Special Release List

People, places and things to be wary of photographing

The suggestions on this web site should be regarded as guidelines only and not as substitutions for professional legal advice. Laws and their interpretation differ from country to country, and these notes relate mainly to the prevailing situation in the European Union and North America.

Because America is famously litigious, PACA has felt compelled to post a list of problematic photographic sites. It's not just America that's flexing its legal muscles; France is very keen on the act too.

However the attempt to copyright of the lighting of the Eiffel Tower at night failed: The Cour de Cassation (French Supreme Court) established on May 7 2004 that "the owner of a thing does not have an exclusive right on the image of this thing". The owner must prove that the exploitation of the image should cause "an extraordinary disorder or damage" to him.

PACA members have compiled a list of these properties and objects that may cause problems if shown photographically. Some of the properties and objects are alleged to be covered by trademark, others by contract (i.e. the terms by which a photographer was granted access to the property).

Sensibly, PACA does not have a position as to whether the use (either commercially or editorially) is in violation of any applicable laws, but it advises users to seek advice from their own legal representation to determine if any additional permissions are required under the circumstances. The list is far from a complete listing of all problem places, but merely ones that particular members have brought to the attention of PACA, plus a few added by fotolibra.

Keep fair play in mind. Clearly you can't use a photograph of the lone cypress tree at Pebble Beach, CA to advertise your golf balls without coming to some agreement with the owners of Pebble Beach; on the other hand trying to prevent a photograph of a famous building taken from a public place being used editorially in a book simply amounts to vexatious litigation.

What this boils down to is that many of the following places and products are policed by hungry, unfriendly attorneys looking to cash in on any use they deem to be unauthorised, such as your photograph. Be careful.

  • Barbie — the dolls, name and any product
  • Beverly Hills Sign
  • Biltmore, VA, USA
  • Buildings designed by Le Corbusier
  • Busch Gardens
  • Cadillac Ranch
  • Cars with recognizable designs (Jaguar, Porsche, Lamborghini, etc.)
  • Chevrolet logo/hood ornament
  • Chrysler Building, NYC
  • Coca Cola World
  • Commodities Exchange and Chicago Board of Trade
  • Concorde
  • Dartmouth College USA and the "tower"
  • Disney characters, any depictions of
  • Disney's Epcot Center and Disneyland
  • Eiffel Tower at night (the lighting design is copyrighted, but see the Cours de Cassation judgement above)
  • Emmy award trophies
  • Exterior of NY Stock Exchange
  • FA Premier League football matches
  • Flatiron Building, NYC
  • Grammy award trophies
  • Grand Ole Opry
  • Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao
  • Hollywood Sign
  • Hollywood Walk of Stars, Chinese Theater
  • Indy 500 race
  • Japanese Bullet Train
  • Lone Cypress tree at Pebble Beach, CA
  • Louvre & IM Pei's Pyramid
  • Major league sports in US
  • Maserati
  • McDonald's Arches
  • Mercantile Exchange
  • Mississippi, Delta Queen and Natchez paddle steamers
  • Mustang Horse Logo
  • Mystic Marine Museum
  • NASCAR images
  • New Orleans Superdome
  • New York Stock Exchange interiors
  • Newport Mansions
  • Olympics Athletes, Logo and torch
  • Oscar award statue
  • Pacific Exchange
  • Porsche
  • Pro Sports teams and insignias
  • Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
  • Rockefeller Center - all buildings and sculptures
  • Rolls Royce logo and Flying Lady
  • San Diego Zoo
  • San Simeon Estate
  • Sea World, Florida & California
  • Swan Boats in Boston's Public Gardens
  • TGV
  • Thunderbird Logo
  • Uluru (formerly Ayer's Rock)
  • Universal Studios
  • Williamsburg USA and its re-enactment

The original list can be found at http://www.pacaoffice.org/specialrelease.shtml.

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