What am I free to Photograph?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by John, Jun 10, 2004.

  1. John

    John Guest

    Am I free to shoot anything that is outside my home if I am shooting from
    my window? Do I have to get permission to photograph certain things and
    people if they are on the street in front of my home or even on my lawn?
    What about construction workers or police or mailmen and such? What about
    the use of any photos I am able to take? Can I post them on my site to be
    viewed by all? If police are raiding a party next door can I shoot whatever
    I see? Can I go outside and shoot at will? A few days ago I shot with still
    and video a reporter from local TV news station doing several takes of a
    reporting of a crime that occurred in the home across the street. I also
    shot him doing an interview of a woman while on my front lawn. I have almost
    the same as he does but from a different angle right from my bedroom window.
    While I do not intend on selling anything or infringing on any rights I just
    would like to know where I stand from a legal and moral view.

    John, Jun 10, 2004
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  2. John

    JedMeister Guest

    what country are you from?
    JedMeister, Jun 10, 2004
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  3. John

    gsum Guest

    If you live in the UK, you can shoot whatever you want from your
    own property or from public property except for military installations
    or crime scenes. You can also photograph people but it might be
    best to ask their permission.
    In most private buildings used as public places (e.g. shopping centres)
    these rules also apply.

    If you live in the 'land of the free' watchit.


    that you are invading their privacy, you are photographing mil
    gsum, Jun 10, 2004
  4. John

    DiVenZ Guest

    It's no problem to take a picture. It's publishing that can bring you to
    Read about copyright.
    DiVenZ, Jun 10, 2004
  5. The legal question depends on where you are. You did not tell us. For
    the right answer, I suggest seeking legal advice from you local legal

    In most places you can legally photograph almost anything from your own
    or public property. You often loses this right if you are on private
    property. Most authorities will not allow you to compromise an individuals
    right to privacy; so no photos of a private moment taken from the walk
    through someone's bedroom window. Some religious and military locations are
    also off limits.

    Morally, it is a matter of what the owner of the property or the
    individual being photographed accepts.

    Of course after you take the photo, you may want to do something with
    it. That has a whole different set of rules and often it is more
    restrictive. Generally you can't use a photo commercially if anyone who is
    identifiable in the photo objects.
    Joseph Meehan, Jun 10, 2004
  6. John

    Ron G Guest

    If in the USA, or coming to the USA, be careful because there is a
    growing movement to restrict photography of all kinds for 'security'
    reasons. This includes any photography of the property of New Jersey
    Transit, including its trains, buses, etc. from anywhere, including your
    own property. The Chicken Little syndrome is in full sway (tis an
    election year) in the Land of the Free and Home of Brave. Oh, and you
    can be pretty sure that you will not spot a 'no photography' sign
    Ron G, Jun 10, 2004
  7. John

    Jimmy G Guest

    From what I've read/heard, you may photograph anybody and publish that
    photograph if the person was in a place where they did not have a
    "Reasonable expectation of privacy." As such, public places are fair game,
    however a dressing room at the department store would not be, as an
    individual would have an expectation of privacy while in such a place.
    Jimmy G, Jun 10, 2004
  8. John

    Lourens Smak Guest

    copyrights are almost totally irrelevant to the question of what you can
    photograph and what not. (only when photographing artworks and so on,
    this becomes an issue)

    Lourens Smak, Jun 10, 2004
  9. John

    Frank ess Guest

    If you do not intend on selling anything or infringing on any rights,
    why is where you stand an issue?

    The "reasonable expectation of privacy" doctrine is a good general rule
    in the US of A, but like many rules in a litigious society, may
    eventually be decided on a case-by-case basis. Public figures (movie
    stars, TV personalities, politicians, et cet.) may have a defensible
    interest in uses of their image.

    There must be potential for considerable gain to warrant the risk of a
    contrary decision in any case with "new" elements. Consult a specialist
    attorney, if you are worried enough. Otherwise, you have a nice cocktail
    party story.

    Frank ess
    Frank ess, Jun 10, 2004
  10. John

    RustY © Guest

    Not so. You may photograph any military installations that you wish -
    though the secret ones have a rather large fence around and often you can't
    get near enough. Same with crime scenes, they have to erect a tent or
    screens or Joe public can shoot at will. In the UK you can photograph just
    about anything or anyone if they are in a public place or on show from a
    public place.
    RustY ©, Jun 10, 2004
  11. John

    eawckyegcy Guest

    I am reminded of a cartoon: huge supertanker in the background is
    bearing down on a tiny sailboat in the foreground. One person on boat
    is pointing to the incoming tanker, another is saying "but the smaller
    boat has the right of way!" (Or something like that.)

    If you are stupid enough to actually solicit the blatherings of random
    strangers on USENET as a guideline for action in this area, then you
    deserve what is coming your way.
    eawckyegcy, Jun 10, 2004
  12. Generally, you can photograph just about anything you can see in a
    public place without penalty.
    That is an entirely different question. If you damage someone, they can
    sue you. Take a look at a standard model release sometime.
    Larry Caldwell, Jun 10, 2004
  13. John

    Ed E. Guest

    Not entirely correct. In the US, many events are considered copyrighted.
    Just ask Clear Channel's lawyers.
    Ed E., Jun 10, 2004
  14. John

    John Guest

    Thank you for all your replies. I am in the US and am just a guy with a
    camera taking photos and video from outside my window. I took a video of a
    reporter making a news broadcast video and that is it. This was already seen
    on local station. I would like to post it on my site for the purpose of
    display to friends and anyone that would be interested in viewing this
    including the rest of the neighborhood who might be amused. Like Frank ess
    stated it would be an interesting party event. I am not interested in
    researching a multitude if legal documents but I do respect the views of
    posters on this site who are much more informed in such matters.

    Thanks to all.

    John, Jun 10, 2004
  15. Interesting.

    May I ask another question?

    One day I was in London visiting the Tate Modern and like many others I was
    attempting to get a good shot of the weather experiment (you know, that half
    Sun reflected on the ceiling).

    I was very unimpressed when I have been asked to put my tripod away by a
    member of staff who, upon my request (I did not believe that such a rule
    existed), supplied me with a leaflet stating that the tripod could not be

    Could I have protested and used the tripod anyway?

    Thank you.
    Motorcyclesaur, Jun 10, 2004
  16. LOL, what an exciting neighbourhood you must live in. If I was to set up a video camera
    filming from my bedroom window for an hour I'd get perhaps three cars, and, if I'm very
    lucky, just maybe, a cat..T.
    Tony Gartshore, Jun 10, 2004
  17. John

    Irwell Guest

    Many shopping malls do not allow taking photo
    on the premises. Same with Casinos.
    Irwell, Jun 10, 2004
  18. John

    Kenny Guest

    No, this is a safety and security issue, nothing to do with what you can
    or can't photograph. Limits on tripod use in public places is quite

    Kenny, Jun 10, 2004
  19. John

    John Guest

    Well. I hesitate to tell you what the guy across the street was arrested for
    but if you ask everyone who knows of it, just about everyone in the state,
    they would say that he should be locked up for the rest of his life. This is
    without any trial as he was already found guilty and tried in the press. The
    well known reporter saw me in at the door when he was about to take off in
    his SUV when he dismounted an approached me to inform me of what exactly
    were the facts. Said it was already in the Trib and I should read all about
    it. Channel 7 news at 5. I brought up the story at work with the guys
    suggesting that he "could be innocent" but the accused crime was so
    distasteful that I was becoming very unpopular with my suggestion. Almost
    like no one wanted him to be innocent and want him to PAY BIGTIME. Not
    really a bad hood as I never lock my car and rarely even lock the door at


    John, Jun 11, 2004
  20. You are asking your question in the wrong way; it is not a question of what
    you can photograph, it's a question of what use you can make of the
    photographs afterward.

    In general you are free to photograph almost anything freely seen in public.
    Exceptions include U.S. currency and certain U.S. military equipment and
    facilities. (Recent laws restricting photography of such things as bridges
    and police equipment are of doubtful constitutional standing.)

    Where restrictions exist, they apply to what use you make of the photographs
    once you've taken them. Many laws apply, but wide-spread ignorance
    prevails. Your local public library will provide much more reliable
    information than you're likely to find on the Internet.
    Philip Harris, Jun 11, 2004
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