The good news – I survived jury duty. The threat of me sitting on a jury obviously provoked some good sense on the part of the parties involved and many a settlement were reached. Free at last, free at last, I am free for the week.
But – this leaves a perfectly good opportunity to talk about an interesting legal issue as it pertains to photography. Cries of “Photography is not a Crime!” resonate while police and security guards constantly change the rules of what you can and can’t do with a camera.
When I was a much younger lad, I was known to occasionally sneak places with a camera that I should not have gone. Then I got older (and slower and less agile) and I begin to behave myself quite a bit more. Eventually, when I landed in the commercial/corporate photography world, the rules were strict and to be observed – with serious consequences if you did not. All of that is outside the realm of the post-9/11 world however. Things that no one batted an eye at before – from a legal standpoint when it came to photography – suddenly became seriously in question. “You can’t photograph that building” or “You can’t photograph in here” are becoming de rigueur statements – sometimes fairly and sometimes unfairly. A backlash against photography is, in some circles, resulting in a backlash against the authorities who want to regulate photography.
Let me state my bias. I’m wholeheartedly in the “Photography is not a Crime” camp. And yet I don’t want my gear taken and i would prefer not to be accosted by people who either don’t have the authority to accost me or do have it and choose to accost in a over-the-top way.
Here in Central Illinois, there aren’t that many opportunities to get yelled at – but if you’re willing to push the boundaries – there are places you can go where you legally have the right to photograph and yet are challenged.
So what are your rights as a photographer? Well – this isn’t a legal blog and I’m not a lawyer HOWEVER there are resources out there. Start with the industry standard “The Photographer’s Right“. This document, prepared by an attorney, gives you a ballpark in which to play legally speaking. Then consider checking out the archive at “The Photo Attorney” (it’s in the blogroll too) for a better understanding of all things legal in photography – extending to such things as copyright and orphan works.
Know your rights – and stand up for them. Photography IS NOT A CRIME. ‘Nuf said.