permits required?

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by ucddyan, Mar 10, 2008.

  1. ucddyan

    ucddyan TPF Noob!

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    Hello all. Still new to photography but I am concerned about one thing:
    Needing permits when taking pictures in public places (like city parks, or here in SF at the golden gate bridge, etc.)

    I contacted some people at the parks area and they said that you need a permit to take photographs for commercial gain. I asked specifically if I took a picture on a weekend vacation for instance at Fisherman's Wharf and two years later wanted to sell that photo, would a permit be required since I was on vacation and the answer came back as yes.

    On the city website in particular it said that if there is a wedding party getting photos taken in a public park in San Francisco, the paid wedding photographer needs to get a permit to take the photographs.

    I'm confused as to how so many people can take and sell pictures of cities and parks and people in these cities and parks and the such and have no mention of needing a permit from the city/state for these things. I know for people I need a model release and for private property or works of art I need a property release, but I find very little information on when/if permits are needed and where/how to get them. The other problem I have is as an amateur, paying $100 for a permit in a city to take some pictures that I may or may not sell one day is WAY out of my price range just starting off!

    Is this a big issue or is it something minor that professional photographers tend to overlook or not worry about? Ideally I would like to focus on landscape photography in the future and this is a big concern for me especially. Does anyone have further information on this subject? Any help/advice would be appreciated.
     
  2. Bobby Ironsights

    Bobby Ironsights TPF Noob!

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    Umm, I'm not certain where the confusion comes in. You live in a Berne Convention country?

    Alright then.

    Commercial photography, ie-photographs to be used for commerce (advertising)...you need a permit/contract/model release

    Reportage photography(news), art photgraphy (gallery), personal snapshots...all legal and you own copyright.

    Any other photographs? Do your thing! You can photograph anything, anywhere. Anywhere you can legally stand, you can legally take pictures of, except pictures of persons where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

    If you stand on a ladder in your own yard peeping through the bushes with a telephoto rig and take pictures through a persons bedroom window of a person, illegal. Bathroom photography, illegal.

    Now, if your neighbor walks into their unfenced front yard in thier smurf pyjamas in a suburb....do your non-commercial thing.

    If he invites you into his back yard and you take a picture, also...no permission required.

    There has also been some confusion regarding trespassing and photography.

    If you are trespassing and taking photo's, and get caught, what happens to your pictures? Answer-you still own copyright, for non-commercial use. However, you may find them used as evidence of your act of criminal trespass.

    What about if you are on private property (a diner) and you start taking pictures of other customers and the owner comes up and demands your pics? No-you still own copyright, and all they do legally is demand you leave. If they threaten to call the cops? Let them.

    However, all this freedom leads toward one place....

    Respect!

    You are legally allowed to take practically any picture at any time...but who really wants to act like a JackAss, just because it's legally allowed?

    The last time I was in a bar, and wanted to take some pictures of a couple guys playing pool, I bought a round of beers....they held poses when I asked.

    P.S.. The fact that you have legal rights doesn't mean that they will always be respected, even by the authorities. If the law was both perfectly known and perfectly respected by the police, 80% of all defence attorneys would be instantly unemployed. The police usually mean well, but the law is very complex, and changes often. As a photographer, it's important that YOU know.
     
  3. ucddyan

    ucddyan TPF Noob!

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    Okay, I understand that I can supposedly take pictures wherever I want whenever I want, and that I need releases for certain things. However, there is IN THE LAW (which I have read) in San Francisco that if a photographer is taking pictures for profit (meaning a wedding photographer getting paid even) in a state park such as Golden Gate Park then they need a permit from the city. Supposedly becuase one is making profit from the photographs, a permit is required. That is why I was asking what exactly "commercial" means because in some laws it's for adversting only and other laws it's for any profit gained from the photograph taken at that particular place.

    If I take these pictures in a state park or a city that requires permits for professional photographers, if I later sell these pictures through a stock agency and they are used for adverstising, then should I have had a permit when the photograph was taken? If someone wants to license a photo from me at a later date that I took on a vacation, would I have needed a permit at the time the picture was taken?

    I don't know if I will ever go through with selling my pictures, but I'd like to be on the right track from the beginning which is why I"m looking so much into releases and copyright issues, when I ran across this permit issue that I had never heard of before.

    Anyone else know anything about this permit thing in cities and state parks? Any help would be greatly appreciated!
     
  4. Jeff Canes

    Jeff Canes No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    in national parks if you are shooting stills without models, lights or sets you do not a permits
     
  5. ucddyan

    ucddyan TPF Noob!

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    do you know about state parks or inner cities? I read about the national parks law. Only need a permit if you're going somewhere that the general public is not allowed...

    I'm more worried if I go to St Louis or something and take a picture of the Arc and sell it, that I might get in trouble for not having a permit at the time the picture was taken.

    Also, state parks, city parks, national parks, and cities all have different people regulating who you get the permit from. It's a very confusing topic for me and reading the laws does not help much.

    Maybe I should just stick to Yosemite then...
     
  6. Bobby Ironsights

    Bobby Ironsights TPF Noob!

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    No, no, you misunderstand. When I put (advertising) I meant (i.e. advertising, for example...advertising.

    I didn't mean that ONLY advertising is considered commercial. I pointed out advertising as one of the ventures that is considered commercial Purely for profit ventures ARE commercial.

    However, press and art photography are exempt from the profit restrictions. Reporters/persons with a camera in the right place at the right time still have freedom of the press protections even if they get paid for a photograph, and you sell a limited number of prints as art and still not be considered "commercial"

    That line does get blurry though. There was a case of some NYC photog who sold more than a thousand prints IIRC, of a orthodox jew and got sued by the aforesaid jew because "graven images" were against the jews religion and he wasn't asked to and would not sign a models release...and the photog won, IIRC.
     
  7. bellacat

    bellacat TPF Noob!

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    wow this is a very interesting topic. I hadn't even thought about needing permits in SF Golden Gate Park. I have not photographed there yet but was trying to plan a trip in a couple weeks for maternity session. For this session in particular I am not going to get paid as they are for a friend but I do intend on using them on my website for my portfolio. I'm a bit confused now :(
     
  8. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    You have missed the articles on this are in american photo magazines. The reason for permits and what it applies to, is large scale shoots. In some parks in California, large shoots were tying up the whole park and disturbing normal use. A large scale use according to the article referred to a truck of equipment and props, a crew, stands, cords, and even a generator. Some parks people are being overzealous in interpreting the need for permits but one magazine verfied that it was for shoots of such a size that they disturbed normal use of the park.

    skieur
     
  9. ksm

    ksm TPF Noob!

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    This topic always comes up in every forum and rightfully so. Very confusing lawyers' essays and articles don't make it any easier. I have read a lot on this subject and after a lot of head banging these are some guidelines that I think should work. (Not a lawyer here this is just advice and might be bad advice do your own background research).

    - Every country has its own copyright and trademark and privacy laws, try to familiarise yourself with them

    -Every US state has there own set of the same laws which either complete federal law or even contradict it but federal law should supersede it.

    -Even every US locality (i.e city) has its own privacy laws)

    -You have the right to take any picture of anything and anyone you want as long as you were standing on public property and there was no reasonable expectation of privacy (i.e. you used a telelphoto lense to peek through someones window)

    -Do not mix up different types of permits. There are times because of local law that you might need a permit. There might be a need for a permit because you photo shooting might cause a ruckus/disturbance in the area or a permit for commercially exploiting the photographs or the locality might require both!

    -If photos are not going to be uses commercially you do not need a permit. What is commercial use? Well, that one is the hardest one to answer but here is my rough attempt. If the photographs are to be used to promote another product, service, goods e.t.c. then anything and anyone in that photography might be linked to that said product, service... They have a right to their own identity and property. At that point you have to make sure you have all the correct model and property releases. Now if you were to sell a print of the same exact photography so someone can hang on their wall, that changes everything. The buyer is buying in essence the "art" of your skill in 1 print. What makes the print desirable is not just the subject but the angle, perspective, the color saturation, any PP you used. Just like a painter did not need any permit to sit in front of the brroklyn bridge and have at it and then sell the painting neither do you. Only difference is that he's got one painting he can sell you theoretically can keep selling the same photo thats where the limited amount comes in but there is no concretenumber of what is limited. Again if you plan on using the photographs other than just print/art sales you need all releases even on property especially newer buildings and art/statues where architect or artist has copyright of the design.

    -I've never been to SF so not sure about that example but here is my question: Are you sure the permit is actual permit of the photography of the bridge/park or does the wording of the permit make it confusing? In other words inphotography for hire, large groups of people are expected(i.e. weddings, fashion shoots e.t.c.) and you need permits,not because the bridge needs a permit but because of the associated disturbance that will be created. In essence it's a permit of disturbing the peace and since its worded the way it is it unfortunately covers everyone that plans to use this photograph commercially (see above).

    Hope this helps, and again do your own research! This is just my undersatnding of these laws. Do not depend on them
     
  10. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    This seems to me to be the only place where you slipped. You can use the photo as an illustration in a magazine or in other ways as long as it is not used "out of context" which is basically what advertising is. So, for example photos of tourists in the streets in a tourist magazine would be OK but photos of tourists advertising a tour company would be illegal.

    Statues and art that is located permanently in a public place are not subject to copyright related to photography and neither are buildings. Design copyright cannot be infringed by photography. It is iinfringed by copying the design into another building.

    skieur
     
  11. ksm

    ksm TPF Noob!

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    Skieur, I agree as for the "purpose of illustration" photograph. That falls under editorial photos, which i should have covered. When a photograph is taken and used only for the purpose of conveying a fact or to illustrate a point,it falls under the editorial provisions of copyright law. Thats how newspaper photographers get to take those photographs that some might wonder how thet can get away with displaying them. If you chose to take and sell photographs like that, you better make sure you trust who is using them because if a legal battle ensues over a photo and its subject it is usually the article or even the photo's caption that makes the photograph change status from stating a fact to implying the subject is related with something/someone else hence losing its editorial status.

    Now as far as statues and buildings. There was a time where architects/artists were not allowed to copyright their works if they were to be displayed in public. So large statues were thatwere comissioned by cities displayed in town squares for example where not copyrighted. That has changed. I cannot remember the exact year but now the artist can copyright their works.

    That does not mean you cannot photograph them, it means it limits your use.Where you planning on advertising a product with that picture of that statue? Better get the artists permission!
     
  12. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    -You have the right to take any picture of anything and anyone you want as long as you were standing on public property and there was no reasonable expectation of privacy (i.e. you used a telelphoto lense to peek through someones window) from KSM

    This is not quite correct either. You can take a picture of anything or anyone as long as they are IN A PUBLIC PLACE, not necessarily on public property. Public place is defined in terms of accessible to by the general public.

    skieur
     

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