Share a Photo and Go To Jail?

There seems to be a growing number of legal issues facing photographers, their subjects or their clients these days. Some, like the recent prohibitions against “selfie sticks,” are easy to understand and relatively benign. Others, like copyright and ownership laws are far more serious and complex.

One initiative worth paying attention to is a proposed European Union law that would prohibit photographers to share images of copyrighted landmarks in the UK like the London Eye. The rationale is to protect the rights of architects who design these commercial landmarks. According to the proposed regulations under consideration by the European Parliament, it would be unlawful to share such images without prior approval.

Charles Swan, Director of the UK-based Association of Photographers, told the Times of London, that this “absurd” law "would be fairly disastrous and most of the British public, not just photographers, would think this was pretty horrific. The only people it would be good news for might be architects."

It’s interesting to note that some European countries like France and Italy already have similar laws in effect. In France, for example, it’s OK to photograph the Eiffel Tower during the day, but nighttime images of the illuminated landmark are protected by copyright and cannot be published or sold without permission. Here in the U.S. there are also locations and events protected by copyright, including the famous Hollywood sign, the Burning Man Festival, and some of the more famous hotels in Las Vegas.

Getty Images has published handy guide regarding the commercial use of landmark images and you can find it here: