2 questions more legalistic than ethical

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by wayne naughton, Jun 29, 2007.

  1. wayne naughton

    wayne naughton Member

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    where would i stand exhibiting images taken from the street INTO buildings eg a cafe, pub, barbershop?

    How do i go exhibiting portraits where it is impossible to get a release. what happened was that i was photographing some 'street' kids (with their permission, actually they hassled me to take their pics) one kid had a bit of charisma and i managed to get a couple of nice shots. later on i realised i could get into real trouble if i exhibited the pics without parental permission (he was 15) BUT he had been living on the street since he was 11, didn't have a clue where his parents were and even if he did he never wanted to contact them again, ever. so, what can i do with the pics?

    cheers

    wayne
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 29, 2007
  2. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    i'm not a lawyer, but in everything I've read you can photograph from public property with your lens pointing at private property unless there is an assumption of privacy, e.g. getting on a ladder to photograph over a fence or into a window with closed blinds.
     
  3. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    There are a number of areas of law involved. Plus, you don't say where you are, and laws vary.

    Generally speaking, in the countries that base their legal systems on English common law, you are first involved with trespass. Do you have a right to be where you are when you take a photo? If you are on your own property, or public property, you generally have a right to photograph anything you can see.

    Second aspect involves commercial activity - in other words, advertising. Using an image in advertising or any other form of product endorsement generally brings up all kinds of legal questions and is generally prohibited without permission.

    However, merely exhibiting prints is not advertising, and the general rule is again, if you can see something, you can photograph it and exhibit the print.

    Again, these are very general rules and may vary by country and circumstance.
    juan
     
  4. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    Laws differ from Country to Country, I have worked in Europe, Africa, Asia as well the US and it is very important to keep in mind that what works in one place may be illegal in another. In many European countries taking pictures of bridges or airport is prohibited. In the US taking picutes of public propery can be restricted for national security, but the restiction needs to be posted. Pictures that are news worthy do not require a model release for publication but most newspapers do require the photographer to obtain a release whenever possible. Pictures that were taken as news worthy may be exhibited at a later date without a release but may or may be sold without permission of the subject/s depending on the cirumstances. You do need a model release when the image is used for commercial proposes and monetary gain. It can become very complex, if I take a picture of Paris Hilton like person who is a public figure shooting up in a bar this is new worthy. I can sell that picture to the media for publication, but I cant put it on T shirt without her permission. Arizona passed a state law that prohibits the use the names of service members killed in combat for commerical use without the permission of the next of kin. There is guy in Flagstaff who selling T shirts with the names printed on it. This is commerical use. Listing the names in a newspaper or web site is news and is not prohibited. I think the ACLU is going to court over this law.

    In answer to your question, if you are in the US, you need to ask if the photos are newsworthy.
     
  5. wayne naughton

    wayne naughton Member

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    I live in Melbourne....err Australia. So in essence what you guys are saying, is that if i work for the tabloids i can publish whatever i want to, but if i want to make pictures for gallery exhibition (or even 'street exhibition' for that matter) i'm gonna be hamstrung by all sorts of laws and restrictions?

    wayne
     
  6. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    Wayne -

    That's not the conclusion I would reach from the responses.

    Juan's summary is probably the clearest discussion. On his first point, the fact that you were on public property probably means that you did not violate any laws regarding trespass, regardless of where the subject was.

    Second, you said that your intended use was for display in galleries. While there may be a financial gain associated with that (some would question the reality of that dream), its quite different from selling the image for use in advertising. Therefore, there probably isn't any serious question that you would financially benefit from your 'exploitation' of the subject.

    Where you might have problems is if the gallery were to publish a catalog, they may insist on a model release from each recognizable person in the image. Since it may not be possible to find the subjects to get them to sign a model release (and even if you could find them, there may also be a question of whether they are 'legally competent' to sign such a release). But in that case, the worst case would be that the gallery would simply leave your image out of the catalog.
     
  7. wayne naughton

    wayne naughton Member

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    Don't worry, i'm more than aware that the terms 'penury' and 'photography' are quite synonomous <grin> OK, maybe i'm getting my knickers in a twist, but, gee, i'd really hate to jag a 'decent' pic or two and NOT be able to publish them in what ever medium i can scrounge just because of some legal or bureaucratic technicality....

    wayne
     
  8. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    Dig around on PhotoPermit.

    It doesn't have many discussions or links specific to Australian law, but try a couple like this one.
     
  9. Michael W

    Michael W Member

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    Wayne, you are fine to do the photography you described in Australia. Photographing people in public, no problem. Even on private property the law you'd have to worry about is trespass, ie the property owner can tell you to get off their property, but whether you have a camera or not is irrelevant. This can have some impact on street photography as most city buildings are private property & you might step off the street into their plaza or similar arrangement & not realised you have just moved from public to private property. Anyway it's only an issue if some authority figure comes & asks you to move along.

    Also, no need for a model release unless the photos are being used in some kind of advertising, stock or similar. You can certainly use them for exhibitions, catalogues, books.
     
  10. wayne naughton

    wayne naughton Member

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    excellent link, thanks mr Bjorke. Goldie, i've had one brush with the law when i was poking around the docks. I managed to hold my ground with a couple of private security goons but when a car full of customs officers turned and pointed out that even though i was standing in the middle of (what i thought) a public thoroughfare, i was still in an area controlled by customs and it was illegal to take photos without a permit. it's nice to know that the nations's liquid sugar storage facility is a restricted site and safe from marauding photographers such as myself and other such terrorist types...... wayne
     
  11. Michael W

    Michael W Member

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    Most security people are sitting around bored, with not much happening, so questioning photographers makes them feel like they are doing something productive.
    It can be a good idea to carry a small picture album with examples of your work. I use the cheap, plastic 4x6" $2 albums that you can buy from Big W, Target etc. Put in prints that show the end results of the sort of pics that security types are likely to be questioning you about, eg industrial architecture, people on the street etc. So when they are expressing suspicion at why anyone would want to be in that place taking photos you can bring out the examples of what you make from it. I think that some of these people really don't understand that some of us take photos for personal reasons. They think photography has to be for a specific purpose, ie you are a news photographer, or you're planning to put up a new building or whatever. It's important to try to get through to them that what we are doing is OK.
     
  12. wayne naughton

    wayne naughton Member

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    they kept asking me if i was working for Greenpeace..... didn't realise that Greenpeace had a thing against treacle....... w
     
  13. Michael W

    Michael W Member

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    Treacle is made from melted whales. Didn't you know that?
     
  14. wayne naughton

    wayne naughton Member

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    erk, no i didn't.... that means... no more jam roly poly....<sob>