It’s something the great majority of us only think about in passing when we’re away on vacation – taking photographs of the spectacular sights we witness and the incredible moments we capture. This is even more the case if you find yourself in a position to visit a legendary location like Paris. After all, who goes to Paris and doesn’t take shot after shot of the Eiffel Tower to add to their family photo album or share with their Facebook friends?
As you can no doubt imagine, the impulse to immortalize iconic landscapes on film is that much stronger for dedicated landscape photography enthusiasts. That’s exactly why it’s so important to consider whether or not you’re breaking the law by doing so. It just so happens that if the Eiffel Tower is your subject of choice, you could be!
Can You Really Be Penalized for Photographing the Eiffel Tower?
If you’ve heard the talk about people being fined for simply photographing the Eiffel Tower and dismissed it as nothing but bunk… don’t. There truly are very real people just like you and me that thought they were innocently sharing some personal snapshots with their friends, but wound up slapped with hefty fines for their troubles.
The truth of the matter is that according to a directive included as part of the EU’s 2001 information society directive, it is actually illegal to photograph and share images of the Eiffel Tower under certain circumstances. To be more specific, the world-famous nighttime light show associated with the tower is actually considered to be copyrighted artwork under the law. As is the case with photographs of facsimiles of any other copyrighted pieces of art, photographs of this light show can be considered copyright infringement.
This, of course, goes for landscape photography art created for sale. However, it also applies to images that are tweeted over Twitter or shared via Facebook. People really have been slammed with hefty fines for simply sharing or emailing personal photos of the tower at night, so beware. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that the Eiffel Tower is the only landmark to which laws like this apply. Quite a few iconic buildings across Europe are similarly protected by copyright law. For instance, there are monuments in Bulgaria, Romania, and Slovenia that people are free to photograph… but not to share.
The Importance of Knowing the Law
That said, when you’re a landscape photographer, you literally can’t afford not to know about any applicable copyright laws attached to landmarks, buildings, or any other structures you may decide you’d like to photograph. This is especially the case for photos you want to be able to sell or include in your portfolio at some point in the future.
Do your homework before you travel or select particular locations as potential subjects. Many locations don’t have such binding restrictions in place, but quite a few famous landmarks – like the Eiffel Tower – absolutely do. A good landscape photographer always does his homework and sees to it that he’s doing things in line with the law of the land, wherever his art might take him.