As you sit under the world-famous building you think to yourself, “I should snap a photo and share it on social media so I can remember this moment forever.” But wait, maybe you shouldn’t. Why? Because it’s apparently illegal to take photos of the Eiffel Tower at night.
That’s right. All those Instagram images, Facebook albums and Snapchats making their way across the globe showcasing the Eiffel Tower under the night stars are actually illegal. As Snopes explained, “Distributing photographs of the night-lit Eiffel Tower is a violation of the artist’s copyright.”
Indeed, the FAQ section of Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel (the company which owns and operates the tower,) reads, “The views from the Eiffel Tower are rights-free. Permission and rights must be obtained from the Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel for the publication of photographs of the illuminated Eiffel Tower.”
As Snopes noted, the Eiffel Tower itself is in the public domain, meaning that during the daylight hours it’s totally legal for you to take as many photos as you’d like. However, the building’s light show, which was added in 1985, is technically owned by the artist.
The Eiffel Tower’s lights, which shimmer and blink for five minutes every hour from dusk until 1 a.m., is attached to the building, making it virtually impossible to get a shot of the building without the lights during the magical show.
You could always take a photo of the darkened building at night, but really, what’s the fun in that?
Not surprisingly, no one has ever been brought to court over their images of the tower or the light show at night.
So go ahead, be a rule breaker and take a photo of the Eiffel Tower at night. Just don’t call us if you’re ever brought to court for it.