Photography and the Law

whitemore55

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Great post. This is really a useful article. Thank you for sharing. I like it.:thumbup:
 

skieur

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Books are certainly helpful, but sometimes it is necessary to "read between the lines" since some writers have an agenda as well. I always remember a famous lawyer whose sessions on copyright I attended. One session I attended as an employee/user of copyright and the other I attended as an employer/administrator. The lawyer had 2 completely different "spins" on the law for each group. For the employees/users it amounted to don't even think about "bending the interpretation of copyright law" or you will get sued. For the administrators, it was more that you are likely to get sued only in more extreme situations and many issues can be settled without the courts. She also for the administrators pointed out defenses for threatened law suits.

skieur

The above books are to get familiar with laws. Most cops won't bother you if you start to spout it off. We're photographers, lets stick to photography and let lawyers do their thing.

It is to your advantage to know the laws as written as well as the case law interpretations by the courts that have been appealed and won. When it gets beyond that into interpretations by lawyers then you need to read much, more carefully. I have read a considerable amount of what could be termed "pro" and "anti" photographer related interpretations of the law and copyright by lawyers.

skieur
 

RRRoland13

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Thank you for sharing! I would like to add though that you can also get the badge numbers of the Officers/Guards off their uniform its usually at their chest or shoulder area..
 

skieur

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Thank you for sharing! I would like to add though that you can also get the badge numbers of the Officers/Guards off their uniform its usually at their chest or shoulder area..

Except when they illegally remove them, such as during the G20 protest where you live.

skieur
 

cdimitric

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So I have a few questions in regards to your post:

1) Basically I can take a photo of anyone in a public place and use it for anything (almost) except advertising? So I can use it to sell in private galleries (as stated) and eve publish them in newspapers and even sell them on stock photography websites?

2) Would any government owned or run area, other than a top secret one, be considered a "public" place? For example, beaches, courthouses, judicial buildings (basically areas where government officials meet)?

3) Can I take pics of models in public places, such as a street corner, without a tripod and not need a permit?


 

skieur

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So I have a few questions in regards to your post:

1) Basically I can take a photo of anyone in a public place and use it for anything (almost) except advertising? So I can use it to sell in private galleries (as stated) and eve publish them in newspapers and even sell them on stock photography websites?

2) Would any government owned or run area, other than a top secret one, be considered a "public" place? For example, beaches, courthouses, judicial buildings (basically areas where government officials meet)?

3) Can I take pics of models in public places, such as a street corner, without a tripod and not need a permit?



1. Yes, you can take a photo of anyone in a public place and use it for almost anything except advertising in the U.S. and most of Canada. There was a ruling in Quebec that complicated things a little, in the sense that Quebec rulings questionably apply to the rest of Canada, since their justice system has some differences. Yes, you can sell it in private galleries and publish it in newspapers. Mine have been published in newspapers of children without releases. Stock photo sites may require you to get releases but that is the website NOT a legal requirement.

2. Only US government sites on a top secret list like Area 51 are subject to photographic restrictions and that is a very short list which most photographers would likely not shoot even by accident. Government buildings, courthouses, judicial buildings, etc. are OK. I even shot the Ontario Provincial Parliament in session during a debate. You may not be able to shoot inside a court in session in many areas but other than that there are few legal restrictions.


I should note hear that local bylaws or ordinances against for example shooting trains, subway systems etc. have not been tested on appeal as being legal. In the US it may be against the Constitution: Freedom of Expression (through photography). In Canada, it is probably against the Charter of Rights for the same reason. The same for some other western countries.

3. You can take photos of models in public places without a permit depending on the nature of the shoot. Permits are for photographic productions that literally take over most of a street, involve multiple staff and technicians, lighting, generators etc. and disturb pedestrians, traffic flow, local businesses, etc.
If you are careful about not attracting a crowd, not staying too long in one particular area and not using equipment that is in the way of pedestrians or cars than you should be able to legally defend the fact that a permit is not necessary.

skieur
 

RRRoland13

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Thank you for sharing! I would like to add though that you can also get the badge numbers of the Officers/Guards off their uniform its usually at their chest or shoulder area..

Except when they illegally remove them, such as during the G20 protest where you live.

skieur

your right but what i mean is in most cases (which should be all the time).. better? :p
 

skieur

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Thank you for sharing! I would like to add though that you can also get the badge numbers of the Officers/Guards off their uniform its usually at their chest or shoulder area..

Except when they illegally remove them, such as during the G20 protest where you live.

skieur

your right but what i mean is in most cases (which should be all the time).. better? :p

Yes. I should add that I think every photographer should learn how to file a police report, and lay a charge whether there is co-operation or not from the police or the prosecutor's office.

Small claims court with minimum cost can still enable a law suit of $5,000 to $25,000 in some areas that include legal expenses.

If your rights have been abused, you can still take action without it costing an arm and a leg, and you should certainly do so, if the details of the incident are not in question and the law is clearly in your favour which is very often the case.


skieur
 
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bryandadams

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I work as a contracted officer for DHS. I've debated some of these very topics with my supervisor and other officers who claim that it is illegal to film or photograph the interior or exterior of the building and that they cannot film or photograph the officers on an exterior post. First off, the building is owned by a private company not the feds. I understand that there are times that those using telephoto lenses photographing a screening process or security cameras is suspicious activity that doesn't mean it is illegal. The officer(s) posted outside are clearly in public view, as are some of our security cameras. Personally I would find it odd that anyone would want a photo of our building, but to each his own.

I do think it's a bit telling that on one occasion my supervisor told me over the radio to tell a couple pedestrians that they couldn't photograph the building. I refused. He threatened to write me up if I didn't. I didn't, and he didn't write me up; and he's the type that would write up his own mother. I'm not one to go off on a power trip, and I won't be forced into it; but many people out there assume much more authority than they really have.

Thanks for the article. Below I have a couple links to related new articles.
Freedom of photography: Police, security often clamp down despite public right
Caught with a camera (washingtonpost.com)
Marc Fisher - Public or Private Space? Line Blurs in Silver Spring
 

bryandadams

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I Feel that I must issue a disclaimer for the first link below. This is not a document that I've disclosed. It was already in public domain. Interestingly enough I've never seen the document, even though it is something that should've been posted at my place of work. I am going to check monday to see if it's been filed and I may have just skipped it.
Photographing Federal Buildings From Public Spaces

The last two links are just another example of the idiocy that can be found between law enforcement and photographers. The first is from DC's Fox 5 news and the last is from the Colbert Report.
LiveLeak.com - Union Station Photo Flap
Nailed 'Em - Amtrak Photographer - The Colbert Report - 2009-02-02 - Video Clip | Comedy Central
 
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x4photo

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I just want to thank the moderator who posted this information. I realize it is a generalization, and ultimately you have to check with your local legal council, but this post was, as it was intended, a good sounding board to start off on and did clarify some things for me, now I can go into a legal office better informed.

I started another post, not finding this post first, looking for information on my rights to photograph people rafting in a public place, on a public river, and sell those pictures, that post has gotten brutal and keeps going off topic on every other logistic of taking photos of rafters and nothing regarding the legal side, and the people in that post cannot seem to understand, that I am not looking for concrete legal advise, but just want to be better informed when I go see a lawyer, and your post helped me figure how to approach the lawyer on how "commercial use" may be interpreted.

Thank You for the "general" info, although being that your a professional photographer, I have a feeling that you cannot disclose that a lot of the info may have come from your lawyer :) because some of what you said may not be applicable in other states.

Thanks Again!
 

skieur

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I just want to thank the moderator who posted this information. I realize it is a generalization, and ultimately you have to check with your local legal council, but this post was, as it was intended, a good sounding board to start off on and did clarify some things for me, now I can go into a legal office better informed.

I started another post, not finding this post first, looking for information on my rights to photograph people rafting in a public place, on a public river, and sell those pictures, that post has gotten brutal and keeps going off topic on every other logistic of taking photos of rafters and nothing regarding the legal side, and the people in that post cannot seem to understand, that I am not looking for concrete legal advise, but just want to be better informed when I go see a lawyer, and your post helped me figure how to approach the lawyer on how "commercial use" may be interpreted.

Thank You for the "general" info, although being that your a professional photographer, I have a feeling that you cannot disclose that a lot of the info may have come from your lawyer :) because some of what you said may not be applicable in other states.

Thanks Again!

I wrote the article. The differences between states are somewhat minor, in that basic rights are covered by the Constitution and photography comes under self-expression and enjoyment of property (photo equipment).

There are bylaws in some municipalities and talk about permits, but if these changes have NOT been tested on appeal, then they are questionably legitimate.

skieur
 

lawrencebrussel

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This is nice post . We’ve just finished our four part series on low light photography. Low light photography is something that we all must deal with as photographers. Whether you’re taking photos with a point and shoot during an evening out, shooting a wedding party or capturing a landscape at dusk it’s important to understand the basics of shooting with low light. Photography is all about light, low light photography is no different and it offers new challenges and opportunities for creativity.
 

photo guy

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A relative of mine was downtown and took some photos from a public location looking in the direction of the governor protesters who are gathering recall petition signatures, one of the protestors hollered to him to not take his photo even though he was gathering the signatures while on the sidewalk. The state has already ruled that if they are in public view and gathering signatures on legal documents like this they have no expectation of privacy and are considered a public official. My relative asked the demonstrator / petition signature collector if he had anything to hide which in turn the person shut up and went back to gathering signatures. Some of these people are public school teachers who are doing this and not doing their jobs by taking a sick day to do it. Just shows how some states are finally catching up with the times.
 

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