Question on rights

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by rob91, Jan 10, 2008.

  1. rob91

    rob91 TPF Noob!

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    Ok, I've read through some of the photographers rights and have one question. What about shopping centers/malls? I'm referring to the outside, the parking lots, sidewalks...these areas (I'm assuming) are generally owned by someone, thus private, but is there any loophole? Sidewalks are usually public so maybe shooting from there is ok?

    The other day I was photographing the outside of a Macy's (located in a mall) and the "building manager" told me to leave. It seemed legit because I guess someone owns the property (sidewalk, parking lot, parking deck) so it is private...argh! Anyways, I drove around for a bit and came back, then drove up to the parking deck to snap from there. hehe.
     
  2. Christina

    Christina TPF Noob!

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    People photograph public places all the time. Maybe he thought you were a spy for another company against macy's. :)
     
  3. SCHNOOBS

    SCHNOOBS TPF Noob!

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    I guess if the photo is easily noticable that it is of that location then you may have a problem due to consent. however in cases like that for example, hospitals ahve a big problems with photographers... you have to be sneaky. it is hard with a large camera like the d200 and a 24-120 vr lens on it, but you find ways. it's half the fun.

    the man in question was a store manager so more than likely it is written in a policy book somewhere that photos cannot be taken inside the store, however out of it, I don't think there is a problem. If that were to happen to me again i would ask for the policy and a chance to look at it. why not?!
    another example is wal-mart, they will not let you take photos in there, don't know why, never had a problem out side the store though.

    malls and what not arn't necessarly private property, their still governed and more or less maintained by the state and federal gov. private propertires you would need to get a property release (if recognizable) ei self owned business...
     
  4. patrickt

    patrickt TPF Noob!

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    It really is confusing.
    Private property - your home
    Privately owned but open to the public - shopping mall, hospital, church, etc.
    Public property - property which isn't privately owned and which everyone may use - sidewalk, some parks, open space, etc.
    Public property but managed - some parks, city hall, courthouses, public hospitals, etc.
    Publicly owned and not open to the public - jails, parts of hospitals, sewer plants, etc.

    You get a lot of total nonsense on these forums and I've found just using good judgement usually suffices. My favorite is that as long as your feet on on a public sidewalk you can take a picture of anything you want. This is neither true nor a very good position to take.

    I carry business cards, ask permission when necessary, and try and act like a decent, responsible person. When my friend was in the hospital for surgery I talked with the head nurse and explained my friend's family were in England and I wanted pictures to send via the internet as she was in recovery. I took photos in intensive care, the hallways, and in physical therapy without any problems. Or, I could have been sneaky.
     
  5. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Depends on where you live. In America I think public defined for photography is anywhere which is publicly accessible.

    In Australia I can tell you the sidewalk and malls are public and I've had people come and tell me I can't photograph there to which I have told them that I can but what they can't do is harass me about it. The beaches are also public regardless of what the local councils try to say. It's federal law, and if the council claims it owns the beach then it's public property and a free for all.

    Check your laws and your ownership rights. Even if someone does own a block in our city his ownership only starts a few meters from the curb.
     
  6. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    From my experience here in the US the problem is often one of understanding the difference between Public Property and property that is Open to the Public. They are not interchangeable, but many people seem to believe that they are.

    Open to the public is just that, private property that is open to the public. Stores and malls are open to the public, but they are privately owned property. The owner or responsible controlling party can set the rules, and these rules can prohibit things such as photography on that property. That includes the parking lots and sidewalks inside their property line. Although it is open to the public, it is still private property.

    Public property is land or structures held in trust by a governmental body of some sort, be it local, state or federal. Streets, sidewalks on the governments easement, parks etc. are all public property. Photography is legal from this property. There are other forms of public property where the government has an overriding interest in that property for the common good that is greater than that of the individual citizen. Military installations, public works facilities, and arenas are all examples where they legally can and often do prohibit activities such as photography.

    In the US it is legal to take photographs of anything in public view as viewed from your own property, public property or private property where you have permission to be and photograph.
     
  7. rob91

    rob91 TPF Noob!

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    The guy who noticed me was the property manager, or at least said he was. I was there at around 9 am, they don't even open till 11 am, so yeah, I was pretty irked that I got kicked off.

    Thanks for the comments so far. It's not looking good, seems like the damn malls control everything. I found this article online: http://www.outdoorphotographer.com/content/op_ed52/2006/photo_private_property.shtml

    I also emailed my local gov to check who controls the roads sidewalks in that area, so maybe I'll have something there.

    Partially related, I found this one as well, I live somewhat close to this area. Kind of bothers me, especially because it looks like such a beautiful place. ...http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/20/AR2007062002354.html
     
  8. RMThompson

    RMThompson the TPF moderators rock my world!

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    You can take pictures even on PRIVATE PROPERTY until someone in charge asks you to stop, unless there is a sign telling you otherwise.

    Also remember even if you trespass your property is YOUR property, and they no right confiscate equipment, film, media, ANYTHING... unless you stole it from their property. You do not have to DESTROY any pictures taken, even in the act of trespassing, as the two are seen as seperate acts in the eyes of the law.
     
  9. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    Well, RMThompson, you are much more correct than anyone else in this thread. A public place is a place to which the public has access, NOT necessarily public property.

    Anyone can take photos on private property even when trespassing. Tresspassing is illegal but not taking photos despite any rules by the property owner and remember RULES of the property owner are not laws. The property owner can only enforce his rules by telling you to leave the property or be charged with trespassing.

    As indicated above, no one has a right to touch your property: equipment, photos etc. and by the way intimidation to hand over either equipment or photos to security could in law be construed as assault and perhaps theft and you should consider laying a charge if it happens. Being asked by security to wait for the arrival of the police could come under the heading of false arrest or unlawful confinement and those charges against security should also be considered, if it happens. Complaints or charges against the police may also be warranted, if they do not handle any confrontation with you in a legal and professional manner and by the way the police require a warrant to touch your property: equipment, photos etc.

    When it comes to your rights, it may be difficult but the bottom line is:

    Use them or lose them!

    skieur
     
  10. RMThompson

    RMThompson the TPF moderators rock my world!

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    Thank you skieur,

    The problem I see a lot is photographers just letting the security guards and local police manipulating them, when they are in the right. If we don't FIGHT for these rights, as skieur suggested, we lose them. If we just let every policeman kick us off a public sidewalk, then one day it WILL be illegal to take pictures in public... its ENABLING this loss of rights, and I cannot stand that.

    HOWEVER - there are always times when you have to pick your fights. Luckily any confrontation IVE personally had has been handled peacefull, but there are plenty of times when they haven't. Sometimes it's just better to walk away and come back later than escalate confrontation - I can't imagine a picture that is worth a broken nose for, despite the inevitable lawsuit.

    :)
     
  11. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    True, however the interest on $1,000,000 from a legal settlement would not be hard to take despite a broken nose and I am learning a lot about law suits.

    skieur
     
  12. In2daBlue

    In2daBlue TPF Noob!

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    Skiuer,

    Thanks for your post. Too often, it seems people with misunderstanding around the public's right to shoot post non-researched information on here when it comes to what is legal to shoot and what isn't.

    One thing that should be mentioned: If you're shooting from public property, aka the street or a public park, you can shoot most anything you want from there, including the private property like a Macys or someone's car. Standing in the parking lot of Macys is a trespassing but you still have the right to your images.

    If you're shooting government property though, it can be different. I had my film taken from me by government security many years back when I was taking photos of the Center of Disease Control directly after the 9/11 attacks when the anthrax was being sent in the mail. I talked to a civil rights attorney at the time who told me that I should leave it alone.

    I might win the case, but the attorneys fees would be so much that I had to ask myself if the photos I took were worth the tens of thousands of dollars it would take to win em back.

    I know when to say when.
     

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