Security Ordeal at Shopping Center Taking Photos (longer post)

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by DigitalCameraBasics, Oct 5, 2003.

  1. Yesterday was the grand opening of what they are calling an "open air mall"
    in my area. The "Cousins Properties" contractors are building these in
    Atlanta (called "The Avenues") and soon in other parts of the country. The
    theory is that people are now tired of enclosed malls, so these glorified
    shopping centers are being built. About 40 or so stores in each one, with
    the facades of each business being a bit different, so that it mimics an old
    town main street.

    There has been much hype over this for a time, and being the first day and a
    "grand opening", and also being a shopping center and not an enclosed mall,
    I thought nothing of taking my camera along with me to snap some photos of
    the event and festivities. I was impressed with the way it was built, and
    was going to include an article on it on my local web site I do to promote
    it to potential shoppers.

    So, I walk around for an hour and take photos. On my way back to my car, a
    security guard in an electric buggy stops and tells me it is illegal to take
    photos of anything on this property. I asked why and she said because they
    did not allow it, period. I was done anyway, so proceeded to my car to drop
    off my camera (I was going to shop there next). She followed me to my car,
    and once I dropped off my camera and started walking back to the store area,
    I told her I was going to stop by the management offices to get "official
    ok" for the photos.

    She "insisted" that I not continue, and that I get into her buggy so that
    SHE could drive me to the offices. She did, took me into the offices and
    told the gal behind the main counter she saw.. GASP.. "this man" taking
    photos!! I guess you could say that even though the word "arrest" was not
    used, the fact I was told to be escorted to their offices made it a "mild
    arrest"? I actually had called what I thought were their offices a month
    ealier and whoever I talked to (yep, I forgot to write their name down) told
    me taking pics of the grand opening was ok.. when I told this to the
    security guard she replied, "I doubt that".

    Anyway - I waited a while for the center's manager to show up, and she was
    what I'd call "distantly polite" about it, but told me that no, no one is
    allowed to take photos of anything there at all because as she said, "Many
    of the stores do not like it". She said she'd have someone from their main
    office call me but being Friday PM, I assume it'll be next week before I
    hear from anyone if I ever do.

    For the record, I called four of the stores there after I got home and
    talked with managers, asking them if they hated having photos taken of their
    store for a web page, and all of their replies were, "No way, it's free
    advertising for us!".

    Ok.. now, just how much of a stink should I raise? The manager wasn't that
    bad, but the "arrest" (so to speak), being called a liar by the guard, and
    being hauled into the offices by that deputy doodey reallllllllly got me
    burned. I was actually going to buy a new lens for one of my cameras and
    some CDs at the stores, but after this decided to take my money to another
    area, so they lost a few hundred dollars from me at least that day. Still
    deciding if I want to do an article that instead of promoting the center,
    tells this story instead. Am I going nutty over nothing, or do I have a
    right to get ticked?

    ** Another note ** The guard at one point told me "soliciting" was
    forbidden. I tried to point out to her I was not a salesman nor was I
    dropping off literature for products, etc., but she said that taking photos
    was "soliciting" and I could be arrested for doing it (the tone was "I just
    might do that"). No where on the property was there even a no soliciting
    sign, much less a "photographing this property is prohibited"; my opinion is
    that if a property does not want people to take photos, signs should be
    clearly visible stating so.

    Reasonable comments and thoughts on this accepted.

    DigitalCameraBasics, Oct 5, 2003
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  2. DigitalCameraBasics

    David Guest

    David, Oct 5, 2003
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  3. DigitalCameraBasics

    CSM1 Guest

    Next time write down the persons name, telephone number and title that gives
    permission. Better to get a signed agreement.

    Yes, I agree that you got shabby treatment from the security people. After
    that kind of treatment from the security, I would absolutely take my
    business elsewhere.

    Try to get in contact with the person that you talked with at first that
    gave permission and complain.
    Tell the general manager of the mall to instruct the security people what
    soliciting means.

    Did you get to keep the photos that you took?
    CSM1, Oct 5, 2003
  4. DigitalCameraBasics

    Ray Fischer Guest

    She's actually full of shit. There is no criminal law that makes it
    illegal to take photos in a public place.
    That doens't make it illegal. All it means is that they can refuse to
    let you onto their property with a camera.
    If I'd been feeling cranky I might have said soemthing rude and
    False arrest would have earned them a nice lawsuit. In fact a
    security guard has no more power to arrest anybody than do you.
    Furthermore, taling pictures is not a crime and so not even a sworn
    officer could arrest you.

    I'd be a lot more than ticked.
    Security guards typically work minimum wage and have no legal
    authority. They are not police officers.
    Ooooo! That definitely would have pushed me over the edge. Tell her
    to go ahead and try it since you could use a hundred grand for false
    Ray Fischer, Oct 5, 2003
  5. DigitalCameraBasics

    PTRAVEL Guest

    Malls aren't public places -- they're private property. A few states,
    notably California, treat private malls as quasi-public forums for the
    purposes of engaging in political speech. However, the First Amendment is
    implicated by taking pictures.

    Access to private property is by license. Violating the terms of the
    license constitutes trespass. Trespass is illegal.
    See above.
    Also not true. Most states permit merchants and their agents to "reasonably
    detain" someone for whom they have a reasonable belief has violated the law
    (and, as I've already explained, trespass is a violation of law). If the
    detention was improper, however, there would be grounds for a law suit for
    false imprisonment (not false arrest).
    It is if you've been told not to and you're on private property.
    Under the circumstances, I would have been, too. When this kind of garbage
    happens, I pull out my business card -- amazing how quickly these petty
    martinet types back down when someone who knows the law explains it to them.
    See above. In most states they have the power to detain. And, of course,
    anyone can make a citizen's arrest anywhere.
    That's about what I would have said as well. Taking pictures is not
    PTRAVEL, Oct 5, 2003
  6. DigitalCameraBasics

    W6DKN Guest

    DigitalCameraBasics wrote:
    Was her "insistence" purely verbal? Did you voluntarily comply with her
    request, or were you physically prevented the free movement of your person
    by this guard ?
    You were not arrested, or even detained, under any circumstances unless you
    were actually prevented from leaving the area or moving about at your own


    Again, unless you were physically prevented from leaving or moving about at
    will, you were not arrested, or even physically detained against your
    will - you were asked to ride to the security office in the officer's cart
    and you voluntarily complied with the request.

    = Dan =
    W6DKN, Oct 5, 2003
  7. DigitalCameraBasics

    Ron Hunter Guest

    The security guard was a serious idiot. What they attempted to do was
    borderline illegal. I suggest you write a letter to the editor of you
    local newspaper detailing your experience. I also suggest you shop
    elsewhere, and tell all your friends to consider your experience and
    decide if they want to patronize such a place.

    Since you intended to PUBLISH (posting on a website IS publication) your
    pictured, their interference violates the Freedom of the Press clause
    (assuming you are in the US), and similar freedoms guaranteed by other
    countries. What a stupid management.
    Ron Hunter, Oct 5, 2003
  8. DigitalCameraBasics

    Paul Heslop Guest

    I would go to the press at least. you're being treat like a criminal for no
    reason other than some 'Jobsworth' wants to feel big.
    Paul Heslop, Oct 5, 2003
  9. We live in such a big beautiful country. There's so much to capture on film
    and digital that doesn't entail entanglements with others. Get a life.
    Short, sweet, and reasonable.
    mark_digital©, Oct 5, 2003
  10. DigitalCameraBasics

    Paul Heslop Guest

    He has got a life, which involved taking some pictures in a setting which
    should have been okay. How would 'getting a life' alter the way things
    Paul Heslop, Oct 5, 2003
  11. DigitalCameraBasics

    David Ellis Guest

    As others have pointed out, taking photos in a public place is not
    illegal and you were not arrested. The experience would have had me
    wondering if the woman worked for John Ashcroft. :=)

    You might get some satisfaction by adding security-personnel names to
    your description. Go back and get 'em. Then snail-mail the
    description, as an attachment, to all the store owners (better than
    managers). Specifically address the owners by name. Who they are is
    public record.

    OTOH, you might save your gut some churning by just walking away from
    the episode. Some people thrive on this kind of warfare; others have
    sleepless nights.

    David Ellis, Oct 5, 2003
  12. DigitalCameraBasics

    Guest Guest

    Archived from "DigitalCameraBasics" <>
    on Sun, 05 Oct 2003 03:08:30 GMT:

    [shopping center incident description]
    You have a right to go nutty and/or get ticked if you so desire. But why,
    for what purpose and to what end? It is a fait accompli. The opportunity
    cost of this event was only your time, in essence no harm, no foul. Learn
    from the experience and move on.

    Guest, Oct 5, 2003
  13. On 05 Oct 2003, DigitalCameraBasics wrote

    -snip explanation-

    The very least that I'd do would be to publish the incident on the
    "local highlights" website you mentioned, detailing the attitudes of
    the security people *and* the manager than came into it, and advising
    any visitors to the web-page that they should steer away from this mall
    since its management appears to be ready to take questionably legal
    actions to enforce a bunch of very petty regulations.

    Name names, where you've got them -- be careful not to libel anybody,
    but state facts: "this is what [name of person] told me", and "this is
    what [name] said they would do".

    Notify your local paper that there's a heap of bad publicity for the
    mall and its management at your site -- that's sort of thing is usually
    good fodder for a local paper.

    My two cents, anyway....
    Harvey Van Sickle, Oct 5, 2003
  14. DigitalCameraBasics

    Glenn Shaw Guest

    PTRAVEL wrote in
    Quite true. IIRC, one of the Simon Property malls, Lafayette Square Mall
    on Indy's west side, has a sign posted inside the main entrance
    explicitly stating that photography of the mall property is strictly
    prohibited without prior approval from mall management. (I assume that
    there are similar notices posted in their other malls, though I don't
    recall seeing one in any of their other Indy malls.)

    Which brings up a question: what about taking pictures of the mall from
    *outside* the mall property -- say from a public sidewalk? (It could be
    argued that the mall's parking lot is part of the mall proper.) Since
    the photography is being done from *public* property, mall management
    would have no say in the matter, right?
    Funny... except for the aforementioned sign, I didn't see a TOS posted.

    Not unless one were offering portrait services and taking portraits on
    the spot. The act of taking pictures of the property, in and of itself,
    is not soliciting, IMHO. (IANAL.)
    Glenn Shaw, Oct 5, 2003
  15. DigitalCameraBasics

    PTRAVEL Guest

    Generally, anything that's in public is fair game, including buildings
    viewable from public thoroughfares. There are, however, some copyright
    concerns (to the extent there is protectable expression on the building)
    and, if you use the photographs commercially, there may also be trademark

    Usually, there will be some small, obscure sign which says something like,
    "Access to this property by revocable license." The concern there is
    generally one of avoiding proscriptive easements, but the license can be
    used to exclude people and activities. The appropriate way for the mall to
    have handled things would have been to tell you that photography wasn't
    permitted and then, if you persisted, treat you as a trespasser. Detaining
    you for violating the "secret code of the mall" was inappropriate, to say
    the least.
    I am, and you're right -- taking pictures isn't soliciting. Asking for
    something, usually money, is soliciting.
    PTRAVEL, Oct 5, 2003
  16. DigitalCameraBasics

    Mxsmanic Guest

    If photography is prohibited and this is posted, then you are not
    allowed to take pictures, on private property.
    Mxsmanic, Oct 5, 2003
  17. DigitalCameraBasics

    Mxsmanic Guest

    Well, the mall can prohibit photography if it wishes to do so.

    If mall employees (including security guards) threatened you or detained
    you, you may be able to file a civil or criminal complaint. The same is
    true if they touched or confiscated your camera or film. In fact, the
    same is true if they touched you personally, depending on the
    So the guard slandered you in front of witnesses? Hmm.
    Write to the stores in question and tell them this. I'm sure they'll be
    _real_ happy about it.
    It's important to protect your rights, especially in this day and age.
    While the mall is within its rights to prohibit photography, their
    handling of the situation was highly inappropriate, thanks to the
    incompetence of their staff. IMO.
    So what? You weren't soliciting.
    She's wrong. You should have asked her to call the police. They would
    have explained it to her more persuasively than you could.
    I agree. If no sign is visible, in general you can take photos. But if
    somebody representing the owner asks you to stop, you must stop. Under
    no circumstances may the owner or his agents confiscate any of your
    property. Nor may they detain you, unless you willfully trespass or
    something like that (by continuing to take pictures after being told not

    I am not a lawyer; this is not intended as legal advice.
    Mxsmanic, Oct 5, 2003
  18. DigitalCameraBasics

    Mxsmanic Guest

    Not so. The security guard will continue to make the same mistakes if
    he or she is not corrected, and others may suffer or be denied their
    rights or may even be victims of crime as a result. Therefore it is not
    unreasonable to take action to prevent this from happening in the
    Mxsmanic, Oct 5, 2003
  19. DigitalCameraBasics

    Ron Hunter Guest

    But if it is NOT posted, then they should POLITELY request that you not
    take pictures as other shoppers may be made uncomfortable by having
    their picture snapped as they enter Victoria's Secret, or Frederick's.
    Ron Hunter, Oct 5, 2003
  20. A Shopping mall is NOT a public place, it is private property. The Criminal
    Law would be trespassing. You can't come onto my private property and snap
    away, if you do I can have you arrested and charged with trespassing.
    Darrell Larose, Oct 5, 2003
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