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Thursday, January 04, 2007


The Photographer's Rights

This is an article I just wrote up to spread the word about the photographer's rights. This retells the incident that happened while I was out taking photographs with two of my photographer friends.

The Photographer’s Right

On Wednesday, January 3, 2006, I was with two of my photographer friends. We were on Ketchum, the street where Airways Middle School is located and the place we stopped, a transportation cargo load/unload place.
My friend and I stayed in the car while our friend, Kelso, went to go take some photographs. As he left, a huge worker there came up to him. After a few minutes, I knew something was wrong. They preceded to demand his camera over, but this wasn’t confirmed until Kelso ran. He dropped one of his cameras which the huge guy picked up and kept.
Kelso tried to get it back which almost ended in confrontation with the man and other co-workers who were coming out to back the huge man. Kelso decided not to precede in which would probably be a brawl.
He got in the car and we drove off, minus a camera.

What is important about this? Our rights as photographers. Almost everyone owns a camera and I did some research today (Thursday, January 4, 2006).

Under the laws that I looked up, which are merely advise us on photographer’s right but
not as legal standings:
What the following these people did was illegal.
  • They have a camera that isn’t theirs, which is THEFT. They even demanded his whole bag of cameras, according to Kelso.
  • They threatened to call the police, which this one woman did while giving out our location to someone on the phone, I am not sure if it was the police or she was pretending. But threatening to call the police is coercion, which is a felony in SOME states.
  • They tried to detain Kelso, which is attempted kidnapping in some forms.

    As photographers, NO ONE, especially the police, can force us to take out camera, digital cameras or film. Only a court order can make us.

    Taking a photograph is not an act of terrorism not does it infringe on its “trade secrets”.

    Of course, Kelso did go into the area, but taking his camera is not a reasonably excuse to do so. There were no trespassing signs visible. I did not see any. The streets the car was parked on was public.

    But the main idea now is, these people DID NOT have the right to confiscate/take Kelso’s camera.

    For more information on photographer’s rights, please go to:
    USA Today Article (old)
    A .pdf file is available who wants to read this.
    Tommy “Photographer’s Rights Now”
  • Labels:

    That is a sad story. It's important for us to know our rights, but it's also equally important for other people to know, too, so they don't act inappropriately.

    What you write is true; it's theft to take a photographer's camera, or film. It's private property. Even if photographs are taken which technically are not supposed to be, one can legally retain that film as their private property, even if barred from taking further photos. (Ergo, shoot first ask later in photography if you have big doubts.)

    The most Kelso could be charged with is trespass, but I think it's usually important for an independent photographer to ignore trespass laws. Also, even if it is private property, if it can be seen from public view (which it probably could have been, if you saw the incident), it's considered legal to photograph.

    That really sucks about the lost camera though. :\
    Yeah, there weren't signs of trespassing but we knew it was private property.
    We have run ins with other people but they just told us to call them next time if we wanted to come in and take photographs.
    But no worries, it was one of the free cameras Kelso got.
    All I know is, we can't take photographs of people that infringes on their privacy, so going in there wasn't much of a legal issue because there weren't any signs nor was it not closed off, the gates were opened.
    I need to post a photo.
    i feel as if you really have to go out of your way to infringe on someone's privacy though. :\

    i still support trespass though.

    and yes photos!
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