It’s one of the most photographed and recognizable monuments in modern history. But did you know it’s actually illegal to take pictures of the Eiffel Tower at night?
By way of copyright law in the European Union (EU), any artistic work, be it a photo, painting, song, or even building, is protected “for the lifetime of its creator, plus 70 years.”
Common sense does generally prevail, in that many countries operate a “freedom of panorama” law, whereby cityscape photography is permitted on the basis that the “artwork” — or building — is not the main focus of the piece. However, France is one of a number of countries that chose to opt out of the freedom of panorama via a loophole in EU law.
The creator of the Eiffel Tower died back in 1923, meaning the restrictions on photographing it expired in 1993. However, the lights installed on the Tower in 1985 are considered an independent work of art, and thus, the right to legally take photos of the structure at night is still many decades away.
Having said that, there are very few cases in which the copyright holder takes action against someone using a photo of the landmark; the majority of claims are against large corporations.