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Taking Photographs And The Law
Basic Legal Freedoms And Restrictions for Photographers

Apr 10, 2008 Philip Northeast
Posing for the camera in public - Phil Northeast
Posing for the camera in public - Phil Northeast
Freedoms are under attack in democracies, particularly the right of freedom of expression by using images. Conversely, many people are infringing the rights of others.

This is a general overview of some of the legal issues involved in modern democratic societies. There are differences between legal jurisdictions so you should seek qualified legal advice for specific problems and issues. Local laws and interpretations may differ from the basic principles outlined here please seek competent local advice.

Anything or anyone in public view from public place is fair game for photographers. There are no absolute laws of privacy restricting the photographers from recording anything or anyone in clear public view. This goes to the heart of democratic principles where freedom of expression is often guaranteed, either explicitly, or implied in the constitutions of democratic countries.

One practical restriction on photographing in public places is disruption to other members of the public. For this reason, some cities restrict the use of tripods and other bulky photographic equipment likely to obstruct pedestrian traffic
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Model Releases

Model releases, property releases, or any other forms of permission are not required to photograph subjects in public view. If people choose to display themselves or their property to the public then they have given up some notion of privacy. This applies to public views of private property. Children are not legally competent to make these decisions, so sometimes it is better to ask a parent first before taking any photographs.

As in any modern democracy, the rights of others temper these basic rights. There are a number of legal and moral restrictions on any unreasonable or invasive photography. A judge in the law courts usually makes the final decision on what is unreasonable. If people do not want their photo taken, do not persist and respect attempts to create areas of privacy.
Private Property

On private property, you have no right to photograph. The owner is entitled to ask photographers to stop taking pictures and ask them to leave their property. However, the owner does not have the right to attack you or your property to destroy the equipment or any images you may have taken. It is legal to take pictures of private property from a public viewing point.
Read on

* Using Photographs And The Law
* What is Freedom of Speech?
* Biggest Ever Copyright Infringement?

Often there is confusion when holding public events on private property. It is still private property and the rights of the owner to prohibit photography on the property remain. This also applies to shopping malls marketed as public spaces. While they may mimic the old main street in a town center, they are still private property.
National Security

This is a favorite excuse trotted out by regimes eager to restrict the free exchange of ideas among their citizens. With advances in digital technology, compact phones or cameras are capable of gathering images for any illegal activities without raising attention. Harassing and demonizing people openly taking photographs in public only serves to create an atmosphere of fear and oppression.

While there are few restrictions on taking photographs and viewing them as part of a private collection there are many on their public use.

This site has U.S. specific legal opinions on photography, as well as links to United Kingdom and Australian sites. Also, here is an article on using photographs and the law

Here is another good US site photo attorney that specializes in photographers rights

Read more at Suite101: Taking Photographs And The Law: Basic Legal Freedoms And Restrictions for Photographers http://photography.suite101.com/article.cfm/taking_photographs_and_the_law#ixzz0vI2Ihe7n
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