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The Rights of Photographers

This is a discussion on The Rights of Photographers within the Photography references + Resources forums, part of the Education & Technical category; This is just a general thread and laws concerning these matters are in the process of changing in many places. ...

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    Default The Rights of Photographers

    This is just a general thread and laws concerning these matters are in the process of changing in many places. This thread is informational and not meant as legal advice.

    Here are some references that explain your rights as a photographer (some with a pocket sized leaflets to carry around)

    In the USA
    http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm
    http://www.krages.com/ThePhotographersRight.pdf (a downloadable PDF leaflet)

    In Canada
    http://ambientlight.ca/laws.php#You_...ke_photographs
    http://www.tammbrey.com/Wallet%20doc.pdf (a downloadable PDF leaflet)
    http://www.tammbrey.com/legalwalletdocsetc.htm (downloadable model release)

    Please PM me if you have similar additional information from other countries that should be added to this list.
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    Here's a Canadian recap and what to do if confronted form that website...I thought it was pretty good. (Taken from the ambientlight.ca site mentioned above - Thanks casil)

    Recap / Myths dispelled
    - You can not be fined or charged by a private citizen, property owner, or security guard, but they have every right to sue you if they believe you have done damage to them.
    - Nobody can threaten to destroy your camera, lenses, film, other property, nor can they threaten you with physical harm. Nobody can actually destroy your property, forcibly delete photos, expose your film, or harm you.
    - Police can not interfere with your lawful enjoyment of property.
    - Nobody can force you to delete photos. They are your private property, and willful destruction of private property falls under the Criminal Mischief.
    - Nobody can search you, your bags, car, etc. However, being searched may be a condition of entrance to private property or an event.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    What should I do when confronted?

    If you are confronted by a security guard, a private citizen, or a police officer, there will be a conversation. Assuming you have done nothing wrong, most of these conversations will follow similar lines, either: you took a photo of someone or something and they don't appreciate it, or an authority (police officer, security guard, or property owner) believes you are causing trouble, or could cause trouble and wants to assess the situation. Regardless of the situation, there are some things that you can do to help the situation:

    - Smile and be jovial. Doesn't hurt, and eases the mood.
    - If applicable, apologize for not knowing the policy. (See below Trespassing section: Unless there is a sign posted, the property is of a specific type, or you have been told previously, you have not broken any laws. If you are on private property and the land owner or their security guards are telling you not to take photos, or to leave, you must comply)

    Trespassing section
    Trespass to Property Act, 4.(2):
    Where entry on premises is not prohibited under section 3 or by notice that one or more particular activities are permitted under subsection (1), and notice is given that a particular activity is prohibited, that activity and entry for the purpose is prohibited and all other activities and entry for the purpose are not prohibited. R.S.O. 1990, c. T.21, s. 4 (2).
    Stay in a situation which could cause you or your equipment harm. It's assault, but it's assault that you can avoid.
    Criminal Code, 264.1 (1) ("Assault"):
    Every one commits an offence who, in any manner, knowingly utters, conveys or causes any person to receive a threat
    (a) to cause death or bodily harm to any person;
    (b) to burn, destroy or damage real or personal property;


    - Be clear-headed. Use common sense.
    - Understand exactly what authority they have, and what rights you have. If they are owners of the property, they can limit your activities or presence on their property, just by telling you. (See the Trespassing section)
    - Try to figure out why they singled you out. Chances are that they're picking on you because you have a huge SLR, which may be disruptive, and chances are that they leave everyone with point&shoot cameras, or camera phones alone. It is not uncommon for police or security guards to stop and ask you questions to gauge whether you are going to cause trouble.
    - If you are being confronted, there is a problem... solve the problem. If it's something obvious, (Flash photography distracting others, or your photography interfering with the normal operations), then work with them to find a solution. Keep searching, a "no-photography" policy may not be the reason they are confronting you, but rather an easy reason to get you to stop without much trouble. Although you must stop taking photos if they ask you to, you can always talk to them and see if you can be granted an exception.
    - Be specific in your wording. Taking a few more seconds to think up the right word is much better than eating your words later.

    Do not:

    - Make a scene. The worst thing you can do is to call attention to the confrontation, that will force them to take more drastic measures, such as kicking you off the premises. If it's a busy area, take the conversation to a more private area, where there is less pressure to solve the confrontation quickly, and a better possibility of reasoning with them.
    - Apologize for taking the photo. There's no reason you should, you did nothing wrong.
    - Delete the photo. No reason you should. (This can defuse the situation, but implies to the other person that they have that authority over you, and they will expect the next photographer that comes along to delete their photo too.)
    - Be defensive or offensive. Defensiveness implies that you think you have done something wrong and are trying to back out of it, Offensiveness will put them on the defensive, neither will help in reaching a positive solution.
    - Tell them they can't do something (like a private citizen kicking you out of a public park)
    - Blow things out of proportion, embellish, bend the truth or lie.
    - Be hysterical. Even if everyone else has a camera, there is no reason they should apply this rule to everyone else, but there is a reason they're picking on you. Find out why. Property owners (and security guards working for them) can enforce rules on a per-person basis, as they please.
    - Be accusing. There is no reason they should put up a "no photography" sign, this is not their fault. Telling you is just as effective as putting up a sign in the eyes of the law, however, prior to them telling you that photography is not allowed, it was implied that photography was allowed, so legally, you are on solid ground, as long as you don't take a photo after they tell you not to.
    - Answer unnecessary questions or accusations. eg: "Do you go around taking photos of children everywhere?" Answering this will do you no good. Refusing to answer this will do you no good. Change the line of questioning.
    - Say "No". Try proposing alternatives, and steering the conversation into something that benefits you. Saying "No" will make you seem uncooperative and standoffish.
    - Ignore them. Stopping the conversation will not get you anywhere.

    If the situation develops into something more serious: (If you are asked to leave the property, leave, and ask the following information as you are leaving.)

    - Get their full name, and if applicable, employee or badge number.
    - Their manager's or supervisor's name, contact information, and hours
    - Find out as much as possible about why: Is it a policy? What does the policy say? Who created it, why was it created, and when?
    - The time and date
    - From there, follow up and call the manager or property owner, and tell them what happened. If other people were there taking photos with point&shoot cameras, mention it, and say that you feel discriminated against. It is likely that they won't know the exact details about the event, however, most security guards are required to keep notes and file reports, so it can be looked up, if it matters. See if you can come to an understanding with the manager or property owner and arrange permission.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Quotes
    The following individuals have kindly contributed quotes that provide further insight into the laws surrounding photography:

    Superintendent Dave Pickford, Windsor Police Service "I am unaware of any laws that prohibit the taking of pictures of anything that is viewable in a public venue. The only restriction that I would see if a person was to take photographs of the interior of a private dwelling or business while on the public right of way. There is nothing to prohibit the taking of photos of buildings, public transit vehicles or even accidents. Although some people may find it distasteful in having their picture taken in public, I am unaware of anything that would prohibit it. The exception would be of course if someone is physically accosted or obstructed so that a picture can be taken.

    There may be restrictions on persons taking pictures where the public is welcome but the property is private, such as a mall or a sporting complex. Although the public is welcome, there may be restrictions on the taking of pictures.... it is best to check with the administrative staff that owns or controls the property.

    With that said, there is nothing to prohibit a person from taking civil action against a person for taking a picture especially if the picture is subsequently published in a less than favourable light. Whether or not the person succeeds is dependent on the courts.

    Bottom line......... if it is viewable to the public, I see nothing wrong with taking a picture of it."
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    "You have to milk the cow quite a lot, and get plenty of milk to get a little cheese." Henri Cartier-Bresson from The Decisive Moment.

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