Legalities of photographing the Eiffel Tower at night

Eiffel Tower

When on our travels, we love to take as many photographs as we can so that we can remember our holiday. One of the most famous places for beautiful buildings is France. This includes extravagant buildings such as The Louvre, Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower. However, it is illegal to photograph the Eiffel Tower at night, read on to find out why.

Understanding Copyright Law

The first thing to understand is that buildings are perceived to be ‘artistic works’ – and rightfully so. Therefore the Eiffel Tower has the same protections as a film, song or piece of theatre. Copyright law gives the founder of a piece of art exclusive rights to the creation for as long as they live, plus a number of years (this varies within different countries). The EU generally extends the rights to 70 years after the death of the creator.

In 2016, it was announced that tourists/residents of France are allowed to take photographs of copyrighted buildings for personal use. However, if these images are used for commercial reasons, this is a violation of copyright law.

Why is it okay to photograph the Eiffel Tower in the daytime?

The copyright of the design of the Eiffel Tower terminated in 1993, following the same laws of any artistic work. This means that the design is now open for the public to use. Tourism companies can rightfully sell souvenirs without any questions as this design is no longer under copyright.

Why can’t we photograph the Eiffel Tower at night?

In the evenings, the Eiffel Tower is lit up with lights that were installed in 1985. These lights are too considered as an artistic work – meaning they have copyright. This also applies to The Louvre and other monuments across the globe.

No consequences have ever come of this law, although it could be enforced at any point. It is important to bare this in mind when you are travelling.


Posted by Holly Burgess

Holly Burgess

Holly is a freelance blogger and actor based in West London. She enjoys writing about travel and theatre culture, and reviews productions for Theatrical Insight.

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