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Kevin Kehler
07-11-2011, 11:22 AM
Not sure the expectation of privacy is relavent when it comes to image making of a nonperson. If it were, then there would not be issues with photographing persons on the street and publishing them. This area of law was not where I practiced and there are differences between the US and Canada. Privacy and IP are exclusive legal issues.

Copyright is a civil, not criminal, matter so the police should never be involved unless they are alleging a criminal act (such as trespass). Asking someone to delete an image (or expose a roll of film) is destruction of evidence and cannot be made to happen without a judge's permission - so you cannot be charged with refusing to destroy evidence or civil disobedience. Further, the copyright holder would be required to show that the photograph violated copyright which would be almost impossible since you are not making a copy of the building, but an image of the building. You are also free to photograph people and publish those images, as long as the images are not for commercial gain and do not present the person in a slanderous or negative manner. Photojournalism, artistic license and editorial usage are well established uses - even if you took a photo of a person and wanted to sell a print, you could. If you wanted to use the image to sell a soda or as an example of licentious behavior, that would be different.

CGW
07-11-2011, 11:23 AM
Did you get permission from the manager of the Flatiron Building? Here in Toronto you can not photograph the one here for any reason without getting permission as it is used in so many movies. Not even for private, nonommercial purposes. I was in the grill one day when someone was taking photos and the manager walked out and politely asked the person to delete the files or turn over the film and he;d process it an send the photos taken that were not of the building plus pay for a replacement roll. The person told the manager to buzz off and within a few minutes an officer approached and suggested the person take the offer or accompany him to the local station. The person handed over the roll and his address and received what looked like a $10 bill. I asked the manager about the incident and he told me the building was copyrighted as an image and taking a photo of it without permission was an criminal offence. I then asked it they would give permission and his response was if for noncommerical use, no problem but othewise there was a fee for a shooting permit. Up here many places seem to have similar requirements including public parks. I was once approached while shooting downtown by a security guard of a building exterior I was photographing. He said that he was to make inquiries of a person if a tripod was used or what appeared to be a professional camera. He was not totally convinced I was not a professional as I had the Meastro tripod (yes, it was my field tripod and has been for some 20 years) as well as my Bronica system and the Polaroid Pack camera, think it was the 180. However, he just said okay when I handed him my business card showing I was a senior employee of a big 4 accounting firm but suggested I lose the tripod in the future.

Funny but I've shot the old Gooderham Building often with all kinds of gear and tripods and never had this issue--ever. City Hall doesn't apparently object, either:

http://wx.toronto.ca/inter/culture/doorsopen.nsf/2ec82a08273530ae85257213004ad518/a2d6288de8344e75852572b100585dc0?OpenDocument

It's a heavily tourist-infested area down there, so much so I doubt there's dedicated manpower sufficient to harrass every gawker with a phonecam or p&s.

Not sure a CA designation is a guaranteed "get-out-of-jail-free" card 8^)

JohnMeadows
07-11-2011, 12:21 PM
Methinks I'll be heading downtown in the next few days to take a few shots of this building , just to see what happens :-)

artonpaper
07-11-2011, 12:44 PM
Somebody argued with you in NYC? That's hard to believe.

Good one, that made me laugh.

But you know I've been shooting in NYC for years and I've had very few problems. One time a guy said I couldn't shoot his store window. I just said too late and walked away. Another time a parking garage attendant said no pictures. I was shooting my own reflection in one of those convex mirrors. I said why not? He said it's against the law. I said no it's not as long as I stay on the sidewalk. He just no pictures. So I said the same thing again, too late.

Alex1994
07-11-2011, 12:58 PM
Surely if you're in a public place you relinquish your right to privacy.

artonpaper
07-11-2011, 01:07 PM
Did you get permission from the manager of the Flatiron Building? Here in Toronto you can not photograph the one here for any reason without getting permission as it is used in so many movies. Not even for private, nonommercial purposes. I was in the grill one day when someone was taking photos and the manager walked out and politely asked the person to delete the files or turn over the film and he;d process it an send the photos taken that were not of the building plus pay for a replacement roll. The person told the manager to buzz off and within a few minutes an officer approached and suggested the person take the offer or accompany him to the local station. The person handed over the roll and his address and received what looked like a $10 bill. I asked the manager about the incident and he told me the building was copyrighted as an image and taking a photo of it without permission was an criminal offence. I then asked it they would give permission and his response was if for noncommerical use, no problem but othewise there was a fee for a shooting permit. Up here many places seem to have similar requirements including public parks. I was once approached while shooting downtown by a security guard of a building exterior I was photographing. He said that he was to make inquiries of a person if a tripod was used or what appeared to be a professional camera. He was not totally convinced I was not a professional as I had the Meastro tripod (yes, it was my field tripod and has been for some 20 years) as well as my Bronica system and the Polaroid Pack camera, think it was the 180. However, he just said okay when I handed him my business card showing I was a senior employee of a big 4 accounting firm but suggested I lose the tripod in the future.

Regarding copyrighted landmark: Reading all the replies and thinking about this further, I wonder what would have happened if the photographer refused to hand over the film. In order to be arrested he would have to have broken the law. After looking at the link to the laws regarding photography in Toronto, I can't see where a law was broken. Here in NYC, there was a recent well known case where a guy was shooting, no tripod, in the subway. A cop told him no photos and he got out a printed copy of the rules about shooting in the subway that showed he was within the law. The cop became upset and arrested him. In the paper, I think it was The Times, it said the guy with the camera, said good, you've just made me a lot of money. There was a law suit for false arrest, and the city settled. The morrow being, arrest without having broken the law is unlawful.

tkamiya
07-11-2011, 01:49 PM
I will just add that regardless of what the law says concerning privacy in public places, there are circumstances and situations where people have personal and private reasons why they don't want their photographs taken. I don't know what prompted OP's supposed subject to ask for removal of the photograph. Some of them are truly sad situations and the fear is real.

But if someone asks me to delete mine, I'll try to honor their requests. No, I will not tell them they should stay home. In these cases, in my mind, their needs superceeds my rights. I don't ask for details either. Using film makes it little more difficult but in digital, removal is easy.

I will not explain why I think this way or what I know, so please don't ask.

Steve Smith
07-11-2011, 02:44 PM
The morrow being, arrest without having broken the law is unlawful.

Technically there is no arrest for something which is not illegal. You can be arrested for something you didn't do but were suspected of doing but not arrested for something which you cannot be arrested for!

When you are arrested you must be told the reason why and if that reason is not valid, it is not an arrest (or it's a wrongful arrest).


Steve.

vpwphoto
07-11-2011, 03:20 PM
Some of them are truly sad situations and the fear is real.


Yes...
I know I will be flamed but there is nothing wrong with NOT being some kind of bad ass photographer and arguing for the sake of it. Personally I think many of you APUGers are just itching for a fight or arrest.

BrianShaw
07-11-2011, 03:23 PM
I will not explain why I think this way or what I know, so please don't ask.

I will not explain why I agree with you and your attitude about honoring people's requests for privacy, so please don't ask. :D

BrianShaw
07-11-2011, 03:28 PM
... I wonder what would have happened if the photographer refused to hand over the film. ...

If I'm not mistaken, which sometimes happens, nothing would have happened. The requestor could not have forced the photographer to turn over film without a court order. Doing so would be theft or "conversion". Theft is a criminal offense and conversion of property is a civil issue.

waynecrider
07-11-2011, 03:30 PM
There are people in this world who do not want to be seen; They are hiding. Funny tho since there are millions of cameras everywhere across the U.S., and if they want to find you they will.

vpwphoto
07-11-2011, 03:36 PM
Technically there is no arrest for something which is not illegal.

Yes... but you can spend a nice evening or weekend in jail, and they can always charge you with disorderly conduct, unless you have just photographed a killing, a police beating, UFO's of Paris Hilton doing something stupid, just smile and move on and enjoy the day.

rthomas
07-11-2011, 04:05 PM
What if Weegee (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weegee) had adhered to this mindset of deleting photos when somebody didn't approve? We would not have his incredible document of New York City in the middle 20th century.

vpwphoto
07-11-2011, 04:22 PM
Weegee was also a paid photojournalist/freelance ie professional photographer... not just a guy with a camera and attitude itching for a silly fight.

BrianShaw
07-11-2011, 04:25 PM
What if Weegee (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weegee) had adhered to this mindset of deleting photos when somebody didn't approve? We would not have his incredible document of New York City in the middle 20th century.

How do you know he didn't. ;)

tkamiya
07-11-2011, 04:34 PM
Ultimately, it will have to be a personal decision of a person holding the camera. The bottom line is, the law says people have no expectation of privacy in public areas. But - think of this... there are people with problems we can't even imagine, let alone think in their shoes. Some are just plain strange. It makes no difference if it's real or percieved - pain they feel is the same - just because someone took their photograph.

In some cases, people live in constant fear of real life threat but they can't stay home because they have to make their living and actually live.

Most of us take photographs for our enjoyment. It doesn't kill me to dump a roll or push the delete button. Street photography isn't something I do, so I rarely encounter these situations. If someone is in the frame and prominently enough, I usually ask first.

I read somewhere, even photo journalists sometimes hesitate and not take the photograph because they feel the pain themselves. Whether that makes a good person or a bad journalist, I don't know.

I think there is a real problem discussing topic of this nature. Other than the OP, we don't know how the conversation really took place. Other than the woman, no one knows why the photograph (which she didn't appear...) was percieved so damaging. Of course all the folks responded don't have any of these information and the discussion becomes concentrated on how our rights were violated. In reality, there were a lot more going on when the event actually transpired.

I consider the "law" the last line of defence, not the first. There are a lot we can do without being illegal. There are a lot of damage we can cause while staying legal. In these situations, I prefer to enjoy my hobby while causing no harm to others - real or perceived. How much margin one wants to keep is really a personal decision.

I said everything I can say here so I'm out of this thread. I don't plan to change anyone's mind. Just wanted to present something some may not be aware - when discussing our rights to photograph in public places.

MattKing
07-11-2011, 08:57 PM
Copyright is a civil, not criminal, matter so the police should never be involved unless they are alleging a criminal act (such as trespass).

Actually, trespass isn't in the Criminal Code either. It is included in provincial legislation

"Prowling at Night" is in the Criminal Code.

All comments here are, of course, referenced to Canadian law.

EDIT: Monito has already posted an excellent link about Canadian law:




You can start here: http://ambientlight.ca/laws/overview/what-can-i-photograph/

Shawn Rahman
07-11-2011, 09:18 PM
I assure everyone here that I: 1) I am not some badass photographer just itchin' for a fight; 2) the woman was NOWHERE NEAR the angle of my lens or in any part of the composition that would lead any reasonable person to believe they would possibly be in the picture; my camera was pointed towards the top of the Flatiron Building, which is at least 25 stories high; and 3) I tried to very politely tell her that she was mistaken about being in the line of fire of my shooting. I only told her that she should stay home when it was VERY clear that she was trying to pick a fight with me and that she had a right to privacy and was sick and tired of photographers trying to take pictures of her.

Upon further reflection after reading some of the responses here, I do believe that she was truly a sad, borderline schizophrenic person who I somehow feel had this conversation numerous times before she had it with me. Especially after she told me she that she was fed up with photographers.

As to people's desire for privacy in public - of course I can respect that. But this, alas, does not equate to a right to privacy. I wasn't trying to take a picture of her. But even if she was in the picture, and not the subject of it, my right to photograph trumps this is NY, especially because I am not using the picture for trade or advertising reasons.

As to the exterior of buildings being protected by copyright in parts of Canada - really? Wow.

mabman
07-11-2011, 09:25 PM
Also note that some places, such as some provinces in Canada (Manitoba and Quebec for sure, there may be others) have "privacy laws" that make it illegal to use someone's indentifiable image for profit, regardless if that image was taken on public property.

For instance, where I am in Manitoba, the Privacy Act (http://web2.gov.mb.ca/laws/statutes/ccsm/p125e.php#) specifically prohibits using someone's likeness "for gain" without consent. To my knowledge this hasn't been tested in court here yet (although the Quebec law was tested in Quebec a few years ago with a woman who was shot as part of a crowd, that shot was hung in a gallery, and the woman didn't appreciate it and won in court). I know a few street photographers here who basically just ignore the law for now.

So, as far as I see it, it is legal to take someone's picture on public property in most places, but it may not be legal to do anything with that picture once you've taken it, depending on the law where you live (and/or where the pic was taken), and if anyone is "identifiable".