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Old Aug 11, 2009, 8:22 PM   #1
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Default What defines public space

I have sometimes hestated shooting photos on places like Walmart's parking areas, or of private homes when I am in a public street. Where do I have a right to shoot anything I see? Is it tied into federal rights, and can and do states differ on what is allowed?
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Old Aug 11, 2009, 8:29 PM   #2
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Laws can vary by state and even municipality. In general, if you are on a public street most things are fair game. The government (federal/state/local) has placed some restrictions courtesy of 9/11 fear mongering so I wouldn't go taking photos of nuclear power plants and such . But remember, a parking lot is not usually public property. And don't confuse places which are open to the public (like a shopping mall) with public property.

I have seen a few posts in the last two years discussing more restrictive policies various communities have enacted (most involving children in the photos).

All that being said, I try to respect people's privacy and make sure I don't take a photo that includes another person I can obviously tell the photo would put them in a bad light.
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Old Aug 19, 2009, 9:46 PM   #3
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I'll throw in the Canadian perspective, i actually read up a lot on this lately, but IANAL. This applies to every province and territory in Canada except the province of Quebec:

You can shoot a picture from crown (municipally, provincially, or federally owned) land of anything EXCEPT:

a picture where it would be reasonable for a person to believe they're in private. a washroom, through a window of a house, etc. In short, a picture of someone sitting on their front porch from the sidewalk is legal, but climbing a tree to shoot a picture of them in their back yard is not.
a picture that displays crown secrets (but this is typically called treason as well)

You can shoot a picture on privately owned publicly accessible land (a walmart parking lot, a bookstore, etc) UNLESS

a sign is posted stating that you cannot take pictures
you are asked by the owner or someone representating the owner not to

in the former case, you can be charged (with mischief i believe) for taking a picture.
in the latter case, you can be charged (same charge) if you continue to take pictures BUT you are not obligated to delete pictures you have already taken.

Additionally, you cannot break a law in order to take your picture (break and enter, trespassing, etc)

This covers Common Law.

The second point to consider is Civil Law.

If you took a picture of a person and profited from this picture, the subject MAY have civil grounds to recover some of the profits.

If you take a picture of someone and published it, depending on the circumstance, this individual may have a case for a civil suit for libel, slander, etc.

To answer the other part of the question in the original post, yes, this is tied to federal law. You have the right to property (you cannot be forced to delete pictures that you've taken legally), I'm sure the right to press falls into this too. Unfortunately, I cannot remember any other specific statutes that would apply here, but i know there are.

Hope that helps anyone (any Canadian photog) that might read this.

Last edited by conor; Aug 19, 2009 at 9:52 PM.
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Old Sep 7, 2009, 3:47 PM   #4
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Conor, that is tremendously helpful. I have been looking for something like this for a while. Where did you find it??
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Old Sep 7, 2009, 4:26 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnG View Post
Laws can vary by state and even municipality. In general, if you are on a public street most things are fair game. The government (federal/state/local) has placed some restrictions courtesy of 9/11 fear mongering so I wouldn't go taking photos of nuclear power plants and such . But remember, a parking lot is not usually public property. And don't confuse places which are open to the public (like a shopping mall) with public property.

I have seen a few posts in the last two years discussing more restrictive policies various communities have enacted (most involving children in the photos).

All that being said, I try to respect people's privacy and make sure I don't take a photo that includes another person I can obviously tell the photo would put them in a bad light.
Speaking only about the US, Laws do vary from State to State, Rights do not. Long ago the Supreme Court ruled that photography was protected by the First Amendment. Security concerns after 9/11 has allowed some abridgement of what we can take photographs of, but in general, the misinformation out there is believed by far too many.

I suggest those who wonder about this take a look at an authoratative guide:

http://www.kantor.com/blog/Legal-Rig...tographers.pdf

Another good link, with a handy printable guide to show people can be found here:

http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm


Dave

Last edited by Chato; Sep 7, 2009 at 4:33 PM. Reason: Adding a link
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Old Sep 8, 2009, 10:24 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Mr. Vandertramps View Post
Conor, that is tremendously helpful. I have been looking for something like this for a while. Where did you find it??
I think this is the one.

http://ambientlight.ca/laws.php
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