with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

What Can You Photograph and What Can You Publish

James Stephens’s post, “Where and What You Can Photograph – Aspects of the Law”, points to some really good articles discussing the legal issues and rights of where you can photograph, what you can photograph, and what images can be published. They are:

Stephans sums it up really well on what your rights as a photographer are:

  • You can take photos any place that’s open to the public. You can even be on private property and still legally take pictures. You might be trespassing of course, but that’s another issue.
  • You can take any photo that does not intrude upon or invade the privacy of a person (if that person has a reasonable expectation of privacy).
  • You can publish virtually anything if it doesn’t cast someone in an unfavorable light, or reveal private facts about them.

The USA Today article brings up a really good point. While it seems that everything and anything made today has to have a camera built-into it, including cell phones, cars, handheld computers, laptops, and more, the issue of where and when you can take pictures is going to get serious.

A blogger I know shot a picture in an office building. One of the tenants had boxes of medical records sitting around in an unlocked office, visible from the hall. He published a picture of the boxes, which started a little brouhaha: He didn’t have permission from the building’s landlord, someone said, so he wasn’t allowed to take or publish the photos.

That turns out not to be the case.

What I discovered is that a lot of people have ideas — often very clear ones — of what is legal and what isn’t, based on anything from common sense to wishful thinking to “I always heard…”

Other than that, if you’re feeling nosy or just want to shoot unobtrusively, check this puppy out.

Trouble is, they aren’t always right. If you’ve got a digital camera and like to shoot in public, it pays to know the real deal.

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