When you go out in PUBLIC, every action on your part is revealed to everyone who is there to see you. How can your actions in public be private if everyone can see them? How can it be "an invasion of privacy?"
In this sense the law is clear - You CAN photograph anyone you want to at any time, as long as they are in a public place. What about posting or publishing such images?
If you are NOT a public figure you are protected in some ways from seeing your picture in a book, or on the net. If a picture can be demonstrated as "causing harm," the photographer might be subject to legal action. So if someone is photographed falling down drunk outside a bar, and that image is posted or published - That can indeed cause harm. It can be construed as saying that the subject is an alcoholic, a bum, etc, etc. All of which even if true can still be thought of as causing harm.
(All of this refers to US law, I make no claims of knowing what the law is in other countries)
Those who publish books on street photography are well advised to have their photographs examined by a lawyer.
Now in our age, everyone is photographed All The Time by stores, by building owners, by the government. Do people care? Do these photographs in some manner, don't count? And is anyone naive enough to believe that these images can't be posted on the net - But in THIS case totally anoymously, with no recourse of the subject to claim legal damages?
The arguments about abusive husbands and witness protection plans is silly at best; if one chooses to give up an activity because mathamatically there is a statistical chance of harm, there are plenty of things that come before photography to outlaw. Fishing pulls out eyes, hundreds of hunters shoot themselves every year; I need not say how many are killed in car accidents.
The Mob doesn't scan the net looking for victims, and if they did, how would a photograph of a person, tell them where the person was?
There has always been an irrational fear of photography; we are now living in a period where because of terrorism, and child pornography, it has been given a new stimulous. But the irrational should never be the criteria for making decisions. Giving in to the irrational is always a slippery slope, always the argument to restrict rights. It's all well and good to point out that civility is nice, and if someone doesn't want their picture taken, that can certainly ask, and common curtesy would and should be a factor in human relations. So what?
If you don't want to be seen in public, don't go out in public.
Last edited by Chato; Sep 23, 2009 at 3:50 PM.
Reason: adding an addendum