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  1. #1
    GRHazelton's Avatar
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    What and where and whom can you legally photograph?

    I don't know where to post this so I'll leave that up to the moderators.

    Ethics and Philosophy might be the best place, given the post below about the woman arrested for videographing a police action from her own yard!

    There has been a lot of discussion here and in other fora about the legal rights of photographers to shoot in public. This link discusses the issues and has some videos of unfortunate photographers being harrassed by police.

    Photography Is Not A Crime

    At the end of the site there are a number of links to other sites dealing with the same topic.

    With the rise in police "activism" and increasing governmental infringements on rights we had thought to be inviolate, knowledge is indeed powerful.

    Be careful out there....

  2. #2
    Dshambli's Avatar
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    From what I understand, anytime someone doesn't have a "reasonable expectation to privacy" they can be photographed (certainly the case with a public official, in a public place, performing public duties).

    The NPPA has a code of ethics that addresses who you should ethically refrain from photographing. http://www.nppa.org/professional_dev...es/ethics.html

  3. #3

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    As more police officers find themselves on you tube and then out of a job you are going to see this more and more.
    "Would you like it if someone that painted in oils told you that you were not making portraits because you were using a camera?"
    "Shouldn't it be more about the joy of producing and viewing the photo than what you paid for the camera?"

    Me

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by bblhed View Post
    As more police officers find themselves on you tube and then out of a job you are going to see this more and more.
    This is an astute point. This stuff has likely always gone on, but now that everyone has a camera right on their smartphone, its becoming more and more exposed. As such, the coppers are becoming more and more nervous of being caught on video - and more and more aggressive towards anyone with a camera, even if the intent is simply art or observation.

    What I'm looking for, but can't seem to find, is a trump card (at least from a legal standpoint) that I can drop on any security guard or cop who tells me I can't photograph here or whatever. Maybe some supreme court case law or something. Any help there?

    Then again, one quick way to piss off a cop is to start dropping case law on him, but too bad. I'm too calm-natured to piss off most of them enough to get a baton over the head.
    ~ Michelle

  5. #5
    Dshambli's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mfratt View Post
    This is an astute point. This stuff has likely always gone on, but now that everyone has a camera right on their smartphone, its becoming more and more exposed. As such, the coppers are becoming more and more nervous of being caught on video - and more and more aggressive towards anyone with a camera, even if the intent is simply art or observation.

    What I'm looking for, but can't seem to find, is a trump card (at least from a legal standpoint) that I can drop on any security guard or cop who tells me I can't photograph here or whatever. Maybe some supreme court case law or something. Any help there?

    Then again, one quick way to piss off a cop is to start dropping case law on him, but too bad. I'm too calm-natured to piss off most of them enough to get a baton over the head.
    That's a tough one, because I've seen too many instances where cops just make up the law. They'll tell you, "It's a felony in Florida to record someone without their permission." That's the jist of the wiretap law here, but the Supreme Court in Katz v. United States said that those sorts of things only apply if one has a “reasonable expectation of privacy” (their words). So you could use those words, and if they say they feel that they have a reasonable expectation to privacy, the real test is whether society would generally accept it. As I've said, a public official performing public duties in public wouldn't generally be regarded as having any expectation of privacy. Because there are bad cops who give good ones a bad name, they will still probably arrest you since they won't suffer any consequences. If it's any consolation though, I haven't seen one case yet where the accused party was convicted. A judge in a Maryland case said, "Those of us who are public officials and are entrusted with the power of the state are ultimately accountable to the public. When we exercise that power in public fora, we should not expect our actions to be shielded from public observation."

    By the way, I'm not a lawyer or anything, so I'm just giving an opinion.

  6. #6
    Christopher Walrath's Avatar
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    Just like American Football. It only draws a flag if you get caught.
    Thank you.
    CWalrath

    "Wubba, wubba, wubba. Bing, bang, bong. Yuck, yuck, yuck and a fiddle-dee-dee." - The Yeti

  7. #7

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    My understanding of the law is that on public property or your own property, or property on which you have consent of the owner, you can photograph anything that you can see with the naked eye. If a person is standing naked in their window and can easily be seen from the street without he aid of binoculars, telescopes, long lenses, etc, then they are able to be photographed and have little say about it. However if they are in their homes, away from the window and are photographed by someone with a long lens, then they have had a reasonable expectation of privacy and such photography is not permissible.

    Now the other issue becomes legal usage of their image. An accredited photo journalist can pretty much use for publication whatever they shoot, unless of course it's the long lens into someone's bedroom thing, however if they are shooting a covert drug deal or some other law breaking act, they probably would be exempt as long as the imagery was in the interest of the public. But even if you photograph someone on the street, photo journalist or not, you can not use that image for commercial purposes without the written consent of the subject.

    It is perfectly legal to photograph the police in action as long as you are not hindering the performance of their duty. And standing on your lawn and photographing a bust is not hindering them as much as the officer might complain. Now in some towns and cities, setting up a tripod and blocking the street may be illegal and require a permit before doing so.

    As for photographing government buildings, you are free to photograph the exterior of ANY government building from a public street or private property with it's owner's consent, so long as the building has not been listed and posted as top secret. And further, ANY building or structure can also be photographed from public property. An example, if someone wants to photograph your house from the street, you have no right to stop them.
    Last edited by Early Riser; 07-01-2011 at 07:28 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  8. #8
    benjiboy's Avatar
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    I think it would be foolish to base any of your actions on legal opinions given by people on internet forums, I suggest you get a good recently published book about photography and the law that applies to the USA.
    Last edited by benjiboy; 07-01-2011 at 07:49 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    Ben

  9. #9
    David Lyga's Avatar
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    POLICE and CAMERAS:

    I recently wrote a long, long letter posted in the 'Ethics' section of apug.org, entitled "Thou Shalt Not Photograph VA Hospitals", regarding my experiences merely LOOKING at a used camera to purchase at the VA Hospital in Philadelphia and can state, unequivocally, that those who claim that it is permissible to photograph in a public place are merely quoting statutory law.

    I say 'merely' because statutory law seems to mean less and less as police are PERMITTED to make up their own laws in defense of their royal egos. Traditionally, police have apprised themselves of the 'loyalty factor' in that they could depend upon other police officers to 'cover' (ie, lie, blatantly) for their actions. NOW, however, police are scared like crazy because of both the new ease to photograph and the probability that the camera just might not provide that easy lie and deception that the police have become used to having delivered to their collective doorstep. Police, like spoiled brats that suddenly wake up to the real world and its self-discipline, are becoming deprived of their easy way out. This realization started with DNA testing about a dozen years ago when both police and DAs fought mightily against its use. They do not like being left out of the 'legislative' process and cannot do anything about it but continually harass people who are NOT in a position to fight back.

    Surely there are police and law enforcement personnel reading this who will take convenient issue with my outlay here. Speak your speak and also remember to cover all the loose ends of your 'take' on this so that those of us who actually think, rather than react, can also be fooled by your false claims. Some of us just might NOT be fooled because we are so used to your 'excuses'. - David Lyga.
    Last edited by David Lyga; 07-01-2011 at 08:26 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  10. #10
    hpulley's Avatar
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    Unfortunately if you argue with a Police officer or security person you risk having things happen. If they're wrong you may be able to get some relief afterward but the damage is already done.

    Getting back to the original question, here I believe it is true that you can photograph anything or anyone from public or your own property with a normal or wide angle lens, telephoto may be seen as a violation of privacy. However, you can only personally use photographs of people and other property taken without permission; for commercial use, a release is required. Artistic use, display in a gallery or so on, usually falls under the personal use category but if you make and sell 500 prints of your art then it is likely commercial use. I am not a lawyer but this seems reasonable to me.
    Harry Pulley - Visit the BLIND PRINT EXCHANGE FORUM

    Happiness is...

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