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I know that there are some restrictions on night time Eiffel Tower photos, but what exactly is allowed and what is not? Does it make a difference if some persons are on the photo and the tower is only in background? Are there also restrictions on day time photos?

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How do you know that there are restrictions? –  Bart Arondson Apr 2 '13 at 10:45
    
@BartArondson I have read about it in some forums, but the information there is inconsistent –  Dirty-flow Apr 2 '13 at 10:54
    
The mind boggles - first desecrate then copyright and restrict. C'est Incroyable!!! Numerous boringly similar desecrated images do seem to exist.. What you want is the Eiffel Tower at night in NZ - none of this rubbish of copyright of a public view would exist. (Achieving this "may be difficult" :-) ). –  Russell McMahon Apr 2 '13 at 10:58
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3 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Regarding the eiffel tower:
Image rights / the Eiffel Tower brand
By day, the sun light and the eiffel tower are in public domain, you can take it in picture and publish / try to sell the pictures as you want.
By night, the eiffel tower artistic lighting is under copyright if it's the main subject of the picture.

I think if it's for your little blog among your friends / a little audience, it should be ok (writing the "copyright Tour Eiffel - illuminations Pierre Bideau" is a plus).
If you have a big blog or try to make a commercial use, you must ask (and pay) for the right at the Eiffel Tower company (SETE).

Regarding someone in a picture:
If someone makes a picture of me, who owns the right to it? - photo.SE
Personality rights - Wikipedia
If the person is the main subject and you can recognize them, you have to ask them before to publish.
If they are far away and barely recognizable it's ok.
(There is an exception for public figure during public life.)

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What I mean is Does it makes a difference if I take a photo of friends of mine in front of the tower, or just a photo of the tower –  Dirty-flow Apr 2 '13 at 11:02
    
No, if the tower is still important in the picture i think its rights applies. Adding somebody will not revoke the rights. If you want a picture of the tower by night for yourself and your friends, just take it, nobody will prevent you. –  travelot Apr 2 '13 at 12:53
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@travelot clearly laid out the relevant rules but I would like to clarify something and highlight an important distinction: There is – to my knowledge – no general restriction on taking pictures of the Eiffel tower (the police might ask you to stop taking pictures, e.g. if you are disturbing traffic and the like but that's something else).

The issues with copyright or personality rights only come up if you want to publish these pictures in France. Publication in another country will be regulated by the local laws and international agreements (I don't really know but I doubt personality rights can generally be enforced abroad, copyright however is covered by international treaties but the details are complex).

Also, would-be right-holders (museums, the SETE, etc.) are generally not to be trusted for information on copyright, they routinely try to claim rights they don't have (e.g. on pictures of old artifacts stored in a museum) and to intimidate people who want to take pictures without any sound legal basis.

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The view of the lighted Eiffel Tower is only copyrighted when it has non-standard lighting. So, when the Eiffel Tower just has yellow lighting, it is not copyrighted but I believe it is under Creative Commons.

This information is coming from a native French friend of mine.

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Regarding the official website tour-eiffel.fr, i'm afraid your friend is wrong. –  travelot Apr 8 '13 at 16:54
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