Photography and the law



  • Dredden85Dredden85 Posts: 364Member
    Great info everyone. In terms of Law and Photography, what is the best way to obtain a copyright?
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  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    edited March 2013
    Remember copyright law is different in different countries
    In the UK, there is no need to register copy right
    for example a self employed photographer, is noramlly automatically the owner of the copyright of his work
    but beware like all laws regardless of contry, in order to keep the lawyers busy, the law is complicated and subject to change
    Post edited by sevencrossing on
  • JJPhotosJJPhotos Posts: 47Member
    In the UK you can take a photo of pretty much anyone or anything without the subject or its owner (in the case of an object or animal) having to consent. Obviously this is subject, as in any area of law, to the photographer exercising some discretion and acting in a reasonable manner. For example, it would almost certainly be an actionable offence to climb over someone's garden wall and start taking photos of them but that wouldn't be so much because you are taking photos, rather it would be the act of photo-taking that constituted a breach of their property rights or an act of harassment in itself.

    Some large property owners (i.e. of shopping centres/malls) may wish to prohibit the taking of photographs on their property but the chances of anyone being prosecuted for contravening such a rule are absolutely minimal.

    The laws which are applicable to photography are broadly the same across the UK, regardless of the jurisdiction and the approach taken by the prosecuting authorities will not vary fundamentally. Different police forces and officers may have their own unique take on a) what the law says and b) what their powers are but that's just human nature for you and, of course, they don't have the final say on who is prosecuted (thank god).

    I am always intrigued by the generally very pliant attitude that US citizens have towards 'authority', even when they know the individual exercising it is clearly overstepping the mark. Is it something to do with the US being founded by rules-bound Germanic Protestants? Whilst it's not advisable to have an out-and-out argument with a police officer anywhere I can't see all that many photographers here in the UK would let a police officer off without at least pointing out where they were going wrong.
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    In England and Wales If you go on "private" property, regardless of whether you are taking photographs or not , you committing a trespass, which is a civil, not a criminal offence
    the law in Scotland is different
    There are difference laws for places such as beaches or railway stations
    It is a good idea to understand what is and is not a "public place"
    unless you on the road, pavement ( sidewalk) there is high chance you are on private property
  • Dredden85Dredden85 Posts: 364Member
    msmoto always has the right answer ^:)^
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  • mikepmikep Posts: 280Member
    edited March 2013
    i was out in westminster a few weeks ago with a tripod, and had no problems from police - i was with a group of about 20-30 people, all with tripods. there was a lot of police doing a fuel test stop for illegal diesel, me and this guy set up our tripods next to them to shoot across the river, they didnt come near us.

    there was one security guard that stopped me between the london eye and westminster bridge saying it was private property and i wasnt allowed to use a tripod. to which i said ok and folded in my tripod legs instantly, and continued. he followed me putting his hand in front of the lens and generally being belligerent, saying i wasnt allowed to have a tripod attached even if i wasnt using it. i gave him some colorful language, ignored him, and left the "private property" straight away.

    i tried to find out who owns this extremely public place so i could email a complaint, but i got no reply from the police, who have so far ignored my emails.

    i think its best to comply, be nice (if possible), and then if it warrants it, complain afterwards when the situation is calm. even if the "authority figure" is in the wrong, there are a lot of crazy people out there who dont handle confrontation well at the best of times.

    for me, the way some people react to having their picture taken in public is really weird. i cant undertand why some people pull strange faces at you and hurry to get out of the way. i couldnt care less if paparazzi followed me all day and all night, they can join me in the shower for all i care. i cant really see the difference between looking at someone and taking their picture to be honest. and i guess there are those who dont like to be looked at too ......

    i find people react better and worse in different countries. and those who do pull horrible faces at me, i know that they enjoy looking at pictures themselves, and they themselves have enjoyed looking at a picture taken in public, with people in it. i know that they themselves have taken a picture in a public place. show me a human who has never been in a picture, enjoyed looking at a picture or taken a picture. the hypocrites.

    i was thinking of starting a thread with images where we have caught people pulling horrible faces when you take them in public ..... shall i/we ? i have at least 10 of this type of image. even people i wasnt pointing the camera at, caught at the side of the image pulling a horrible face just because i am holding a camera seemingly. WTF

    even for taking pictures of children, i cant see a problem. if i had kids, and someone wanted to take a picture of them in public, my reaction would be "smile for the camera, billy". the act of taking a picture is not harmful, it is healthy social interaction imo. if a person said to me "hey dont take pictures of kids", or "you shouldnt post pictures of kids online", or something like that, i would assume it was them that had an issue with their own relationship with children.
    Post edited by mikep on
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member

    even for taking pictures of children, i cant see a problem..
    There can be a issue with posting photographs of children on line
    If the child has been taken into care and your photo reveals their whereabouts. This is why schools can be very sensitve about photography, bear in mind, people will not want to draw attention to the fact a child is in care

  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    If you are going to photograph children, IMO it is best to always have identification, and your card so you can always give this to the parents. Without parents around, I would be very careful about the photography of minors. The potential risks of very serious problems in the USA at least, suggests this is an area to avoid.
    Msmoto, mod
  • JJPhotosJJPhotos Posts: 47Member
    edited March 2013
    The law of trespass in Scotland isn't actually as different to that of England and Wales as most people tend to think. There is no common-law 'right to roam' though there is now a statutory provision which renders it almost impossible for anyone to claim that trespass has occurred without the defender somehow having been shown to have caused damage or a nuisance - this would be the offence of aggravated trespass.

    My point is that the act of taking a photograph is not the issue - the point is that you may not be allowed on the property at all. However, having allowed someone onto their property without any precondition (as in the case of a shopping centre or, worse an area of uncovered 'public' space in the middle of London, it is arguable whether someone acting for the proprietor can be prohibit the taking of photographs.

    In any event the privatisation of public space ought to be a real concern for citizens around the world for precisely the reason that we then start to fall prey to the tyranny of ill-qualified and unaccountable 'mall cops'.
    Post edited by JJPhotos on
  • itsnotmeyouknowitsnotmeyouknow Posts: 481Member
    I was stopped from taking photos in London's Paddington station by a member of Network Rail. It was outside rush hour, the station wasn't busy, I wasn't using flash and I wasn't causing an obstruction. I contacted Network Rail via twitter and they apologised saying that the member of staff was incorrect in telling me to stop.

  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    edited March 2013
    i tried to find out who owns this extremely public place so i could email a complaint, but i got no reply from the police, who have so far ignored my emails.

    There are times in life when it is, easier to apologize than get official permission

    If you really need written permission
    eg you are doing commercial shoot and the Clint requires the Ts crossed and Is dotted
    Be aware it might be very expensive and you will almost certainly need substantial third party liability insurance
    One you have an letter saying No. you are in a weak position if you do go ahead with out permission

    The police may well know who owns the land but they will not be allowed to tell you

    Post edited by sevencrossing on
  • mikepmikep Posts: 280Member
    i was just reminded of something ... in a mall once i saw a shop had covered a pillar, outside the front of the shop, in little stuffed pandas. i have no idea why. it looked kinda quirky and cool, but it was ruined by a sign in the middle of the pandas that read "NO PHOTOGRAPH"

    i understand that it was private property, but still, so. strange.

    i cant see any immorality in taking a picture, or any form of art. what if i draw something from memory? what is the difference?

    people are taking pictures everywhere, all the time these days. the idea of something being wrong with taking pictures in a public or a private place is patently insane.

    add to that hidden cameras. hahahaha. correct me if i am wrong but wouldnt the terroristpedophiles (of which there are many) use small hidden cameras for their dirty work? or perhaps google streetview? rather than dslrs and tripods?

    i think it is part of a general intimidation of the public, to stir up fear and angst. its certainly not born out of reality.
  • mikepmikep Posts: 280Member
    edited March 2013

    i dont want permission, its not a good spot anyway. my issue is that the security guard continued to harass me after i stopped using my tripod the instant he told me to. i hadnt taken any pictures yet, i was just walking through, put my camera down when he approached. i had done nothing wrong. he said "you cant use tripod here" i said "ok" and folded the legs down .... then he tried to start an argument and was putting his hand in front of my camera etc .... a real jerk
    Post edited by mikep on
  • paulrpaulr Posts: 1,176Member
    edited March 2013
    This Subject can go on and on, I think sometimes photographers are now more wary of taking photographs in public places than security and police officers.
    Having good communication skills are far better than any argument, even if you are right. People in uniforms love to give advice, so a friendly attitude asking their advice and information can get you a lot further than demanding your rights
    I was once taking photographs for a client in Leeds and Police officer asked me why i was taking photographs of the building, I told him the truth and he wished me good luck {It was a rather sad looking building}

    Simple communication does work and if they want ID I am happy to show it.
    Post edited by paulr on
    Camera, Lens and Tripod and a few other Bits
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
  • shawninoshawnino Posts: 453Member
    I boil this down to two points:

    1) It's more effective to go-along-to-get-along to get the image.

    2) I'm disgusted with myself whenever I go-along-to-get-along. This is not an indictment of anybody else; we each have to make these choices for ourselves. I just find it really hard to look in the mirror. This is not a human rights forum so I'll just say it as succinctly as I can without examples: in my country (Canada) and in other Western countries I've seen lately, I think our personal rights and freedoms are under attack. As such, I feel I ought to stand up for my rights when some agent of the government tries to take them away. When I fail to do so, I loathe myself.
  • MikeGunterMikeGunter Posts: 543Member
    Hi all,

    @mikep, "i was just reminded of something ... in a mall once i saw a shop had covered a pillar, outside the front of the shop, in little stuffed pandas. i have no idea why. it looked kinda quirky and cool, but it was ruined by a sign in the middle of the pandas that read "NO PHOTOGRAPH""

    Not sure, but my guess is that it is an attempt to protect their trademark or copyright of display or 'panda' or window dressing.

    I've been 'detained' by police in a former life as a wire service reporter/photographer - for my own protection, isn't it always ;-), but really, a free press will find a way.

    Getting a good photo is great, and knowing your rights is paramount, but being smart and being really smart are two different things. It's like a 'little learning is a dangerous thing'.

    You can walk in a cross walk and be in the right-of-way while a truck runs you over and you'd still have the right of way, but you'll be just as dead.

    There was a website that had a printable sheet one could carry around with general rights that was a pretty good guide that might be a good idea for those interested.

    My best,

  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    Mike, perhaps that is where the saying "dead to rights" came from...
  • MikeGunterMikeGunter Posts: 543Member
    Hi all,

    @Ironheart, Could be - makes sense, doesn't it. :-)

    I was a 'rush in' guy once, as in like what 'fools' do, but angels have protected me, for the most part. The police in the above example were military police, and there was a real danger, there was a toxic gas that put dozens of people in emergency rooms in very critical condition and some livestock died.

    It would have been very, very foolish for me to do what I was going to do, but then I felt invulnerable. As I said, angels looked out for me - and it wasn't the only time.

    Rights are one thing, looking both ways before crossing the walkway is another.

    My best to all,

  • dissentdissent Posts: 1,305Member
    This is a couple of HOURS long, but it might be worth a look.
    - Ian . . . [D7000, D7100; Nikon glass: 35 f1.8, 85 f1.8, 70-300 VR, 105 f2.8 VR, 12-24 f4; 16-85 VR, 300 f4D, 14E-II TC, SB-400, SB-700 . . . and still plenty of ignorance]
  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,181Member
    I was thinking of submitting my picture to SA but this clause gives me pause.. what do you guys think? ..

    "If you do submit material, and unless we indicate otherwise, you grant Scientific American and its affiliates a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, transferable and fully sub-licensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, display and perform such content throughout the world in any media now known or hereafter invented. You grant Scientific American and its affiliates the right to use the name you submit in connection with such content, if they so choose. You will retain any ownership rights you may have in the materials you submit, subject to the licenses granted to Scientific American in these Terms of Use. You also understand and agree that users of this site who may access the content you submit are granted a non-exclusive license to access, use, reproduce, distribute, display and perform your content."
    Moments of Light - D610 D7K S5pro 70-200f4 18-200 150f2.8 12-24 18-70 35-70f2.8 : C&C very welcome!
    Being a photographer is a lot like being a Christian: Some people look at you funny but do not see the amazing beauty all around them - heartyfisher.

  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    I have only had one photo reproduced in SA. ( nearly 50 years ago) I would say the Kudos was worth a lot more more than any reproduction fee
  • WestEndBoyWestEndBoy Posts: 1,456Member
    edited October 2014
    I am chomping at the bit to create a court precedent in Canada but no cop has been dumb enough to take the bait. I figure it will cost me $10k to $20k.

    I almost suceeded about 20 years ago in a photography incident involving an ex-prime minister, but unfortunately the cops got good legal advice and backed off.
    Post edited by WestEndBoy on
  • ThomasHortonThomasHorton Posts: 323Member
    Cops. I find that as soon as they realize I do not "have an attitude" or act in any way to "challenge" their authority, they back off their aggressiveness and act more polite. Your first initial response to them in words and expressions can make a big difference. Now if I pulled out my "photographer's rights card" and started to insist upon my rights, they will see that as an attitude or a challenge to their authority. So respond to them politely and you will get a better response from them.
    +1 The last thing you want to do is insist on your rights when you have a cop trying to assert authority. It will not end up well. If you embarass the cop, they can find something harass you about.

    I think those "photographer rights" cards would do more to escallate the situation than to quell. Does anyone really expect a cop to back down?

    Being polite and cooperative will do wonders. It is much better for that "other" photographer to stand up to the cops and take one for all photographers. :)

    I wish the US was not like this, but we are slowly becoming more of a police state with our police getting more authority and less accountability.

    All in the name of "keeping the public safe". ~X(
    Gear: Camera obscura with an optical device which transmits and refracts light.
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