Have you ever taken a photo of the Eiffel Tower at night? If you have and posted it online, you may have committed a misdemeanor.
The European Union, of which France is a part, has a law stating, that any painting, song, video, photo, or building is covered by copyright while the creator is alive and an additional 70 years after their death. This just means that any copy made without permission, even just a photo, is illegal. The creator of the Eiffel Tower died in 1923, so in 1993, 70 years after his death, people could begin to legally take photos of the Eiffel Tower during daytime but not at night.
Although in most countries, if the piece of artwork is not the main focus of the photo or video, thanks to the “freedom of panorama” law, it would be legal. The European Union allows member countries to drop out of the “freedom of panorama” law if they wish to do so. France is among the countries in the European Union that have dropped out.
So why can people not take photos of the Eiffel Tower at night? The reason is because of one small detail: the lights. The lights were installed in 1985 and are considered a piece of artwork, meaning people will not be able to legally take photos of the Eiffel Tower at night for a long time to come.
Luckily, taking photos of the Eiffel Tower at night is allowed for personal use. Even when it is posted on social media, oftentimes you won’t get in trouble for it. But you could.
Who knows? Maybe by the time the copyright law on the lights expires a new lighting system will be installed, and the endless cycle of Eiffel Tower copyright laws will continue.