Our Legal Rights to Photograph in Public Places?

Having just read this Wired article http://www.wired.com/news/wiredmag/0,72315-0.html?tw=rss.index about a person’s rights to take photos in/of public spaces in the United States, I’m reminded of a long-standing question about whether something similar applies in Taiwan.

I’m not talking about photos featuring specific (non-celebrity) people (discussed at [url]Can I take someone's photo and publish it? just of buildings or sidewalks or storefronts/names or whatever else you happen to see while walking down the street. I’ve been stopped before from taking a picture of a construction site (those tall cranes) before, and I’ve seen someone get stopped from taking a picture of a really neat looking bicycle … which happened to have a storefront behind.

So … the question is, are we legally allowed to take photos of things that are easily viewable from public locations without prosecution or security guard trouble?

Thanks!

I know that you cannot take pictures of military bases in Taiwan. They will get upset if you try.

Check out this thread on a similar subject: [url=http://tw.forumosa.com/t/need-to-pay-to-film-taipei-101/25249/1 to pay to film Taipei 101[/url]

This is why I still use my Nikon Coolpix 2500 camera (but there is a new model, 6 megapixel, out from them now with a similar design) – it has a swiveling lens. You can stop and seem to be doing something with the menu or looking at previously taken pictures, but since the lens swivels, you can actually be taking pictures of things at angles no one would suspect.

Personally, my take is that if you build something as big as Taipei 101 and someone wants to take a picture of it (not for commercial use, I mean, just a snap) you’d better have developed some kind of cloaking technology if you want to stop them. :smiley:

You can not just make pictures of things, properties, persons when it’s fully recognizable and use it for commercial reasons.

Example: 101, The Atomium in Brussels, the Taj Mahal in India and many other monuments and buildings, private properties … you’ll need a release form from the owner, architect, or person taking care are owning the rights to it.

I was even stopped from taking a picture of dead meat on a stick in Gaoxiung :laughing:

Airports, train stations, military bases, and presidential (royal) palaces are normally of limits …

Mostly nothing will held against you when not used for commercial purposes … if they don’t contest you taking a picture.

News, events, press conferences, festivals or major piublic events are allowed to be photographed and the pictures used for news covering, or editorial pictures …

That’s about what I know about it … but in the US, most is in the gray area and without a release you could be sued any moment …

True pretty much everywhere - the US is no exception!

[quote=“belgian pie”]
That’s about what I know about it … but in the US, most is in the gray area and without a release you could be sued any moment …[/quote]

You’ve worked as a photographer in the US?

[quote=“Doctor Evil”][quote=“belgian pie”]
That’s about what I know about it … but in the US, most is in the gray area and without a release you could be sued any moment …[/quote]

You’ve worked as a photographer in the US?[/quote]

Does it matter … or is it just your ego that wants to know …?

Take a picture of the cops, get arrested.

[quote=“belgian pie”][quote=“Doctor Evil”][quote=“belgian pie”]
That’s about what I know about it … but in the US, most is in the gray area and without a release you could be sued any moment …[/quote]

You’ve worked as a photographer in the US?[/quote]

Does it matter … or is it just your ego that wants to know …?[/quote]

You made the statement about being sued in the US. I just wondered if you have any experience shooting or being sued in the US. Or if it’s just more of your mouth.

I suspect it’s the later.

Sounds more like refusing to follow a police officers instructions and getting arrested.

This topic has been done to death on the couple of photography fora I read. In the US, you only need a release if you’re using the image for commercial purposes e.g. advertising. You don’t need a release even if you snapped a picture of someone and you’re selling it as art. Here’s an interesting story about an orthodox Jewish man who sued a photographer for selling a surreptitiously taken street photo of him for hundreds of thousand of dollars because his Orthodox Jewish beliefs forbid this. His lawsuit was thrown out on 1st Amendment grounds.

I’m actually very sympathetic to the Jewish man in this case, and think the case should have gone forward on the grounds of poor street photography technique, but that’s just me.

Doing some Googling, I see that Belgium has more restrictive laws. According to this link (PDF link, 3rd page),

[quote]Photographers who are commissioned to take portrait
photographs cannot use the photos for publication without the
permission of the subject. If the subject is dead, then permission
needs to be sought from the family for the next ten years. So,
there is a right of veto[/quote]

In other words, you need to be more careful in Belgium than you would in America if you’re taking pictures in public places.

This topic has been done to death on the couple of photography fora I read. In the US, you only need a release if you’re using the image for commercial purposes e.g. advertising. You don’t need a release even if you snapped a picture of someone and you’re selling it as art. Here’s an interesting story about an orthodox Jewish man who sued a photographer for selling a surreptitiously taken street photo of him for hundreds of thousand of dollars because his Orthodox Jewish beliefs forbid this. His lawsuit was thrown out on 1st Amendment grounds.

I’m actually very sympathetic to the Jewish man in this case, and think the case should have gone forward on the grounds of poor street photography technique, but that’s just me.

Doing some Googling, I see that Belgium has more restrictive laws. According to this link (PDF link, 3rd page),

[quote]Photographers who are commissioned to take portrait
photographs cannot use the photos for publication without the
permission of the subject. If the subject is dead, then permission
needs to be sought from the family for the next ten years. So,
there is a right of veto[/quote]

In other words, you need to be more careful in Belgium than you would in America if you’re taking pictures in public places.[/quote]

Did he get sued or not? That’s what I posted … not that he would be convicted

I guess you need to learn your geography … the Netherlands is not Belgium …

:bravo:

[quote=“alidarbac”]
This topic has been done to death on the couple of photography fora I read. In the US, you only need a release if you’re using the image for commercial purposes e.g. advertising. You don’t need a release even if you snapped a picture of someone and you’re selling it as art. Here’s an interesting story about an orthodox Jewish man who sued a photographer for selling a surreptitiously taken street photo of him for hundreds of thousand of dollars because his Orthodox Jewish beliefs forbid this. His lawsuit was thrown out on 1st Amendment grounds.[/quote]

It also depends on what state you’re in. The case you referred to was in New York. California courts look at 'commercial purposes" differently…because of the film industry, I guess.

But, be that as it may, photographing strangers on the street is not the same as simply shooting in public areas. One thing I found in Europe was the problem with using a tripod. Half the places you go they’re verboten…the other half they want you to pay an astronomical “tripod fee”…in Holland I was told by a policeman that my tripod could be used to mount a sniper rifle. And this was in 1999.

I’ve never really had any problem shooting here…other than a fishing boat coming close to shore to watch while I was shooting nudes in Toucheng. :laughing:

I’m not a professional photographer by any stretch of the imagination. But I somehow have the impression that one might note a stark difference between a camera and a sniper rifle.

Matt

You also can use a tripod to mount some ‘bullshit’ on top … right … carry on …