When I went to NYC, I took some picture of empire state building. I am trying to figure if I can put this image on getty or istockphoto? What is the licensing around such buildings that not really public?

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    If you're planning on selling these things I would consult real legal people -- yeah, it can be a bit expensive, but it's better then getting sued later on down the line. Jul 26 '11 at 23:35

From what I understand new buildings (since 1990) can be copyrighted, meaning you are free to take pictures of them but not for commercial purposes. Older buildings (apparently) would not be a problem. You would think that copyright would be hard to enforce on an iconic structure like the Empire State building, Big Ben, Eiffel Tower. Check the US copyright law referenced in the article below. I would imagine the stock agencies can advise you


Edit: found another reference here, which even uses the Empire State Bldg as an example


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    Copyright law and practice varies from country to country. You mention the Eiffel Tower, which has a controversial copyright on night time images. Day time pictures are in the public domain, but commercial night time pictures apparently requires a license: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eiffel_Tower#Image_copyright_claims
    – user2559
    Jul 27 '11 at 6:42
  • that only related to photos of a particular event, not general night time photography. Of course someone might try to stretch such rulings to include anything, but I doubt a photo of the Eiffel tower at night outside of special events would be required to be licensed (though you never know when you're sued as a foreigner of course, courts in many countries are biassed in favour of their own nationals).
    – jwenting
    Jul 27 '11 at 9:24
  • Your interpretation in your first sentence is directly contradicted by the linked Wikipedia article with respect to the US.
    – Eric S
    Feb 9 '17 at 22:01

US copyright law explicitly permits photography of copyrighted buildings from public spaces, commercial or not. This includes interior public spaces.


Otherwise Street View would be illegal.


This topic was actually covered on the old iStock website. I'm not sure yet where the articles are now that iStock has switched to the Getty ESP platform but you can log in and look around.

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