I was just participating in another thread, and came to the realization that photography laws are greatly misunderstood around here.
This was, honestly, quite shocking to me, considering that a large part of exposing conspiracies in government and religion, as well as documenting
supernatural phenomenon, can be aided by cameras.
I decided I would make a thread here, and do my best to enlighten you all as to what your legal rights as a citizen are when it comes to owning,
using, and distributing pictures.
First off though, this thread will be strictly concerned with American photography laws. The law changes based on your country. Here are some links
for Canadian Laws
, UK laws
, and New Zealand
. If your country is not listed among those, then you'll need a brighter man than I to help you figure out what is, and is not legal
concerning cameras in your country.
First off, here are two very good links for purchasable and printable versions of the actual legal explanations concerning photography and American
The Legal Handbook for Photographers
will tell you absolutely everything
there is to know about photography and the law in America. If you have a camera, and are planning to use it for anything outside of family gatherings,
or planned shoots in a secure location, I highly recommend attaining a copy of it.
outlines a majority of your rights in a small, printable version
which you can keep in your camera bag, or pockets, etc.
Now then, after you read through all of the legal work, there are essentially 4 good rules of thumb to abide by when trying to figure out whether or
not what you're doing is legal. They are:
01. Public and Private spaces
Public spaces, and all of their occupants, are completely open and fair game to photographers.
Sidewalks, roads, beaches, parks, museums, even
malls, are all considered public property. As such, your focus (the person or thing you're photographing) has no expectation of privacy when they use
them. As long as you and your subject are both on public property, take the picture.
Private spaces and their occupants cannot be photographed unless you are on public property.
Private spaces consist of areas like somebody's
home, a military facility, or other government owned buildings. It is illegal for you to enter them unlawfully (trespassing, breaking and entering,
etc), and also illegal for you to photograph their architecture of employees while on said private property.
02. Posted private property
First, any time that a sign is posted prohibiting photography, you are obligated to follow the signs command and not photograph that space.
you are on public property though, you may photograph what is in plain view.
Second, if you are approached by security/police/owners and told not to photograph a private space, you are obligated to obey them, and cease
taking pictures in that instance.
However, they are not allowed to confiscate your camera, your film, any of your possessions, or you
If they do so, you can seek legal recourse, such as claims of coercion, theft, and kidnapping, depending on the extent of what they do. For more
information on the specifics, consult the manual, or a lawyer.
Subjects standing on public property have no expectation of privacy.
The following subjects may all be photographed without consent if both
you, and they, are standing on public property:
There are, obviously, some exceptions to this rule. For instance:
First, anybody who establishes a credible private space cannot be photographed. A bathroom, a beach changing stall, or the ATM would constitute some
of these locations. Do not take pictures of people when they are, for all intents and purposes, doing something which they should expect privacy.
Second, if the owner, or one of their employees, approaches you asking you not to do so. For areas like malls you can ask to see the documentation
prohibiting photography. If they produce it, abide by it. If they cannot, ask to speak to the owner, and get clarification that it is, indeed, against
the policies of the area. As a rule of thumb, I always request areas post said documentation afterward, to avoid further hassle with other
photographers like myself.
04. Misinformed opinions
Plenty of people are unaware of photography laws, as such, photographing many of the following things is often believed to be a criminal act.
However, as photography is protected by the first amendment of the United States Constitution under freedom of expression and of the press, as long as
you are standing on public property, and do not interfere with any proceedings, IE: don't get in the way of police, you may photograph any of the
As much of the above is not common knowledge, there is a good chance that you will encounter resistance from government and elected officials should
you try exercising your right as a photographer. Almost without fail you will be arrested for practicing what is your legal right. It is important for
you to understand, should this happen, that you have not broken any law
. If you are arrested, you can seek legal recourse.
For information on how to communicate with police, and how to properly handle getting arrested for exercising your rights as an American, you can
consult groups like Cop Block
and their associates.
For further information on your legal rights concerning photography and government officials, talk with your family lawyer.
Well ATS, that's all I've got. I hope this thread helps inform you a little bit more about the power you possess with your cameras, and the strength
with which you may use them for the good of us all.
MODS, if you can think of a better forum than the Gray Area for this, please move it.
~ Wandering Scribe