Why Photos of the Eiffel Tower at Night are Illegal


This video was made possible by Squarespace. Build your website for 10% off over at squarespace.com/HAI. If you recreationally browse stock footage
sites like me, you might have noticed something—you can almost never find videos of the Eiffel
Tower at night, and there’s a good reason for that. They’re illegal. This video, fully legal. This one… well I can’t show it to you because it’s
100% unequivocally illegal. It all has to do with a bit of a quirk in
French copyright law. But first, a copyright law crash course. Wait a minute, is that copyrighted? Well their logo is at least, and their thumbnails
too, and banner… gahhh sorry Green Brothers, blame the animator. Copyright law basically gives the original
creator of a thing exclusive rights to its sale and distribution for as long as they
live plus a certain amount of time. In Pakistan it’s 50 years, in Venezuela
it’s 60, in Jamaica it’s 95, but in all of of these countries it’s 70. That includes the European Union which, with
copyright law, more or less operates as one country. One of the major exceptions to EU copyright
law is the freedom of Panorama. Basically, I can legally show you this view
of the London skyline even though there are plenty of copyrighted things in this view. For the purposes of copyright, buildings are
classified as artistic works. These buildings have the exact same protections
as a movie, a song, or this very YouTube video. You can’t just go and build an exact replica
of the London Eye without paying the original architects, but you can take a video of it
because of that Freedom of Panorama. Essentially, anything you see outside in public
in the UK and much of the European Union can be filmed, reproduced, and sold, but there
are exceptions—most notably, France. The European Union allows its members to not
have a Freedom of Panorama clause in their copyright laws so France doesn’t have one. As of 2016 you are allowed to take images
and videos of copyrighted buildings for personal use, but any commercial use is copyright violation. That means showing this video is risky—I’ll
have to blur out this, this, this, this, this, this, and this. These blurred buildings were all probably
designed by architects that are either alive or died within the last 70 years so they still
are copyrighted and the architects could sue me if I had shown them since this video is
commercial use. So back to the Eiffel Tower which according
to this Google reviewer is “too windy,” and “if it were American we would stop all
the wind.” Knowing what we now know, the real question
is, why is it even legal to show the Eiffel tower during the day. Well, it’s very old. Gustave Eiffel actually didn’t design the
Eiffel tower. He bought the designs from the Stephen Sauvestre
who’s employees, Maurice Koechlin and Émile Nouguier actually designed the tower. Nonetheless, when Eiffel bought the design
he bought the copyright too, but then he died in 1923. 70 years after that, in 1993, the copyright
lapsed, just like with any other artistic work. So, the Eiffel Tower, its likeness, its design,
everything is in the public domain. All those Eiffel Tower replicas sold on the
streets of Paris are actually, surprisingly, fully legal. However, the lights on the Eiffel Tower weren’t
installed until 1985, therefore, since they’re considered an artistic work, they are well
within their copyright term. For this reason, any photo taken at night
when the lights are visible is an illegal reproduction of a copyrighted work. The Eiffel tower isn’t the only example of
this. I can’t show you the pyramid of the Louvre,
the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, or even the main train station in Rome. In reality the Eiffel Tower’s copyright
has never been enforced in court, but at any moment that could change and you could you
to jail for your holiday photo. If you’re looking for a way to set up an
illegal black market stock photo site for European landmarks then please don’t use
Squarespace because I’m sure I’d get an angry email. If you’re looking for a website for anything
else, though, you definitely should use Squarespace. You’ve probably heard their pitch before—beautiful
customizable templates, 24/7 award winning customer support , build in search engine
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