What's the world coming to? (Photographers rights)

Discussion in 'Digital Discussion & Q&A' started by jon_k, Jun 23, 2007.

  1. jon_k

    jon_k TPF Noob!

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    This doesn't go in general off-topic chit chat, cause it's on topic of photography. It doesn't go in general shop talk cause that seems to be for the biz folks. I'm not sure where else this goes. There's no "General Photography chitchat" forum, so I'll post it in here.

    Basically Photography is Banned in Downtown Silver Spring, Maryland

    I should point out, for everyone else. Downtown Silver Spring used to be quite depressed, not a place to go and hang out. In the last five years, it has undergone a major revitalization. Much building and many new shops. It is now the place to go on any nice evening to eat, shop and just hang out on the 'fake grass'.

    $100 million of taxpayers money spent to revitalize this area and then the city gave control of it to a private corporation. The private corporation has now made a policy to ban cameras on the streets owned by them. Is this what tax dollars are for? To leverage funding to rebuild a downtown area only to sell the "product" to some private private company for a profit? Why do we even /pay/ taxes anymore?

    Our right to document our surroundings are being chipped away at an alarming rate. Why are people so scared about a device recording light anyway? Of course, while you can no longer capture that skyline, there are probably surveillance cameras tracking you all the time.

    Anyways, here's an HDR a friend took before he got booted off the area by the private corporation security guards who "own the public street":
    [​IMG]

    It's bit of a rant here, but it's justified I think. This is an important story. If a moderator wants to move it to an appropriate forum, feel free to do so. This was the best place I had.
     
  2. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    First off, this article leaves me some what sceptical as to what are or iare not the facts here. There are some very important points that were not in the article that has me wondering if the author didn't get duped by a smart security guard and the company he works for.

    As a 25 year member of law enforcement there are some things here that do not add up. First, the author was stopped by a security guard while standing on Elisworth Avenue and told that he had to stop taking pictures. Did the security guard detain him or was he under arrest by the security guard. Does not sound like it. Next he was told he had to report to the office. NOOOOOO. If the author was not under arrest, he did not have to report anywhere. He chose to report to the office and was told a story. If the security guard persisted in saying that he could not take pictures then the next step would be to tell the security guard to call the police.

    The office told him that Elisworth Avenue was under the control of the company. Who says, the company? NOOOOOOOOO, go on to the next parahraph.

    At that point the security guard would have probably hesitated. They hate getting themselves and their company sued. If he did hesitate I would have called the police. Let the legal authority come and tell me if this was public or private property. Unless the city or county sold the street to this company it is public property, held in trust by the goverment for the use of the people.

    Yes they can regulate the property for safety, but they can not deny the use of a public street. They do have the power to set some reasonable conditions on public land use. They can close parks at certain hours or limit the use of the street by vehicles for certain occasions. All of that is supported by law and decisions by the court.

    My guess is that the local law enforcement would come along and explain to the nice rent-a-cop that the street belonged to the city or county, not to the company and that would be that. If the security guard then continued to interfer with my actions well lets just say that after the law suit the company would be renamed "My Big Ol'e Fuc/ing Company" and several people would be unemployed.

    As for the story about the shop owners not wanting people taking pictures of their displays, tough caacaa-doodoo. If you are shooting from public property what they want does not count. If you leave you shades open and get undressed in a lit room infront of that window, you can't call the cops and claim the guy walking by was window peeping because you had no expectation to privacy. If the guy walking by comes on your property and has to press his face against your window to look through a slit in your almost closed curtains, you do have an expectation to privacy at that point and he had comitted a crime. Same thing here.

    Another thing. No where in the article does the author mention if and whom he spoke to with the county about Elisworth Avenue being public or private. Seems that he just took the companies word for it. It would have been nice to know exactly who in the county goverment said that Elisworth is no longer public property. The would need to be named in the lawsuit along with the county when they get sued for misuse of public property and illegally entering into a contract with public lands such as a street.

    Sorry, but this article does not do much for me at this point. As for a protest. Sounds useless to me. Sounds more like someone needs to get more facts and then look into legal action to me.

    As for photographers getting stopped, yes it happens. 9-11 did change things. But if you are on public property and not tresspassing, and have no other legal problems then there should be no problem.

    If I get called out (and I have) about a person taking pictures that looks suspicious, I am going to get your complete information. I have the right to do so. I am going to run a records check on you. If you have a warrant, you are going to jail. I am going to conduct a pat search of your person for weapons, I have the right to do so for my safety and the safety of others. I am going to question you as to what you are doing there. If you have proper identification, are not breaking any laws, have no warrants and answer my questions directly we are going to get along fine and I am going to let you go on your way. That is the way it is, get used to it.

    The problem comes from some photographers ignoring the rights of others, ie. tresspassing, or not knowing what their rights truely are and ARE NOT. If they KNOW their rights they may be inconvienenced every once in a while. That just happens.
     
  3. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    There is a Photographic Discussions subforum at the top where this keeps popping up.

    gyphonslair is very right. You need to know the laws of the local area. I believe in America you may have the right to take photographs in any area OPEN to the public. So even if you are in a private shopping mall, or the lobby of an office building, you can still take photos. At least I think this is how I interoperated what I read while researching the Australian laws that apply to me.

    This is the opposite down here. If something is private property they can unfortunately dictate what does and does not happen. This is the case in Southbank, a large open to the public area of Brisbane which provides pools, coffee shops, and otherwise almost parkland, but is privately owned, and a local photography club was kicked out as they have a ban on tripods. (safety was the cited reason, not taking wonderful nighttime pictures was probably the unwritten intent). In America this would not work, in Australia it does :S
     
  4. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Nicely written, gryphonslair. Jon, you can photograph whatever you like, not necessarily wherever you like. But a public street would include wherever you like since you aren't trespassing. Rights get involved when you use the photograph for something other than your personal interest or pleasure. If that security guard had approached me I would have explained that I was on a public street, shooting in the direction of his building. If he didn't want his building included in the image, then he should remove the building.

    I was asked to leave a store one time because I had a camera slung over my shoulder. It wasn't even loaded with film. I left without a word. I set the merchandise I was carrying on the floor and didn't complete my purchase. I walked out as requested. I never returned to purchase anything in the future. It was private property. The owner has a right to ask my to leave. Stupid? Yes, but the owner has the right to remove people from his property. The security guard, however, had no right to remove someone from a public street.
     
  5. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    I agree with everything said. Also you have to watch reporters they sometimes "Create" their stories. Not lie of course just make things happen the way they want. Some poor minimum wage security guard can be pretty easy to dupe. Of course the company generally writes the rules and the guards basically don't want to do any more than necessary so they seldom overstep them. It does happen but not nearly as often as is hinted on forums.
     
  6. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Ok, I did a little followup on this whole situation. Seems that the county put a bunch of money into the area and then leased it as "Abandoned" property. Now this can carry some interesting strings with it. Not being a lawyer, I am not going to try to explain them.

    However, I do believe that the county is going to have a real hard time in court claiming that the roadway was abandoned and that the county has abandoned the property. They would have to show that vehicles and people did not travel down the roadway. My guess is that is gonna be a little tough to do.

    If the county is claming that they have abandoned the roadway, then that becomes a different matter. They county can no longer enforce traffic laws with the exception of a very few ones like drunk driving and parking in a handicap spot. They can not fix the roadway or make improvements in the roadway. If they do, they have shot their abandoment issue to He##.

    Seems also that some of the county commisoners are rethinking this little issue as it is starting to stink like a week old fish. OOOOPPPPPPPPSSSSS. Maybe they should have thought it through in the first place.

    Sounds to me like a legal challange is needed here to get this matter resolved. It could take years to work it's way through the system, or knowing goverments and business like this, it could end very quickly. They hate adverse publicity and spending money on something like this. The stores also will not like the whole thing, as the publicity is bad for them as well. The county could even recinde the contract with the company.

    I would again state however, I would not take the word of some security guard or some company employee. Let the local lawenforcement come and straighten it out.
     
  7. PhotoPhoenix

    PhotoPhoenix TPF Noob!

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    i would do it anyway. getting kicked out is half the fun. it really puts your photos skills to the test when you know you've only got four tries to shoot before people start taking notice.
     

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