Bedford Ramblings
Steve Mills

Photography issues getting closer to home? Taking a public photo

Posted Sunday, July 13, 2008, at 7:33 AM
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  • Steve;

    As I understand the law, any photo that contains the "Copyright" symbol, cannot be used without the permission of the creator. Any photo that does not have the "Copyright" symbol, is free to use with no permission necessary.

    I think the persons involved in the above article will succeed, because of the 1st Amendment. If there are charges brought against the photographer, the ACLU is ready to spring and bring suit against the parties suing the photographer. There are people that are taking photos of police arresting people, with camera phones, with the attempt to show police brutality.

    No prosecutions. Usually, New York, California.

    A little bit off the subject: Evil Money, in a previous blog you asked about Christmas decorations. A couple of years ago, the ACLU sued in Federal court over Christians displaying Crosses, Nativity Scenes, Etc, on public property.

    They succeeded against All religious faiths except Muslims. That's why I made the statement we would be decorating our back closets.

    In Saudi Arabia, it is forbidden to take photos of Saudi people, government buildings, airports, Gold Shops, Etc. I have a photo of my wife smiling, with the Saudi King's Seal in the background, on the block wall around his 10,000 acre compound.

    Priceless! I've seen Saudi Police confiscate a camera, open it up, unroll the film and give the camera back to the photographer. More than 3 dozen times.

    Just look for the "Copyright", or website logo on the photo.

    Hope this helps. I don't think there is a Federal Law, or State Law, regarding photos because of the 1st Amendment.

    Just what I see.

    -- Posted by framestraight on Sun, Jul 13, 2008, at 10:20 AM
  • I can't get the link to work. :<

    The various issues that could (or should) affect photos might be dealt with some application of common sense and courtesy.

    What might be the motive of someone taking a picture of a child playing?

    If someone takes a picture of your house,are they admiring your landscaping or new addition or are they going to use your place as an example of "remuddling" or a good target for a home invasion?

    The person who takes a picture of a neglected or abused animal is a hero-just like the person who records an assault on a school bus with a camera phone or photographs a polluted waterway.

    But,what of the person who takes a pic of a woman entering a hotel with a man who's not her husband or one of a person claiming disability who's shooting hoops in a friend's backyard?

    It might be one thing to take a snapshot of a quaint family cemetary and another to trespass on a farmer's land to get it.

    Then,there's the whole issue of digital photography and pictures that can be sent off or altered in a heartbeat.

    (No film,no negatives,no way of determining the true source of the image.)

    We have a lot less privacy these days.

    That transparency can keep us on our best behavior but it also leaves us less posession of our own lives.

    In this matter and others,we'll need to develop ways of respecting each other's boundaries and making sure that the trust we place in one another is warranted.

    -- Posted by quantumcat on Sun, Jul 13, 2008, at 12:32 PM
  • Actually that is incorrect about copyright, the Berne Convention overrides the Copyright. Trust me I am going through the same thing with a large corporation stealing images that I took and the Berne Convention sides with me.

    -- Posted by Evil Monkey on Sun, Jul 13, 2008, at 1:17 PM
  • Steve

    Below is the correct link for the web site about the guy that was arrested for taking a picture of a police officer.


    Laws change according to individual attitudes of police officer. I have taken many pictures of city police and fireman with very few problems in well over 40 years now. Remember to stay out of the way, do not interfere with the officer doing his or her duty but that can change at any second. It depends who the officer is or how much of the police academy instruction classes they retained, if he or she even went to the academy. Most have the attitude that because they have a gun, they are God and they are not. Manchester, Tn. seems to be more sensitive to their officers being photographed than other places in the 40 years that I have been a freelance photography and also an X-Police photographer myself. In the 70's we did not have a problem with people taking our pictures or even taping us with hand held tape recorders and that was over 35 years ago. Did they pass a law that no one knows about or what.

    Photo Man 44

    -- Posted by Photo Man on Mon, Jul 14, 2008, at 12:03 AM
  • I am not aware of it, but I am not as involved as you appear to have been and maybe are still. I have a feeling it you hit this on eon the head about the individual policeman and may a little friction with the guy who did the photo.

    I have been following stories like this over in Great Britain and apparently there it is backed up by more law.

    I like your blog name. What do you think of digital these days?

    -- Posted by stevemills on Mon, Jul 14, 2008, at 5:57 PM
  • Hey Steve

    I got interested in Photography while in the Air Force in the early 60's. Its been an avid hobby and job at times most of my life. I still have an 8' X 14' totally dedicated dark room in my home to this day. I went digital several years ago and love the new higher resolution of the new cameras. I use strictly Sony, but there are many other fine cameras just as good if not better out there and they get cheaper by the day seems like. Editing is just so easy and a snap. Remember the good old days when you had to run out, take a picture with the old film 35 mm camera and then rush back and develop it, even if you had to push it some to get decent results, then all the dodging and burning, Not any more. Photo shop it and your done. I taught both our kids how to roll, develop and print their own photos. I now teach the grand kids the basics of the old film days and they seem to love it, well makes them appreciate the easy of digital. You know kids. Anyway, digital cameras are definitely here to stay and I see them getting even better. There are so many laws about the use of and taking of pictures you would not believe it. I have several books on the law and photography and it really all boils down to common sense when taking pictures. I photograph old barns, scenery, and stuff like that and occasionally run up on a wreck or police situation that I photograph and believe it or not have only had 2 run ins with the law and both were in Manchester, Tn. for some reason and that's within the the last 2 years. I was threatened to be arrested one time for taking a picture of a policeman man handling a drunk one afternoon in Manchester, Tn. I got the picture anyway, but did back off pretty quickly, but was still threatened by the policeman who is not on the force anymore. I carried the picture still on the camera to the police department and made a complain on the officer. But I still use courtesy and common sense when taking any kind of pictures out in the public and always avoid pictures of kids of any kind. It just makes life easier if you know what I mean. I don't respond to blogs to often, but this one hit close to home for me. I read them quiet often and Shelbyville seems to keep pretty busy and up to date on their local information. I like that very much. Have a great day.

    -- Posted by Photo Man on Tue, Jul 15, 2008, at 1:32 AM
  • Thanks photoman. It is nice to know you are out there.

    Kids are such fantastic subjects, and I never thought about the other side until just recently, but I understand and will think twice about it when I get my new camera.

    I sold my darkroom equipment about a year and a half ago. Had not used it in years and digital seemed to be here to stay. I used to enjoy the "magic" of the darkroom but not the chemicals.

    I do some advanced things with photoshop, but I have seen our daughter do wonders. It is amazing.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Jul 15, 2008, at 4:48 AM
  • I'm not sure the legalities, but as a journalist and photo journalist, I let basic courtesy be the rule of thumb. Any time I see a great picture opportunity with a child that will be missed if I wait too long, I go ahead and take it. Then I immediately identiy myself to the parents and let them know why I am taking the picture.

    For someone outside the newspaper field, I recommend getting the parents' permission first. Generic release forms can give you permission to use the images in commercial ways.

    -- Posted by MotherMayhem on Tue, Jul 15, 2008, at 9:05 AM
  • I have a question, I took a picture of a public building, I used it on my website and it has my name right under it. A major corporation has used that image on one of their main advertising books without my permission. What are my options as they will not return my calls?

    -- Posted by Evil Monkey on Tue, Jul 15, 2008, at 12:09 PM
  • EV;

    That's what I was saying about U.S Copyright Law,

    If there is anything on that photo, it CANNOT be used without the makers permission. I write for 4 forums, and some include photos. If there is nothing on the photo, I still caption the photo with

    "With Acknowledgment of the Maker"

    If YOUR name is on that photo, with no acknowledgment of you, they are in violation of the Copyright Law. I understand the Berne Convention.

    Sounds like you need a Copyright Attorney for Copyright Infringement. I bet you win. Copyright infringement is taken very seriously, all over the world. Example: Chinese duplicating CD's, DVD's,

    and Microsoft Windows software.

    I think those people are in trouble. Good Luck with it. I'm on your side on this one!

    -- Posted by framestraight on Tue, Jul 15, 2008, at 1:42 PM
  • framestraight,

    could you contact me at 536-1279 I have a few questions.

    -- Posted by Evil Monkey on Tue, Jul 15, 2008, at 5:48 PM
  • Based on this information from the Tennessee code, it does not appear that the East Tennessee incident has any merit, except that an officer made a poor decision, based on the information we have and should have backed off his arrest.


    From this page click on Title 39, then Chapter 13, then part 6 and you will see 605.

    39-13-605. Unlawful photographing in violation of privacy. --

    (a) It is an offense for a person to knowingly photograph, or cause to be photographed an individual, when the individual is in a place where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, without the prior effective consent of the individual, or in the case of a minor, without the prior effective consent of the minor's parent or guardian, if the photograph:

    (1) Would offend or embarrass an ordinary person if such person appeared in the photograph; and

    (2) Was taken for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification of the defendant.

    (b) As used in this section, unless the context otherwise requires, "photograph" means any photograph or photographic reproduction, still or moving, or any videotape or live television transmission of any individual so that the individual is readily identifiable.

    (c) All photographs taken in violation of this section shall be confiscated and, after their use as evidence, destroyed.

    (d) (1) A violation of this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

    (2) If the defendant disseminates or permits the dissemination of the photograph to any other person, a violation of this section is a Class E felony.

    [Acts 1994, ch. 970, § 2; 1997, ch. 469, §§ 1, 2; 2000, ch. 667, § 2.]

    -- Posted by stevemills on Thu, Jul 17, 2008, at 10:08 AM
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