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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk
Thread started 20 Oct 2008 (Monday) 12:37
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Photographers Rights on Public Property

 
digirebelva
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Oct 20, 2008 12:37 |  #1

I have a question that I hope someone on here can answer. Last week I was downtown taking shots on my lunch break. As I was walking by one office building I stopped to get a cool refelction shot on the building. A security guard stopped me and said no pictures. I said "are you sure about that" (now understand at the time I was on a public sidewalk) so we went in to talk to his manager. His manager told me that no pictures are allowed of the building or the signage". The picture wasnt worth getting into a pissing match over so I simply smiled and said "okay" and left.
Now I know i was in the right seeing as I was on public property since a buildings property line downtown is behind the sidewalk, but I cant prove it so thats why I didnt argue. Does anybody know where you can find a federal or even a state law that covers the rights. I have tried googling but havent come up with anything concrete other than discussions about the subject or some articles written about, but not one direct link to a code in the law that covers it.
And dont mention the "photographers bill of rights" that's no better than heresay. I want something to hand the guy that has actual weight (i.e. law)and let their lawyers determine that they cant restrict activities on public property.
So has anybody ever found the elusive point of law that you can point someone to?
Thanks for any help....


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doctorgonzo
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Oct 20, 2008 12:45 |  #2

You'd probably have to contact a lawyer in your area to get a specific law or case history; however, I recently bought and read the Photographer's Legal Guide, and in general, you can take pictures of anything that is visible from public property, i.e. a sidewalk.

Some buildings, however, have copyright protections so you wouldn't necessarily be able to sell such a photo for whatever you want; perhaps that's what the overzealous security guard had in mind.


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Wilt
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Oct 20, 2008 13:12 |  #3

Odd times, after Sept 11 !

In the times before 9/11, what doctorgonzo says is very true...if you are on public property, what your eye and camera can see are fair game for a personal photograph (e.g. 'how I spent my summer vacation' photo for family and friends). But you had to obtain a property release for any commercial usage of that shot (sell rights to your photo, or to promote your photography business as a window display or web site photo). After Sept 11, the world has gotten paranoid about terrorists, and certain structures are more openly 'protected' from photographers, like bridges, police stations, landmarks, power stations and water pumping stations. So while it may not be technically 'illegal' to photograph, it is often being 'protected' actively. (Politely thank the nice man, go across the street into the crowd and take the photo unseen! Better than direct confrontation, spouting your rights like an active member of the ACLU)


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Pete
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Oct 20, 2008 13:13 |  #4

Read here...
-=PROPERTY RELEASES=-external link


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Wilt
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Oct 20, 2008 13:19 |  #5

Key point in that ASMP article...they recommend you get a property release, in spite of the lack of statutes that make it a requirement, and in spite of the lack of case law precedents on the matter, simply because

"ASMP advises that property releases be acquired whenever possible because we don’t want to see you be the test case."


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photoguy6405
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Oct 20, 2008 13:51 |  #6

On the one hand it makes sense to go the less confrontational route and leave and/or take it from another vantage point.

On the other hand, where does it stop? How much should we just give away simply based on other's paranoia and ignorance of actual law? Seems to me that if we keep rolling over it'll only get worse.

I suppose the question is, how much time and effort are you willing to take to 'educate' people like the security guard and manager in question? Personally, I would have gotten the manager's business card and possibly followed up with some research and maybe a visit to the local police department to get an idea what they would do in an extreme scenario. That doesn't necessarily mean I'd purposely be a jerk to assert my rights, of course.


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digirebelva
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Oct 20, 2008 14:10 |  #7

Wilt wrote in post #6529109 (external link)
Key point in that ASMP article...they recommend you get a property release, in spite of the lack of statutes that make it a requirement, and in spite of the lack of case law precedents on the matter, simply because

"ASMP advises that property releases be acquired whenever possible because we don’t want to see you be the test case."

Well here is my thing, does google or Microsoft get a property release when they do their 3d maps, I mean they are gettting pretty dang detailed, even having the trademarked names on them...(microsoft virtual earth)

I appreciate the link, its just not what I am looking for. Looks like I will have to contact the states attorneys office and ask them...it seems to be a very ellusve item to track down...

Thanks

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Wilt
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Oct 20, 2008 14:23 |  #8

You may have found a potentially lucrative opportunity for the building owners against Microsoft and Google, and for a newly minted attorney to represent the building owners against Microsoft and Google and make a big name for him/herself!

Just kidding...it would be hard to show evidence of increase of revenues for Google or Microsoft due specifically to the one photo shown, when there are thousands of photos of a similar nature all equally non-specific in revenue generation for Google or Microsoft . And the quality sucks...you can't make out the female exective and her male administrative assistant going at it on her desktop, on the 15th floor!


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Jpatten
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Oct 20, 2008 14:25 |  #9

Well Microsoft said, let us use your name or all of your PC's will mysteriously BSOD. :)


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digirebelva
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Oct 20, 2008 19:35 |  #10

photoguy6405 wrote in post #6529321external link
I suppose the question is, how much time and effort are you willing to take to 'educate' people like the security guard and manager in question? Personally, I would have gotten the manager's business card and possibly followed up with some research and maybe a visit to the local police department to get an idea what they would do in an extreme scenario.

Thats part of the reason for the request, to be able to go back to them and hand them the section of the law and politely tell them that they may want to educate themselves before another situation such as mine arises. Had it been a once in a lifetime shot I may have pushed the issue, but as it was it wasnt worth the effort...but it does bug the crap out of me..becuase I know it probably wont be last time it happens. As where I work is only a few blocks from downtown and I can get out and get some fresh air, exercise and snap a few...


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