The Mechelen exhibition is collecting photographs taken at the expo, and appealing (in Dutch) for 100 people skilled in image editing to remove the iconic structure.

According to the Atomium website, the building's image is protected and cannot be used, reproduced or distributed without permission. And Sabam has been known to take action by sending takedown notices to websites.

Though not to Flickr, it would seem, since the Atomium blog is happy to link to the photo sharing site's many images of what is probably Brussels' most famous landmark - after a small urinating boy.

Glass Steel and Stone, an online encyclopaedia of architecture, no longer displays its Atomium pictures, after receiving a letter from Sabam's US representatives which said that "unlicensed reproduction and use of artwork on any Internet site with public access is considered a violation of the worldwide intellectual property rights of the rights holders, including without limitation, copyright, trademark rights and moral rights".

Instead the website says that under no circumstances should you take pictures of the Atomium.

"Atomium claims to own the copyright on all photographs of this building and their collection agency will sue you if you show them to anyone,"it says. "Even if they are just your holiday pictures, you will still be sued. Even if they are for educational use, you will still be sued."

In a statement, Sabam confirmed that permission is required.

"Since its creation, the Atomium is a copyrighted monument and any reproduction of its image in a publication or on a website must be accompanied by a prior authorisation request to the right holders or to Sabam,"a spokeswoman said.

The same applies to any Belgian building whose "author" died less than 70 years ago.

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