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Photographers' Legal Rights

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by cmpalmer, Jun 21, 2005.

  1. cmpalmer


    Jan 27, 2005
    Huntsville, AL
    I've been too busy to keep up with all of the posts on the cafe, so forgive me if this has already been mentioned...

    Also, this is not meant to revive the thread on the rights of papparazzi(sp?) or getting your face smashed in while photographing someone...

    Enough legal disclaimers, on to the legal advice. NPR ran a story about people (professional and amateur) getting hassled for taking pictures at, and of, airports, bridges, power plants, and other public spaces as well as taking pictures of private property from public property. This guy has written an article and a flyer outlining your legal rights to take pictures and what to do if a security guard wanders up and tries to take your camera, film, or memory card:


    Interesting reading and something to both think about and know if the situation comes up.
  2. Ken-L

    Ken-L Guest

    There is a saying in law enforcement, "You can beat the rap, but not the ride."

    It's all well and good to stand up for your rights and in a perfect world one wouldn't have to do that.

    For the average person, being arrested, posting bail, hiring an attorney, spending time in court and then several years getting the record expunged (if found not guilty) is not an attractive course of action.

    Sometimes, discretion IS the better part of valor. It's best to try and not be in that situation, and if somehow you do find yourself there, taking the easy way out may be best. You can know your rights and still be wrong.

    I have heard the following taught to police and it illustrates my point:

    When permission is given for emergencies, and a police car is authorized to use siren and emergency lights, when you come to an intersection you have the right to demand the right-of-way, but you don't have the right to take it. In other words, you can't use your right if it will cause damage or harm.
  3. TR_Fox


    Jun 13, 2005
    Flagstaff AZ
    We do have rights to take photo.

    However in the day and age that we live in it some times is hard to tell what the intent of your actions are.

    I think I will stand by what my mom has always said "it is better to ask permission then to ask for forgiveness"

    I have found that just by being professional and asking you can get what you want. I am sure I would have been put in jail for climbing under a train tressel. However with just one call I was given the OK as long as I didn't sue them if I fell. :wink:
  4. MontyDog


    Jan 30, 2005
    #1064 - You have an error in your SQL syntax;
  5. cmpalmer


    Jan 27, 2005
    Huntsville, AL
    In a thread on Slashdot today, someone posted that he was at a park taking a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset for a photography class when a policeman pulled up with lights flashing and "interviewed" him for a quarter-hour (no arrest) for suspicious activity.

    I know that many people are afraid to take pictures of their kids at the airport because of fears of being hassled.

    I'm not knocking police or security guards (I am good friends with several) but I am aware that sometimes a "Barney" type can overstep their power and, also, that some people might hand over the cameras or media (well, not many of this group -- think of a tourist-type with a cheaper point-and-shoot) to avoid making a scene.

    Like the discussion over paparazzi, I'm not advocating confrontational demonstrations of rights (like standing 1" off someone's property and taking pictures through their windows or going on photo-taking spree of all nuclear power plants in the country), just trying to pass along some possibly useful legal info.

    On a not-really-related topic, has there been a discussion here over Wal-Mart and other photo-finishers refusing to turn over online orders if the pictures look too professional? That's something I haven't had to worry about, but it is an interesting phenomena.
  6. Larry Gleason

    Larry Gleason

    Jan 26, 2005
    I don't recall any discussion here but I believe that it has more to do with professional photograph copyrights being violated. That is, a customer trying to get copies of photos that were taken by a professional.
  7. cmpalmer


    Jan 27, 2005
    Huntsville, AL
    This should probably be a different thread, but I totally understand the copyright issue and the need for pro photographers to address their rights with photo-duplication centers.

    The interesting thing about this issue is that the amateurs with personal photos don't currently have a way to prove that the high-quality shots they have aren't covered by a copyright. One woman with shots of her son that she had done as head shots for a casting call was not allowed to pick up her pictures. The Wal-Mart clerk argued with her for a while, then gave her a copyright release form for the "photographer" to sign. She filled it out and signed it and he wouldn't accept it because she couldn't prove that she took the shots.

    As a pro, would you think that a person signing a release on photos at Wal-Mart would protect you if they were, indeed, making illegal copies of your work and lying about it?
  8. Larry Gleason

    Larry Gleason

    Jan 26, 2005
    I see Wally World trying to protect itself. People are going to make (or attempt) illegal copies and they are going to lie. I really don't think that this is a widespread problem. Even parents taking photos of their youngsters in the nude for just family photos pops up every so often and makes the news. But in the day to day rut most parents and store employees have common sense as to what the photos are for. Besides, the freaks are going to print their own pics at home now.
  9. I hate malls. They are public spaces, but at the same time they are privately owned, and have their own set of rules. Malls in many ways have ruined public space and are tailored to the whims of the corporation.
  10. Larry Gleason

    Larry Gleason

    Jan 26, 2005
    They are a world unto themselves. Even though our local mall has posted rules against photography I've never had a problem getting what I needed. Last year I was doing Chamber of Commerce shots in one of the mall's department stores and a mall security guard came up to check. Not a problem.

    Now the fun biggie. The huge mall at Augusta, GA will not let me in around the Christmas season if I am wearing a Santa hat. Now that is about as stupid as stupid can get. I've never gone there to try it but have read newspaper accounts of the situation. I wear one in local stores all the time during the holidays and have never had an unpleasant experience Lots of ladies passing by smile and say nice things. Never had a door key or thong thingy tossed at me though. Maybe someday. The Santa in me will go ho, ho, ho but not with a Southern accent.
  11. A very interesting thread.

    Thanks Chris and Paul for the links.
  12. cmpalmer - This is an important topic. Thanks for the link. I'll give it a read tomorrow night. <It's always nice to see another slashdot reader.>

    TR_Fox - very good call. Not enough people think of this. And some that do are either afraid of getting a "no" answer or enjoy confrontation.
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