Eiffel Tower- A Different Story during Night

It’s well-known that copyright laws are there for protecting the creators of photographs, paintings, and musical works. Now, does buildings and light show displays are also included among them? As they too are considered as creative work, they are also protected by copyright act. If someone uses any photographs of such properties for non-personal without any legal permission from the copyright owner, then it would be considered as infringement of Copyright laws.

It has been an international mandate that copyright tends to last for seventy years after the copy righter expires. In European countries, the buildings and other architectural works can be photographed freely, provided that they are located at any public place. These images can be displayed or printed and distributed anywhere without any restriction.

Under such situation, there has been question related to Eiffel Tower, which was constructed long back in 1889. As its copyright has expired long since, this internationally famous landmark falls within the public domain. However, the story gets opposite in the night when the structure is illuminated.

The night-time illuminations were done recently in 2003 and hence being considered as ‘artistic work’ it falls under the Copyright laws. The illumination of Eiffel Tower is considered to be separate from the structure itself, thus for reproducing its images in any form needs prior permission from SETE or Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel, who are the operating Company of Eiffel Tower.

While the day time views are rights free, for capturing the tower at night prior approval is required, such is mentioned in the official website of Eiffel Tower. Many tourists are surprised with this declaration. It’s a common practice nowadays for national and international tourist for taking the snaps of illuminated Eiffel Tower and posts it on social media. The legal acts say that the social media being public and commercial websites, the tourists are infringing the copyright law. People can take shots at nighttime, but it should be for their personal use. It must not be distributed over internet in any forum or media.

Although users posting the images of Illuminated Eiffel tower would not expect to have cease and desist letter from SETE, yet if it has been found that the images starts attracting economic value, the user may face severe penalties. Even if the images have high public exposure then also high penalties for infringement may be imposed. Although it’s known that individuals would not do them deliberately, yet for the sake of caution the legal steps may be taken.