Ever wondered why a majority of the stock photos and videos you find of the Eiffel Tower on the internet are those captured during the day and very few of those captured at night when the tower is marvellously bathed in all its shimmery glory? That is because, by law, it’s illegal to take a picture of the illuminated Eiffel Tower as you will be violating copyright laws of France.
Nope, we’re not kidding.
Copyright Law basically gives the creator of an idea or a property exclusive rights for its distribution and sale for as long as they are alive, and even a certain amount of time after that. In the case of European Union countries, it’s up to 70 years after the artist has died.
The design for the Eiffel Tower was created by Maurice Koechlin and Emile Nouguier, and Gustave Eiffel bought the design and the copyright to the building, giving the tower its name. He died in 1923, and 70 years later in 1993, the copyright for the building collapsed as well, making the tower accessible to the public domain.
The answer lies in Eiffel Tower’s sparkly aura! The lights on the tower weren’t put up until 1985, which makes it still valid and included under the copyright terms, and hence illegal to be photographed at night time.
While you are allowed to take pictures and videos of copyrighted buildings for your own personal use, you can’t do so for commercial purposes, and that includes sharing the image. If you do want to share the image on social media, you should seek permission from ‘Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel’ (the Eiffel Tower’s operating company).
Better be safe than sorry, don’t you think?