Ahh, an evening in Paris. Your stomach is full of good bread, good cheese, and good wine. Now you’re staring up at the Eiffel Tower as its lights twinkle and dance in the night sky. But if you’re thinking about snapping a photo of the view, you might want to think again. Snopes, the online fact checking site, just confirmed that sharing photographs of the Eiffel Tower at night is actually illegal. (Check out even more mind-blowing facts about the Eiffel Tower.)
Under current French law, it’s totally fine to take a picture of the Eiffel Tower’s evening light display. However, distributing that photograph via Facebook or Instagram might land you in hot water.
But snap-happy tourists, you can breathe a bit easier. You can legally take all the photos you want during the day, because the Eiffel Tower is a public space. It’s only the tower’s evening light display, installed in 1985 by Pierre Bideau, that is technically owned by the artist and protected by copyright.
The FAQ section of Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel, the company that owns and operates the tower, confirms it: “Permission and rights must be obtained from the Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel for the publication of photographs of the illuminated Eiffel Tower.” Translation? Sharing a photo of the illuminated Eiffel Tower without permission from France could make you a potential target for copyright lawyers. (Bet you didn’t know these surprising international laws were real, either.)
Your Facebook photos are probably safe, though—especially if you only use them for personal purposes. And considering exactly how much it costs to light the Eiffel Tower every day, it’s practically a waste if a few tourists can’t snap a photo, right?