The image of the Atomium is protected and may only be used under certain conditions.

The image of the Atomium, which has considerable symbolic value, was formerly protected by its creator, the late engineer André Waterkeyn. The not-for-profit organisation Atomium asbl aims to ensure that this image is not misrepresented, distorted or used in a negative context.

The rights to use images of the Atomium are managed by SOFAM and by asbl Atomium, as appointed by André Waterkeyn and subsequently by his trustees.  Any usage of the image of the Atomium must therefore be submitted for approval to asbl Atomium prior to publication.

André Waterkeyn passed away in 2005. In accordance with the legislation whereby a work is protected for a period of 70 years after the demise of its creator, the image of the Atomium is protected by copyright until 2075.


Any individual may use the image of the Atomium on condition of a request for authorisation in advance to the asbl Atomium or to SOFAM, and the image must meet the following conditions :

  • the image of the Atomium is not to be used in a negative context (in relation to racist or anti-democratic slogans, etc.).
  • the image of the Atomium is not to be misrepresented, distorted or inappropriately used (for example, it may not be shown being destroyed in an explosion).

For reproduction of the image of the Atomium, copyright is due, for which special rates apply depending on the intended use. These rates are available from the SOFAM website.


The Atomium logo may not be used by a third party or company under any circumstances.



In some cases, the asbl Atomium may allow the free use of images of the Atomium:

  • for events organised by the City of Brussels and the Brussels-Capital Region in order to promote tourism in the capital
  • for use in tourist publications (guidebooks)

This use is free but is subject, as with all paid reproductions, to specific conditions:

  • permission must be sought in advance
  • the request must be comprehensive; in other words, the following information must be provided:
  • information relating to the project (purpose of the use)
  • type of medium to be used,
  • details of the print-run or circulation of the media,
  • the project layout;
  • the quality of the image must be approved by the asbl Atomium,
  • the copyright notice must be included,
  • copies of the image in the medium requested must be sent to the asbl Atomium.

These conditions must be strictly adhered to.  If it becomes apparent that this is not the case, the copyright fee shall be charged by SOFAM.


Since 15 July 2016 there has also been a Freedom of Panorama: what is freedom of panorama?

According to the principle of Freedom of Panorama, it is possible to take and circulate photos of three-dimensional works that are protected by copyright laws (particularly sculptures and buildings) and that are permanently on view in public places, without applying to the trustees for permission to do so.

A new exception has been introduced into the Code of Economic Law, which includes copyright legislation. It stipulates that the reproduction and communication to the public of any example of the plastic, graphic or architectural arts designed to stand permanently in a public space, cannot be prohibited by its creator, provided that the reproduction or communication does not conflict with normal exploitation of the work in question, and does not cause undue prejudice to the legitimate interests of its creator (art. XI.190, 2/1°).

Anyone seeking to invoke the Freedom of Panorama exception must meet the conditions set out in this article, which must be interpreted strictly.

In concrete terms, the following uses do not fall under the scope of the Freedom of Panorama and will therefore require prior authorisation:

  • any use for commercial and advertisement purposes
  • drawings, paintings and other graphic adaptations or arrangements of the original work, in cases where the work reproduced or communicated to the public no longer appears as it can be seen in the public domain.

What does this mean for the Atomium in practical terms?
In practice, little has changed. This new exception to the law provides guidelines for a situation that required clarification, i.e. cases when photos are taken of the Atomium by private individuals who then post these images on private websites, social media sites or blocks, for non-commercial purposes.  The asbl Atomium has already applied the principle of Freedom of Panorama for some times and this is no recognised in law.

Photos of the Atomium used for commercial and advertisement purposes, together with images of the Atomium that have been altered and placed in a different context, remain subject to prior authorisation from the asbl Atomium, and to the payment of copyright fees to SOFAM. 



Yvonne Boodts
Spokesperson - Management of copyright - requests for use of the image of the Atomium - management and coordination of requests for the use of the public space around the Atomium

Célia Huvenne
SOFAM - Author Services
celiahuvennesofambe / +32 (0)2 726 98 00


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