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Photographer's rights

(Via Boing boing's coverage of a San Francisco photographer being harrassed by cops in a MUNI station):


The Photographer's Right is a downloadable guide that is loosely based on the ACLU's Bust Card and the Know Your Rights flyer. It may be downloaded and printed out using Adobe Acrobat Reader. You may make copies and carry them your wallet, pocket or camera bag to give you quick access to your rights and obligations concerning confrontations over photography. You may distribute the guide to others provided that such distribution is not done for commercial gain and credit is given to the author.

The right to take photographs is now under assault more than ever. People are being stopped, harassed, and even intimidated into handing over their personal property simply because they were taking photographs of subjects that made other people uncomfortable. Recent examples have included photographing industrial plants, bridges, and bus stations. For the most part, attempts to restrict photography are based on misguided fears about the supposed dangers that unrestricted photography presents to society.

Ironically, unrestricted photography by private citizens has played an integral role in protecting the freedom, security, and well being of all Americans. Photography in the United States has contributed to improvements in civil rights, curbed abusive child labor practices, and provided information important to investigating crimes. These images have not always been pretty and often have offended the sensibilities of governmental and commercial interests who had vested interests in a status quo that was adverse to the majority in our country.

Photography has not contributed to a decline in public safety or economic vitality in the United States. When people think back to the acts of terrorism that have occurred over the last forty years, none have depended on or even involved photography. Restrictions on photography would have not prevented any of these acts. Similarly, some corporations have a history of abusing the rights of photographers under the guise of protecting their trade secrets. These claims are almost always meritless because entities are required to keep trade secrets from public view if they want to protect them. Trade secret laws do not give anyone the right to restrain photographers from taking photographs from public places.

The site also links to a similar page about the rights of photographers in the UK. Netherlands, anyone?

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 13, 2005 1:40 PM.

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