Sights you are not allowed to photograph – DIY – DIYphotography | Ad On Picture

I’ve just returned from Paris and have spent some time photographing some of the world’s most famous landmarks.

Some of these photos are just my personal vacation photos and will only be seen by me (and maybe my Facebook friends…DIYP readers…Facebook friends of DIYP readers…). But a few of them end up being sold commercially as royalty-free shares through my stock portfolio at Stocksy United.

If you are a photographer, and especially if you are a commercial photographer (commercial in the general sense of taking photos or selling photos for money), you should be aware of copyright restrictions on landmarks, buildings, architecture, art, and other intellectual property.

Read on because like this restriction on posting photos of the Eiffel Tower at night, there are stranger copyright restrictions on landmarks, buildings, architecture, art, and other intellectual property than you might think.

Getty Images intellectual property wiki

Getty Images has published an extremely useful guide to determining when a property release is required for the publication of photos of famous landmarks and other intellectual property.

The full guide can be found here: Getty Images Intellectual Property Wiki

According to the general site photography entry:

In principle, permission should always be obtained for filming on private property. Therefore, a property release is required for creative collections. And consent or permission for editorial collections.

Even places that charge an entrance fee or require a ticket to enter usually require a special permit for commercial photography. Consent should be obtained. These locations are therefore problematic in all collections, both editorial and creative. They should be avoided entirely in royalty-free content, while some may be appropriate for rights-managed or editorial content with appropriate consent. While some locations are free to enter (e.g. certain museums or historical buildings), images captured inside can still be problematic. Do your research before you shoot.

Exterior shots of many places and buildings as street scenes can be suitable for RF and RM creative collections.

Location shots are generally acceptable as editorial content provided the structures contained in the shots meet editorial standards (ie non-copyrighted works).

When photographing private residences, even off the property, a property release should be requested for all creative collections.

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10 Famous Landmarks You Can’t Photograph For Commercial Purposes

Now that we know the basics of when a property release is required, let’s look at a few weird exceptions that you might not expect.

1. The Eiffel Tower at night

As we’ve already shared here, taking photos of the Eiffel Tower during the day is a pas de problème. But once the streetlights come on, the Eiffel Tower is off-limits — unless the tower is part of a city scene and not the main focus.

2. The Louvre

Another famous landmark of Paris, except that photography of both the interior and exterior of the Louvre and IM Pei’s Pyramid are not allowed day or night. However, images of the Louvre and Pyramid can be used for editorial content if the building is not the subject or makes up a small part of the image (as in the main photo of this article).

3. Notre-Dame de Paris

Stay in France, the exterior of Notre Dame de Paris – c’est bonne, but the interior requires a permit. I’ve seen photos taken from the Notre Dame Bell Tower tour (i.e. not accessible from a public location) in royalty free collections that show some of Notre Dame’s gargoyles and the cityscape, so I guess as long as it’s the exterior are still there OK – even if you had to get permission (by paying for a tour ticket) to get access to take pictures.

4th Burning Man Festival

Who knew a temporary city in the middle of the desert could be copyrighted? Well, photos of the Burning Man Festival, including the terrain, structures, and identifiable features within the temporary Black Rock City are all restricted.

5. Hollywood Sign

The Hollywood sign has been featured in countless films and postcard photos — but they all either got permission or infringed on the sign’s copyright.

6. Hotels in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is just down the road from LA – but unlike the Hollywood sign, photographs featuring the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign are not copyrighted…but photos of all the famous Las Vegas hotels on the Strip are.

7. Sydney Opera House

A jump to Australia – photos with the Sydney Opera House are banned. However, photographs of the cityscape or wide angle shots showing the Sydney Opera House may be acceptable.

8. Ayers Rock

Australians even found a way to copyright nature. Photography of Ayers Rock (Uluru and Kata Tjuta) is restricted. Apparently even photographing one of the most famous features associated with Australia is illegal. Try to figure out how this works.

9. Maps, Globes and Atlases

Don’t take photos of your maps, globes and atlases along the way – they are protected by copyright.

10. Queen Elizabeth

OK – so the Queen isn’t a famous landmark, but we’re not amused. While rock stars and celebrities keep trying to restrict the use of their likeness, only Queen Elizabeth II seems to have been able to copyright herself.

In fact, the Queen’s copyright law is so restrictive that you can’t even photograph currency containing the Queen’s image.

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Speaking of money, in case you find one in your wallet, the US million dollar bill is copyrighted and strictly forbidden for commercial photographers.

What’s your favorite famous landmark that you’re not allowed to photograph?

If you have some spare time, it’s really worth checking out the entire Getty Images Intellectual Property Wiki.

Finding out which famous landmarks are copyrighted is fascinating – I’m sure there are a lot of weirder copyrighted famous landmarks that could be added to the list.

Leave a comment below and let us know which one is your favorite.

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