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Photographing the Eiffel Tower is illegal

Please tell me this isn’t true.

The Eiffel Tower’s likeness had long since been part of the public domain, when in 2003, it was abruptly repossessed by the city of Paris. That’s the year that the SNTE, the company charged with maintaining the tower, adorned it with a distinctive lighting display, copyrighted the design, and in one feel swoop, reclaimed the nighttime image and likeness of the most popular monument on earth. In short: they changed the actual likeness of the tower, and then copyrighted that.

As a result, it’s no longer legal to publish current photographs of the Eiffel Tower at night without permission. Technically, this applies even to amateurs.

Full story and comments here.

Update, 7 February

Over at BoingBoing, Cory gets angry about another example: the city of Chicago spent $270 million of public money on a sculpture for its Millennium Park, and now prevents Chicagoans from taking photographs of a public sculpture they paid for. He says:

What kind of jerk sculptor sells the city a piece of public art for a public park and then demands that no one take pictures of it? Christ, they should run this guy out of town on a rail and melt the goddamned sculpture down for scrap. Then they should fire the politician who signed a purchase contract that reserved the photographic rights and run him out of town on the same rail.