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  1. #1
    Chriscc123's Avatar
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    Overview of Photographic Law in the US

    I was reading a post about camera equipment getting confiscated in spain (i think) and someone commented that the US is one of the worst places for photo law. My question is, is there a good guide of sorts for photographers in the US? Laws pertaining to public, privet and governmental property and etc. I know law varies from state to state but a good overview would still be good.

  2. #2
    rthomas's Avatar
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    Here's a good starting point. I've never had a run-in with the police. But I have had a couple concerned citizens or security guards confront me from time to time (unjustifiably in all cases). I do keep a copy of The Photographer's Rights in my bag when I'm out.

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    Overview of Photographic Law in the US

    AFAIK, the UK is about the worst these days.
    Stop worrying about grain, resolution, sharpness, and everything else that doesn't have a damn thing to do with substance.

    http://www.flickr.com/kediwah

  4. #4
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clayne View Post
    AFAIK, the UK is about the worst these days.
    Nonesense. Neither the US or the UK has actual laws preventing photography and allowing for confiscation of equipment. What both countries have is over-zealous or ignorant police officers who make up their own laws.


    Steve.

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    clayne's Avatar
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    Overview of Photographic Law in the US

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Smith

    Nonesense. Neither the US or the UK has actual laws preventing photography and allowing for confiscation of equipment. What both countries have is over-zealous or ignorant police officers who make up their own laws.


    Steve.
    There are most definitely laws regulating the use of photography on private property and around govt property. Additionally the use of Terror and associated laws by UK police as a means of limiting photography has been countlessly documented over the past decade.
    Stop worrying about grain, resolution, sharpness, and everything else that doesn't have a damn thing to do with substance.

    http://www.flickr.com/kediwah

  6. #6
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clayne View Post
    There are most definitely laws regulating the use of photography on private property and around govt property.
    True but I was talking about photography in public places. On private property they are just the rules of the property owner, not laws.

    Quote Originally Posted by clayne View Post
    Additionally the use of Terror and associated laws by UK police as a means of limiting photography has been countlessly documented over the past decade.
    That is also true but these are a mis-use of the law by the police, not a legitimate use.

    There have been a few cases (not countless cases) of these mis-uses of the law both in the UK and in the US but in all cases which I can remember they have always resulted in the police issuing an apology.

    Also these are just a few cases compared to the thousands or millions of times someone takes a picture in public without any issues. Obvioulsy these non-events are not reported.

    There is too much paranoa with this. People just need to go out and take pictures without worrying about it too much as the chances of harrassment are just about negligible.


    Steve.
    Last edited by Steve Smith; 06-01-2010 at 05:45 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  7. #7
    MikeSeb's Avatar
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    Exactly right Steve! Private property is just that; the owner makes the rules, as it should be. Otherwise, know your rights and assert them politely, but as firmly as the situation warrants.

    I've had far more trouble from overzealous ninnies among the general public than from the police. The public generally believes they have a right to deny themselves, their kids, or their property being photographed IN public view (they don't); while you have a fair chance that the police actually know the law.
    Michael Sebastian
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  8. #8
    rthomas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeSeb View Post
    I've had far more trouble from overzealous ninnies among the general public than from the police.
    "Overzealous ninnies." I like that phrase, can I borrow it?

    The one time I was potentially in "a lot of trouble" (her words) was when an overzealous ninny and I were both on the beach. I was photographing the sunrise and she was walking. After a bit I headed back to the inn where I was staying, and as I was approaching the entrance I saw a flower lit up by the morning light. So I took a picture. Next thing I know my new friend is running up telling me she saw me photograph through the bathroom window and she is calling the cops... since this was a d*****l camera I showed her the picture I had taken and told her she was paranoid, but that if she felt like calling the cops and telling them that there was a photographer on the loose, she was welcome to do so. I'm not sure how this would have gone down if I had been shooting film. The blinds of the window were closed, just for the record.

  9. #9
    tac
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    I used to do a lot of night photography around town. The local police followed me around, but stayed a respectful 100 feet away- I realized soon that they were protecting me, not harassing. This was pre- 9/11, of course. But what do you say to some idiot LF photographing parking lots at 3 in the morning? The work garnered a lot of compliments, though!
    Oh, and I am a lawyer.

  10. #10
    MattKing's Avatar
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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I would assume that any laws in the USA that might apply to photography would vary by state.
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

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