I saw a pretty ugly crash scene a few days ago in front of my building. A truck had ploughed into the front of a flat across the road, and there was a lot of police and emergency crew milling about. Thankfully no one was hurt, but when my boyfriend asked for my camera to take a photo, I hesitated. Would we get in trouble for taking a photo?
(The photo we took)
This is probably a dilemma that many people face now that cameras are so ubiquitous. Are you allowed to take a photo of that interesting-looking chap at the park, or is it an invasion of privacy? Can you photograph the new donut place at the mall to show your kids, or will a security guard request to confiscate your camera/phone? And are you legally obliged to hand over your camera if someone states you’ve taken photos unlawfully?
If you’re based in the US, Photojojo’s 10 legal commandments of photography will clue you in as to what your rights are.* The law will vary in other countries, but I suspect the rules will be similar if your legal system is based on common law.
Anyone in a public place can take pictures of anything they want. Public places include parks, sidewalks, malls, etc. Malls? Yeah. Even though it’s technically private property, being open to the public makes it public space.
Even more interesting:
If you are on public property, you can take pictures of private property. If a building, for example, is visible from the sidewalk, it’s fair game.
The article is definitely worth reading if you don’t want to get yourself in strife with the ‘long arm of the law’, and helpfully states that even police need a court order to confiscate your camera and/or film.
I’m interested: has anyone ever had a camera confiscated? (Aside from when you’re on private property and there are signs posted that request you don’t take pictures, or when you’re in a sensitive government building?)
*Disclaimer: This post does not constitute legal advice.