Copyright Scene

Copyright Scene: Eiffel Tower at Night, Paris

I recently attended a talk on Stock Photography, given by Dave Wall. I’ve been shooting for stock myself for over five years, but it never hurts to hear what someone else has to say on the subject—especially a professional. Having recently been to Paris, I was stunned to learn that the illuminated Eiffel Tower is a copyright scene.

Uh, erm, ‘scuse me?! A what? Coverage of the tower’s new-fangled lighting brought about a court case in 1990. It deemed the illuminated Eiffel Tower a copyright scene or concept. Yes, that’s right: you can’t publish night time photographs of one of the most famous iconic buildings in the world.

This goes against common sense. The general legal consensus on public photography reasons that, if you can see something from a public place, you can photograph it. Indeed, nobody is prosecuting the owners of thousands of CCTV systems. Amazingly, a lot of people are still unaware of this basic right, including over-zealous police, security guards and Daily Mail readers. So, if I photographed the Eiffel Tower for my blog, I would be breaking copyright!

Eiffel Tower and the Seine at Night, Paris


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