Photography of Public Monuments and the Law

Last weekend I attended a Fempire Collective meeting. The topic of photography in public places came up completely by chance and the fact that it is illegal to photograph some buildings/monuments. This took me completely by surprise. Also, if you’re wondering what The Fempire Collective is, check out our Facebook and Twitter.

As you know, the Travel Calendar is due to launch very soon. This led me to do some further research as we did not want to be in breach of these copyright laws. Unfortunately for us, the image of the Eiffel Tower at night is in fact copyrighted. This was the image we had decided to use for the front cover. Bummer. So now, we will be changing the cover which is not too bad because we have a large pool of images to choose from, but it is just a pain as we have already done a ton of promotion.

This lead to me to dig a bit deeper to find out what other landmarks are “illegal to photograph”. When I say illegal it’s perfectly fine in most instances to keep the photos for your own personal memories but publication in any sort is deemed as copyright infringement. Yes, even posting to Facebook. With most of these, it is fine if the monument is part of the background but not the key focus of the image.

Eiffel Tower At Night

So it is perfectly legal to take and publish photos of the Eiffel Tower by day. However, once the lights come on in the evening, the lighting is considered a separate piece of art work and is protectable by copyright. If you want to publish the image to social media you must gain permission from the ‘Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel’ (the Eiffel Tower’s operating company).


The Louvre, Paris

At this point, you might think the French government is being a bit awkward. However, they have opted out of the Freedom of Panorama clause. So again, this is not an image that cannot be legally shared without permission.

Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid Statue

The monument in Denmark is also protected by copyright.

European Parliament in Strasbourg

The European headquarters in Brussels is also subject to these restrictions.

The Atomium, Belgium

You will find in many public images the structure has been redacted.

Colosseum in Rome

This historic landmark is also subject to similar restrictions.

Despite the copyright restrictions a quick search on Instagram alone you can easily find thousands of these images. I would advise against profiting from or sharing these images however it seems to be common for the average traveller.

Having conducted this research we will be updating the cover of the calendar to ensure compliance with the law. I know this probably comes as a surprise to many as we were under the impression “if you can see it, you can shoot it”, with the exception of private property.

Check back in coming weeks for the new updated cover, and as we always state in our posts from our holiday booking guide to living with MCTD research is key.

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