Legalities of photographers

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by foned, May 27, 2008.

  1. foned

    foned TPF Noob!

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    I read around a bit, and didn't find anything that fit quite what happened to me. So, not only is this photographers rights, but citizens rights in general.


    So, last week, me and some friends headed from california, to denver, CO, we went to the red rocks amphitheater to see a show. While outside, we were drinking, the cops were sorta cool, they werent worried about the drinking so much as they were about the glass bottles (they ended up pouring out a 60 dollar bottle of cognac, off topic though) anyway, during the process of them padding us down for weapons, then taking our ID's to check for legal age, i had my camera around my neck. I figured, this is a perfect opportunity to document some of our trip, get some pictures to go with our lame story of being ticketed by some local cops. (some were undercover cops, this might be important later) so, i figured, why not take some pictures right? I don't grab my camera, i just push the button, take two shots. just before i do that though, I over hear the supervisor telling one of the undercovers "that guy is taking pictures" in a pretty angry tone, i take the pictures anyway, and then stop touching my camera at all. then he walks over, and, pretty pissed i might add, says 'YOU NEED TO STOP TAKING PICTURES, BECAUSE OF YOU EVERYONES GETTING TICKETED NOW.' I try to reason with him, tell him i meant no disrespect, i was just attempting to document a road trip. It seemed to work. Anyway, he successfully made me feel like a peice of **** for getting my friends ticketed. So i was pretty nice, i told him i would delete the pictures, and i was sorry for taking them. He didn't really respond. My friend however, was by one of the deputies, and over heard the supervisor tell him 'if he doesn't delete those pictures, we'll confiscate the camera' at some point he also told me that i was 'interfering with a police investigation' (mind you, i wasn't even being talked to, i was just standing there bored taking pictures, not obvious about it either, just a push of a button) I asked one of the cops if i had a constitutional right to take pictures of them, and of course, cops don't know the constitution so he was no help.

    Anyway, one of the nicer cops asked me to delete the pictures, and i obliged, to avoid further trouble for my friends (had it been just me, we wouldve found out how far i could take it.)

    so... i mean, theres not much else, they were undercover, there was no flash, no real sound, im suprised the guy even noticed. aside from the big camera around my neck being a dead give away.

    my question is basically, am i allowed to take the pictures? are they allowed to confiscate my camera? is it interfering? can you take pictures of undercover cops? do i have to delete them? you get the point. thanks! ;]
     
  2. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Just another story of over zealous police.... it sucks... Assuming you were on public property, they have no right to confiscate or make you delete those photos. They can (and they know it) make it really inconvenient or uncomfortable for you. Been there and done that... I feel like Crap afterwards.. Guilt because I played into their game... Anger because I know there is little I can do. Sometimes, I wish I was a board certified lawyer just to have the satisfaction of fighting them in front of the judge. Or perhaps a major news organization backing me when/if I get into trouble.


    On the streets, it's not a matter of who is wrong or right... it is a matter of how far you are willing to take it. For the police, its just another day on the job. For you, its a good way to ruin a day trip. Most police officers know that a simple threat (no matter how baseless) works in their favor 99% of the time.
     
  3. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    Public property has absolutely nothing to do with it. You have the right to take photos almost anywhere with the exception of top secret installations, and police need a warrant to touch your camera or equipment. Your photos belong to you and you can also not be forced legally to erase them.

    skieur
     
  4. abraxas

    abraxas No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    You had the opportunity to stand up for your rights and you didn't. Maybe next time?
     
  5. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    Often we speak of rights and photographers and the police. On one hand our rights are being taken away by being asked to delete photos. Our rights are even more trampled on when shooting "sensitive" subjects in this case a potential crime scene. Point is as photographers we have a responsibility as well. We have to be sensitive and respect the position of the police when being confronted. That means not shooting pictures while being interrogated. That means being respectful of their position. When you are being interrogated you have the right to remain silent and you have the right to a lawyer. That is it and they are not kidding. If I was the cop in question I would smashed your camera into little bits to prove my point. In the future do not disrespect the police while you have a camera in your hand. Your actions make all photographers look bad.

    )'(
     
  6. Stillsky

    Stillsky TPF Noob!

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    I think a photographer who surrenders his rights in the face of cop who's using position to be a bully is the photographer that makes all photographers look bad.
     
  7. astrostu

    astrostu Guest

    If it didn't mean too much to you, just humorous documentation of your trip, then I'd say you probably did the right thing to delete the photos - and by "right" I mean "easy." If you had time to kill, were local (you said you were driving from CA to CO), and weren't inconveniencing your friends, then by all means I'd say fight it since legally they have no right to stop you or make you delete the photos or confiscate any equipment of your camera equipment.
     
  8. GeorgiaOwl

    GeorgiaOwl TPF Noob!

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    I'd like to hear the cops side of it.
     
  9. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    That's just not true....

    Photography can be considered not acceptable or not allowed on private property.

    but

    They can never take your equipment, media, or rolls from you regardless.
     
  10. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    That concept may work when you are shooting genocide in Darfur, but it does not work when you are being pulled over for suspected public intoxication. As much as I dislike the police and government in general I realize that they are in a tough position. I respect that. Of all the times that I have been harassed I can honestly say that if they asked me to delete a photo or expose my film I would not have been that disappointed. Certainly that is not the point, but think about it. Why give these guys a hard time if you have less then amazing images. Now if you feel that your shots are worth arguing over by all means go for it. Chances are you will end up with egg on your face. Pop was not kidding when he said choose your battles.

    )'(
     
  11. Stillsky

    Stillsky TPF Noob!

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    Because it's really not about the images at that point.
     
  12. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    Then what's it about? Your so called rights? These poor saps (the police) face death every time they stop or pull someone over. Are you telling me you are going to disrespect that because you as a photographer and or human being have rights? Write to your congressman or got to protests. Do not give cops a hard time when they are trying to do their job.

    I should also mention that I am a photographer. It is only about the images.

    )'(
     

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