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CicliCiocc Registered since 01st Nov 2011Sun 01-Apr-12 11:10 PM
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"PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"


US
          

In response to an earlier posting about a temple u student getting arrested.
I thought this link might be helpful. It's from your friends at the ACLU! Very informative and balanced. Go ahead, hit the link Ace.

http://www.aclu.org/free-speech/know-your-rights-photographers

  

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grizzly200 Registered since 18th Dec 2011Sun 01-Apr-12 11:16 PM
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#1. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 0


Solano County, California, US
          

Cicli,
Thanks for the link!

James

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberMon 02-Apr-12 02:03 AM
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#2. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 0


Philadelphia, US
          

Hi Cicli,

I always feel it's important to emphasize that advice like that given by the ACLU at the link you provided, which I've reviewed carefully again today, and in the past, when I first heard about the advice, and a now companion piece written last year, You Have Every Right to Photograph That Cop, that the "Know your Rights" article and others like it, from the ACLU and other organizations, is general advice, and rules of thumb, not strictly written legal opinion on which you can base your behavior in the US.

For example, something the ACLU article fails to mention, which is very important, is you don't have the right to photography certain designated Military and Energy installations, including most, if not all DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) facilities, even if they look completely innocuous such as office buildings or the Pentagon Metro stop. For these cases the Federal law governing this prohibition is 18 USC 795 - Photographing and sketching defense installations.

I will add that based on the experience of others, there apparently doesn't even have to be a notice that photography of a particular site is illegal.

There are two pieces of advice in the article which stand out to me as something we all should pay particular attention to, if confronted by the police.

"If stopped for photography, the right question to ask is, "am I free to go?" If the officer says no, then you are being detained, something that under the law an officer cannot do without reasonable suspicion that you have or are about to commit a crime or are in the process of doing so. Until you ask to leave, your being stopped is considered voluntary under the law and is legal."

Asking the question, "Am I free to go?" early in any conversation you have with police is very important. It establishes a legal marker, if they don't permit you to go, and puts the police in the position, in case of continued problems, that they have to have a reasonable suspicion that you have, are in the midst of, or are going to commit a crime.

The other piece of advice, which I find very few have discussed when talking about photographers' rights is their statement, "With regards to videotaping, there is an important legal distinction between a visual photographic record (fully protected) and the audio portion of a videotape, which some states have tried to regulate under state wiretapping laws."

From state to state there are a myriad of wiretapping laws, which are often difficult to understand for anyone, and with today's DSLR's and Point & Shoot "still" cameras able to take video, if you do so, you've got to be cognizant that especially when taking video, with audio, of the police in action, you may be violating state law.

I agree that we all should know are rights, and stick up for them, but you've got to temper that with your demeanor when you run into problems and how you speak with them.

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

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davidben33 Registered since 17th Dec 2012Sat 12-Jan-13 09:41 PM
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#3. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 2


Brooklyn, US
          

I find a very brief, and useful issue in:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photography_and_the_law#United_States

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberSun 13-Jan-13 12:42 PM
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#4. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 3


Philadelphia, US
          

David, thanks for the link, but I want to reiterate what I've said many times in these forums about such web advice. It's extremely general. In particular, the information at the link you've offered, in my opinion, like many web summaries, is missing key information, and there are mistakes, and important omissions in the information.

In my opinion, you can't rely on the information on this page. The information on the ACLU is more reliable, but even there, they are rules of thumb and can't necessarily guide a photographer in specific situations.

The best and only legal advice I will offer, as a working photographer, and a member of the press is if you really want to know the rules and regulations, and law, regarding photography, which could affect your photography, you should consult with an attorney who specializes is this kind of law for each country in which you'll be photographing. It's what I've done and continue to do.

I've seen in these forums generally excellent general advise about photography and the law, but I've also seen important omissions, and some mistakes and overreaching generalizations. In my work I've been threatened with arrest, more than once, concerning my photography while out shooting, and have been threatened with confiscation of my equipment and deletion of my images. It's an extremely stressful situation when that happens. Those are times when a knowledge of photography law is important to have as it helps to direct you in the handling of the situation.

I think photographers should have a reasonably good knowledge of the law of the land for photographers where they are shooting, however, while these forums, and ones like them are likely a reasonably good start in the learning process, they shouldn't and can't be the end. For those who really need and/or desire accurate and comprehensive knowledge of the subject, you're just not going to get it here. That needs to be done with an attorney.

You can take a seminar on the subject, led by a good attorney specializing in this area, or directly consult with an attorney for specific knowledge germane to your situation. I've done both, and continue to do so, as the law is evolving in the US, where I live, and throughout the world.

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

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agitater Gold Member Nikonian since 18th Jan 2007Sun 13-Jan-13 04:43 PM
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#6. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 4


Toronto, CA
          

I agree with Ned. As well, the Wikipedia article contains some information that is inaccurate or incomplete.

There are a couple of things I'd like to add.

I travel, among other reasons, to conduct investigative research on behalf of clients. In advance of any such travel, it's a matter of only a couple of hours of inquiry to obtain the latest information on photography laws, photographers' rights, the latest practices by police and para-military organizations with respect to photographers, and the latest on-the-street information from locals about any changes, improvements, problems and do-not-shoot issues in each destination country and major city. Embassies, consulates and national travel offices provide a wealth of free and usually very accurate information to business and holiday travellers.

Always take the time to contact those sources. What works or applies in the U.S. does not necessarily apply at all anywhere else in the world. What works or applies in Canada does not necessarily apply at all anywhere else in the world. What works or applies in Germany does not necessarily apply at all anywhere else in the world. What works or applies in Brazil does not necessarily apply at all anywhere else in the world. What works or applies in England does not necessarily apply at all anywhere else in the world, and so on, and so on. My point is that it is very easy to obtain the latest information on photographers' rights for your own city or country, but it can be disastrous to assume that any of those rights (or restrictions too, it should be noted) apply anywhere else.

Three years ago, I watched a tourist trying to take photos at one of the DGSE headquarters building complexes in Paris (the buildings are not too far from the famous Père Lachaise Cemetery). The man had been admonished by a DGSE tour guide to not try to take any photos of the security buildings. He continued anyway, with a deprecatory wave. He was then approached by on-duty security officers who politely asked him to stop taking photographs of the DGSE. His french was poor/awful, and the english spoken by the security officers was poor. The tour guide's english was excellent though. The tourist made a fuss, and when one of the security officers took him by the elbow to escort him away from the immediate area, the tourist wrenched his arm out of the officer's grip and started yelling for help. Really. We were all in the area for a scheduled tour of the DGSE, but it had been cancelled when we arrived, so the tourist had started snapping away. The last I saw of the tourist was him being frogmarched out of the area by the two very stern security officers, one of whom was holding the tourist's camera. No idea if the camera was given back to him.

There was nothing to photograph on the outside anyway, and everyone who'd applied for the tour of the DGSE had been warned in advance to keep their cameras in their bags. The tourist thought he could sneak in a few shots anyway. I don't know what he thought he was doing. The outside of the building complex is just old stone walls topped by anti-scaling spikes, barbed wire and razor wire - completely uninteresting.

The immediate area is also barren of coffee shops, restaurants or anything else except government buildings. Boring and ugly - one of a number of such areas in Paris that are not really attractions of any kind for photographers.

Anyone may say what they will about the fact that nothing compromising could possibly be photographed by a casual tourist. The fact remains that the tourist was a moron. When a local security officer of a recognized entity tells you to stop taking photos, do so. The tourist was also lucky. Insistent or resistant foreigners can just as easily find themselves held for a few hours for interrogation, as marched out of the area with a swift kick in the behind.

I've spent some lovely hours being interrogated by security officers in a variety of countries over the years. It's a hazard of investigative research. Got a couple of fading scars to prove it, along with a couple of banishment orders on my passport record. S'okay though - I'm not interested in returning to Uganda or a couple of other places either. The point here is that assumptions about what a security officer might or might not do in some country other than your own, and assumptions about your rights in that country in comparison to your own, and advice on Wikipedia even about photographers' rights in your own country, should all be assiduously avoided.

Above all else when traveling, do as you're told by local authorities and by private security and by docents/guides. Nothing spoils a photography trip or any other sort of vacation like six hours in an interrogation facility, cooling your heels, while traveling companions fret themselves into a dithering panic, and the arresting authority gradually sorts out the fact that they've only got an innocent tourist on their hands.

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Howard Carson

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberSun 13-Jan-13 05:50 PM
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#7. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 6


Philadelphia, US
          

"Above all else when traveling, do as you're told by local authorities and by private security and by docents/guides. Nothing spoils a photography trip or any other sort of vacation like six hours in an interrogation facility, cooling your heels, while traveling companions fret themselves into a dithering panic, and the arresting authority gradually sorts out the fact that they've only got an innocent tourist on their hands."

Well said Howard.

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

-----------------------------
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dagoldst Silver Member Nikonian since 02nd Dec 2012Sun 13-Jan-13 02:32 PM
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#5. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 0


Little Rock, US
          

>In response to an earlier posting about a temple u student
>getting arrested.
>I thought this link might be helpful. It's from your friends
>at the ACLU! Very informative and balanced. Go ahead, hit the
>link Ace.
>
>http://www.aclu.org/free-speech/know-your-rights-photographers

I think a key comment is - "Note that the right to photograph does not give you a right to break any other laws."

David

"Sawed that board three times and it is still too short... "

  

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gkaiseril Gold Member Nikonian since 28th Oct 2005Sun 13-Jan-13 07:22 PM
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#8. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 5


Chicago, US
          

And a direct order from a police official, even if wrong, should be followed and later argued with the appropriate authority like a superior officer or judge. Even when you are later found innocent or not guilty of the original offense, failing to comply with police officer's order or obstructing a police officer in the carrying out of his/her duty is a separate offense and is not predicated upon the original charge.

It is best to remain calm and polite to the police officer and not to make make any movements that could be interpreted as menacing to the officer. That means explaining any movements your will make and make them slowly.



George
My Nikonian Galleries

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberSun 13-Jan-13 10:01 PM
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#9. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 8


Philadelphia, US
          

George, remaining calm and being 110% polite with the police is essential. This is true in every country.

In the US, assuming you are at a public space, if the officer asks for your name, address and date of birth, give it to him/her. If the officer asks for your ID, give it to him/her. If the officer orders you to move back, do it. Keep your hands where the police officer can see them at all times. Never touch a police officer, or make a motion which could be construed that you are about to touch the officer.

If the police officer asks you anything else, such as what you are doing, you should ask the question, "Am I free to go?" You are asking that to preserve your Constitutional Rights, and a well trained police officer will know that. If the officer says, "Yes" you should leave.

If the officer says, "No," you are officially and under the law, being detained, and that's only legal if the officer has a reasonable suspicion that you have, are about to, or are in the process of committing a crime.

If the officer asks what you were doing, state that you have the right to take pictures or video in the public space you are at. If the officer asks to examine your camera, tell the officer that you do not consent to the officer looking through or deleting anything on your camera. Don't engage the officer in any conversation. If the officer reaches or grabs for your camera or your cellular phone, do not resist. Simply repeat that you do not consent to any search or seizure. Don't allow the officer to legitmately charge you for "resisting arrest," by resisting the officer's actions in any way.

At that point, if it were me, if the officer persists in asking questions, I would say, "I'm going to remain silent," after all, the Supreme Court says you should never talk to a police officer without an attorney. Your words can't be held against you if you remain silent. Moreover, if the police officer asks permission to search you, refuse. If the officer didn't need your permission to search you, the officer wouldn't be asking you. Never give permission for a police officer to search you, your car or your home or any of your belongings. If the officer does search you, don't resist and continue saying "I don't consent to this search."

Each of these responses is measured and are to let the officer know, you have an understanding of the law and that you expect to be officer to behave legally.

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

-----------------------------
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Clint S Silver Member Nikonian since 02nd Jan 2011Mon 14-Jan-13 02:06 AM
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#10. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 9


Chula Vista, US
          

Offering legal advice or legal opinions, unless you are licensed to do so, is not a good idea! However I agree it is important to understand what is legal, what is not legal and where gray areas might exist. One avenue to understanding the rights and liabilities of making images is a book written by Attorney at Law, Bert P. Krages, Esq - the "Legal Handbook for Photographers".

As with other sites providing information, there are some less than adequate statements in the post above.

Ned brought up 18 USC 795 as a prohibition - however it is not a prohibition on it is own. You would also need to read Ex. Ord. No. 10104, Feb. 1, 1950 which is not complete either, but does cover every classified restricted, confidential, secret, and top secret area. To find out more you would have to read other Executive Orders as well. Even most military Federal Officers and active personnel are not sure of what can really be photographed without requesting permission or when photography is authorized. And sometimes even when you do have authorization to photograph, it can be problematic!

US and Canada military bases with public events such as air shows and open houses typically allow photography but more and more I'm seeing restictions to lenes no longer than 100mm or a restriction on lenses longer than 3" long.

I whole heartedly disagree with both of the following.

"If the police officer asks you anything else, such as what you are doing, you should ask the question, "Am I free to go?"

and

"If the officer asks what you were doing, state that you have the right to take pictures or video in the public space you are at."

Usually when a LEO or security officer is asking this question they are seeing if they have any further cause for a field interview or other action. And if an uniformed LEO, it is typically the first question I am asked!

So I simply tell them who I am and what I am doing while opening up my billfold to pull out a business card. When I take the business card out and hand them the card I have several IDs that are plainly visible, demonstrating that I am not hiding anything from them. In any country, that has normally taken care of 99.9% of the concerns.

In the US I know that if they are asking for my name or ID that they are now conducting a field investigation!

The last thing I'm going to do is "state that you have the right to take pictures or video in the public space you are at." Actually I would probably never do such a thing. The least that does is to have the LEO believe that you are going to be a PIA and the LEO will respond accordingly, which would probably include more scrutiny through at least a longer field interview.

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agitater Gold Member Nikonian since 18th Jan 2007Mon 14-Jan-13 11:00 AM
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#13. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 10


Toronto, CA
          

Clint - Permit a couple of suggestions based on my own experiences in a variety of third-world countries and more than a few so-called firt-world countries.

>I whole heartedly disagree with both of the following.
>
> "If the police officer asks you anything else, such as
>what you are doing, you should ask the question, "Am I
>free to go?"
>
>and
>
>"If the officer asks what you were doing, state that you
>have the right to take pictures or video in the public space
>you are at."

In the U.S., I agree with Ned. In most situations I've encountered, a simple exercise of rights may momentarily disconcert an authority figure, but then usually results in an order from the authority such as, "On your way!" whereupon the photographer can get out of the location or area. We should never try asserting what we think are our rights in that way when traveling outside our own country.

>Usually when a LEO or security officer is asking this question
>they are seeing if they have any further cause for a field
>interview or other action. And if an uniformed LEO, it is
>typically the first question I am asked!

That is rarely the first question I'm asked on the infrequent occasions when I'm approached by police or security. More often these days it's, "Getting anything good?" After asking that question of most people, the usual response is engagement in conversation during which the officer can determine if the individual is a tourist or professional photographer or a villain. Follow-on questions by the officer such as, "You know, my wife really loves photography and I'm trying to figure out which camera to get her" are designed to determine your camera knowledge, which helps separate punters and tourists from serious photographers and from people who just don't know what they're doing, and from people who get nervous when questioned about something they already know they're doing for nefarious reasons. It's a much more popular question/technique these days, and I'm hearing it more and more at rallies, events, political protests, historic sites, and at or around sensitive areas.

>So I simply tell them who I am and what I am doing while
>opening up my billfold to pull out a business card. When I
>take the business card out and hand them the card I have
>several IDs that are plainly visible, demonstrating that I am
>not hiding anything from them. In any country, that has
>normally taken care of 99.9% of the concerns.

I don't know what countries you're traveling in so I really can't respond insistently. However, I strongly advise anyone traveling outside their home country to never draw a billfold of any kind in front of a police officer. Never offer a business card first. When asked by an officer for ID anywhere outside your home country, the first thing you should reach for is your passport. In an uncomfortably large number of third-world countries and in a number of first-world countries too, an open billfold or wallet is an invitation to have it picked clean, or an invitation to be accused of bribery. Keep your wallet or billfold in your jacket/pants/vest or wherever, and never ever take it out in front of any authority outside your home country. Passport - use your passport for ID. If you're a working photographer or PJ, you already know that you're press credentials are important to have on hand at all times too.

>The last thing I'm going to do is "state that you have
>the right to take pictures or video in the public space you
>are at." Actually I would probably never do such a thing.
>The least that does is to have the LEO believe that you are
>going to be a PIA and the LEO will respond accordingly, which
>would probably include more scrutiny through at least a
>longer field interview.

I disagree. I think that stating your rights, while engaged in photography in your home country, province, state, city or town, is a fundamentally important thing to do in situations where you believe your right to do something lawful is being challenged by an authority. In Canada, where I live, the rights we exercise are the ones we're mostly likely to keep. For U.S. citizens who are confronted by police while anywhere in the U.S. that a visitor or tourist or local would normally find themselves, exercising rights in certain situations is just as fundamentally important.

Nobody every told us that exercising lawful rights wouldn't get uncomfortable from time to time. Hard won rights are like that though - constantly being challenged by authorities who deem photographers, in some situations, to be nuisances who must be shooed away. I'll still stick by my earlier admonishment in this thread, usually to get out when we're told to do so and to stop shooting when we're told to do so. But experienced common sense also has to be a guide, when we're in our home country, to assert that common sense and assert lawful rights when it's appropriate to do so. It's true that asserting such rights in the middle of a protest rally is more likely to get us poked in the chest with a baton than making some panicked cop stop, become pensive and take time to reasonably consider our rights. It's just as true that there's a time and place for everything.

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberMon 14-Jan-13 01:39 PM
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#14. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 13


Philadelphia, US
          

>Clint - Permit a couple of suggestions based on my own
>experiences in a variety of third-world countries and more
>than a few so-called firt-world countries.
>
>>I whole heartedly disagree with both of the following.
>>
>> "If the police officer asks you anything else, such
>as
>>what you are doing, you should ask the question, "Am
>I
>>free to go?"
>>
>>and
>>
>>"If the officer asks what you were doing, state that
>you
>>have the right to take pictures or video in the public
>space
>>you are at."
>
>In the U.S., I agree with Ned.

Indeed, what I wrote in that post is only for the US, where I live. I was very careful to make that clear. I would not follow that tact in any other country of the world.

In fact, in Argentina recently, I took an entirely different tact, although it started pretty much the same. I was photographing a protest parade in Buenos Aires at the time. The officer asked for my ID, in Spanish, of course. I immediately complied, and gave him my US passport with reciprocity certificate and journalist visa. He then asked for my name and birth date, I assume to compare to the passport, to see if it was really me. He asked why I was photographing the parade. I explained who I was (He hadn't looked past the passport's ID page, so didn't see my visa at that point (Tourists from the US need no visa.).) and what I was doing, and that I was only there a short time, as I was leaving soon for Antarctica, out of Ushuaia, on vacation. He said he hoped I got some great shots and asked if I would take his photo with the parade in the background. Of course I complied, and then we said "Hasta la vista," to each other.

>In most situations I've
>encountered, a simple exercise of rights may momentarily
>disconcert an authority figure, but then usually results in an
>order from the authority such as, "On your way!"
>whereupon the photographer can get out of the location or
>area. We should never try asserting what we think are our
>rights in that way when traveling outside our own country.

I have been detained, I think, four times now, in the US, for a short time only, by police, for taking photographs (I don't normally do any video, so audio recording isn't a problem for me. Recognize that many states in the US have laws which currently equate the audio when making a video with "wire tapping." I'm not saying these laws are right or constitutional, or that making a video in public is wire tapping, only that some states equate it with wire tapping under their laws.). I've not be arrested thus far. In each case, after showing my ID, I asked the question about being free to go and was told no. Every other time I was told sure, but I just wanted to know what you were doing. In those cases I retorted, "Just taking some nice photos," as I walked away, and gave a wave.

In each case when detained, I was asked immediately to give the officer my camera. I answered the request by stating in a folksy way that I had the right to take pictures in this public space. In each case the officer was definitely dumbfounded (Some would save taken aback.) and fumbled with what to do next. In all but one case they then said something like, "Er, uh, well okay, but you might get into trouble taking these photos some day, but go ahead, you're right."

The one case was a bit different. I was on Amtrak property in Florida and detained by an Amtrak security officer who showed me her badge. In her case my tact was different. When she said to show her my ID I did that and also showed her my ticket. After she gave it back to me I asked if I was free to go. She said no, quite emphatically and explained that the Federal Railway Act prohibited taking photos of Amtrak rolling stock. It doesn't. I was prepared and showed her a print out from Amtrak's website that said any passenger may take photographs of any station or equipment from Amtrak locations open to their passengers, as long as they had a ticket. I was taking photos from the main station platform. She told me that wasn't Amtrak's policy and that I was violating Federal Law, and if I didn't stop (She was now holding a set of handcuffs in her hand,) she'd arrest me. I asked if I could go, and she said only if I put down my camera, which I did at the time. She left, and I resumed. Another Amtrak security officer came up to me and I thought, "Oh no, here we go again." This time it was different. He just wanted to ask if I'd take his photo and email him a copy. I did. We had a delightful conversation.

I've been stopped by police officers in about 15 countries for taking photographs from public spaces, of all kinds of things and people. After showing my ID and answering an ID question or two, if asked, they normally ask if I'm getting good photos. Some of the officers have given me tips on the best local places to get great shots. This was true even in Russia a few years ago, and in Communist Yugoslavia before the Iron Curtain fell. I've found that in most countries, as long as you're smart about the photos you're taking, (no photos of military installations, no photos of soldiers or police officers unless you've asked permission, no photos where signage says no photos) you get no trouble when taking photos while standing on public land. It seems that the world isn't nearly as paranoid about photography as the US.

I should note that in countries in which I'm working, I have a journalist visa which gives me better access and more latitude for taking photos, than being there as a tourist, but even when strictly a tourist I've rarely had anything more than a very pleasant experience with police officers.

>>Usually when a LEO or security officer is asking this
>question
>>they are seeing if they have any further cause for a
>field
>>interview or other action. And if an uniformed LEO, it is
>>typically the first question I am asked!
>
>That is rarely the first question I'm asked on the infrequent
>occasions when I'm approached by police or security.

Agreed.

>More often these days it's, "Getting anything good?"
>After asking that question of most people, the usual response
>is engagement in conversation during which the officer can
>determine if the individual is a tourist or professional
>photographer or a villain. Follow-on questions by the officer
>such as, "You know, my wife really loves photography and
>I'm trying to figure out which camera to get her" are
>designed to determine your camera knowledge, which helps
>separate punters and tourists from serious photographers and
>from people who just don't know what they're doing, and from
>people who get nervous when questioned about something they
>already know they're doing for nefarious reasons. It's a much
>more popular question/technique these days, and I'm hearing it
>more and more at rallies, events, political protests, historic
>sites, and at or around sensitive areas.

Yes!

>>So I simply tell them who I am and what I am doing while
>>opening up my billfold to pull out a business card. When
>I
>>take the business card out and hand them the card I have
>>several IDs that are plainly visible, demonstrating that I
>am
>>not hiding anything from them. In any country, that has
>>normally taken care of 99.9% of the concerns.
>
>I don't know what countries you're traveling in so I really
>can't respond insistently. However, I strongly advise anyone
>traveling outside their home country to never draw a
>billfold of any kind in front of a police officer. Never offer
>a business card first. When asked by an officer for ID
>anywhere outside your home country, the first thing you should
>reach for is your passport. In an uncomfortably large
>number of third-world countries and in a number of first-world
>countries too, an open billfold or wallet is an invitation to
>have it picked clean, or an invitation to be accused of
>bribery. Keep your wallet or billfold in your
>jacket/pants/vest or wherever, and never ever take it out in
>front of any authority outside your home country. Passport -
>use your passport for ID. If you're a working photographer or
>PJ, you already know that you're press credentials are
>important to have on hand at all times too.

Absolutely about the wallet. I keep my business cards and journalist credentials separate from my wallet, in large part for this very reason.

>>The last thing I'm going to do is "state that you
>have
>>the right to take pictures or video in the public space
>you
>>are at." Actually I would probably never do such a
>thing.
>>The least that does is to have the LEO believe that you
>are
>>going to be a PIA and the LEO will respond accordingly,
>which
>>would probably include more scrutiny through at least a
>>longer field interview.
>
>I disagree. I think that stating your rights, while engaged in
>photography in your home country, province, state, city or
>town, is a fundamentally important thing to do in situations
>where you believe your right to do something lawful is being
>challenged by an authority. In Canada, where I live, the
>rights we exercise are the ones we're mostly likely to
>keep.
For U.S. citizens who are confronted by police
>while anywhere in the U.S. that a visitor or tourist or local
>would normally find themselves, exercising rights in certain
>situations is just as fundamentally important.
>
>Nobody every told us that exercising lawful rights wouldn't
>get uncomfortable from time to time. Hard won rights are like
>that though - constantly being challenged by authorities who
>deem photographers, in some situations, to be nuisances who
>must be shooed away. I'll still stick by my earlier
>admonishment in this thread, usually to get out when we're
>told to do so and to stop shooting when we're told to do so.
>But experienced common sense also has to be a guide, when
>we're in our home country, to assert that common sense and
>assert lawful rights when it's appropriate to do so. It's true
>that asserting such rights in the middle of a protest rally is
>more likely to get us poked in the chest with a baton than
>making some panicked cop stop, become pensive and take time to
>reasonably consider our rights. It's just as true that there's
>a time and place for everything.
>

Great post Howard.

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

-----------------------------
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Clint S Silver Member Nikonian since 02nd Jan 2011Tue 15-Jan-13 05:49 AM
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#17. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 14


Chula Vista, US
          

Howard and Ned, for the most part I think we pretty much agree except for one area.

I totally agree with the comments about a billfold with cash, never a good idea. I learned that lesson over 30 years ago in Mexico. When I pulled out my billfold the Federales side of the conversation started with - Are you trying to bribe us amigo? With one quick grab the Federales left me with 3 bucks and told me to get outta there!

When traveling outside the US I've been using an All ETT Traveler Wallet for so long that I didn't even think about it when I posted. This travelers wallet has my passport, a couple of credit/ID cards, and business cards, both mine and the people's business cards I'm supposed to contact in the area. The top cards/passport are pretty plain to see unlike most billfolds and there is no cash. My receipts go where the bills go in this wallet, NO CASH. While in the states I carry an ALL ETT's original wallet which when opened are three ID cards and my business cards . Again no cash and receipts/ notes go where the bills would go.

So if I am not asked specifically for an ID up front, and they want to know what I am doing taking photos or why I am where I'm at, they will get an honest answer and a business card. If asked for my name or ID, that is what they get (passport in foreign countries). And I've found in most foreign countries they are more straight to the point and will ask for a passport or ID upfront.

The wallets I carry I do think makes a difference. Whether I open it up for my passport, ID, or business card it does not leave much doubt that I'm not trying to hide anything.

I've found on most occasions when an officer (foreign or in the US) or Homeland Security Officer (in the US) ask if I'm getting good shots, ask if I'm having a good time, what I think about an event, etc. they are just trying to be friendly, maybe a photographer themselves, or have some other interest which is typically that they want a photo of themselves.

Sometimes it helps to be friendly, yet mindful. I've met a couple of good acquaintances and friends from those casual conversations. Last December I was shooting in a normally restricted area on a military installation and security officers of both the base and Homeland Security, which I had previously met, escorted me into areas that I was not originally authorized to photograph from! Maybe they are asking for professional reasons to begin with but that has not been what I felt.

Yet if a LEO ask what am I doing, or what I'm doing in the area, etc. - I know they think they have a reason. So I try to ally all fears and be quite honest. That usually leads to small talk, maybe a short conversation and then I continue on.

But if they ask for a name or ID - the situation has changed to a field interview. At this stage I only directly answer the questions and I do not want to say anything that would escalate the situation. Depending on how that goes they will either tell me to have a great day in which case I finish what I am doing. Or if it last what I consider an uncomfortable amount of time, I'll ask if I'm free to go. If they say yes, I'm more than likely outta there unless they imply that I can continue what I was doing.

Other things I get are - Do you have permission to shoot here? Or- Photography is not allowed here. Which I handle in due course - showing them a letter of authorization if I have one. If not I say thanks for letting me know while packing up and then leaving, unless, and only in the US I might take it further.

The most flagrant I've run into over the years are Transportation Security Officers telling me photography was not allowed in places like New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, LA, Oakland and San Diego. And these became 10 - 60 minutes of wasted time. So I changed my tactics.

I had an incident early last year that was headed the wrong direction, the officer wanted my camera and cards. I stated that he would need a warrant or provide me with a custody receipt. The situation would have escalated except the officer's supervisor stepped in.

So now my personal policy is when photographing any mass transit station or vehicle, I call the main office before hand to let them know I will be photographing , the time frame and the location. I've done this twice, offered a letter of indemnification, and it has worked well.

My comments about the "I have the right to …" is based on the frequent run ins with the law in my youth, a few years as a Reserve Police Officer, my military career, and the LEO friends I have. It will not make things go easier, maybe more precautionary on the LEO's side, which also means more time consuming and wasted time. I can exercise my rights without being flagrant about it. And if warranted, a letter to the local agency about the overzealous behavior does get attention.

So on blatantly stating our rights (which I was prone to do as a youngster) we disagree, which is fine - but I think more importantly we agree that we did or will do something to make sure our rights are not trampled on! I think too many just give in. Also agree that there is a time and place for everything.


Thanks for the great conversation!

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richardd300 Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Apr 2009Tue 15-Jan-13 07:17 AM
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#18. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 17
Tue 15-Jan-13 07:19 AM by richardd300

Dyserth, GB
          

The UK has relatively liberal laws regarding photography (many would disagree) compared with many countries. Although there are some exceptions, the key principle is that you can photograph whoever and whatever you want, without needing permission, providing you are on public property.

The biggest problem photographers face is the ignorance on behalf of public officials (police officers, Community Support Officers and (especially) private security guards), the owners of property and subjects. Very few officials understand the law and there are plenty of examples of photographers being told by police and community support officers that they are not allowed to take pictures, when in fact they are perfectly within their rights. I am one of many who have been fallen foul of this ignorance of the law.

By far the biggest problem in the UK is when children are involved, often to a point of almost paranoia. Many parents, teachers and even local authorities are of the opinion that a photographer requires their permission to take photographs of their children. There are cases where photographers have been denied permission to take photographs of their own children at football matches, by other parents with children in the game.

This is particularly relevant to me. I undertake photography for a junior local football team, but only goal mouth or practice sessions for that club only. This is because in the UK all persons working or involved with under 18's have to be CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) certified. So, I am not allowed to photograph a game in play as it would involve images of the opposing team and I have no legal permission to do that. Recently I was taking photographs at a local fund raising day where there was a brass band. Amongst the players was a 16 year old girl. Her father approached me and asked me not to take photographs. In this instance I refuse to obey and quoted the law. He was not pleased!

So,evidently we in the UK have relatively liberal laws regarding photography. This is true, it's the interpretation of the law and peoples paranoia that get in the way.

I always am amazed and slightly envious to see folks posting sport events involving children on this forum, but envy the country and in particular the parents involved for having a sensible approach. If we can't record our children's progress it's a very sad world.

Richard

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Visit my website www.pixels4u.co.uk
The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. Einstein

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberTue 15-Jan-13 01:11 PM
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#19. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 17


Philadelphia, US
          

Clint, it's off the main subject here, and I don't want to hijack the thread, but you said, "When traveling outside the US I've been using an All ETT Traveler Wallet for so long that I didn't even think about it when I posted. This travelers wallet has my passport, a couple of credit/ID cards, and business cards, both mine and the people's business cards I'm supposed to contact in the area. The top cards/passport are pretty plain to see unlike most billfolds and there is no cash. My receipts go where the bills go in this wallet, NO CASH."

This immediately struck me, as it is very much the opposite of what I do, when traveling outside the US, and opposite the advice I've given in my weekly column on travel.

The principle of my practice, with regard to these important items which we all carry on our person while traveling ...


  • passport
  • cash
  • credit cards
  • ID information (cards)
  • business cards
  • receipts of the day
  • tickets
  • etc., as I'm sure I've forgotten something as I write this morning (LOL)

is to make it as hard for a thief/pickpocket to get more than one thing, if they find me, as possible. Moreover, I store my things in pockets, according to their importance to my travels, and the difficulty in replacing the items, with front pants pockets getting the more valuable items as it's harder to pickpocket front than back pockets. If I'm wearing a jacket with an inside pocket, that's safer yet, especially if it's zippered. Zippered pockets are more secure than buttoned or Velcro'd or open pockets. A money belt is a good idea, but I find them terribly uncomfortable.

The major rule of thumb, however, is to never keep my passport, credit cards, and ID information together.

The passport and credit cards are the most difficult to replace in terms of time, while traveling, and their loss, can therefore play havoc with ones itinerary, and more important with one's "identity." While ID informational cards/business cards are the easiest to replace, having an outsider get a hold of that information along with your credit cards, can be seriously problematical, as can loosing more than a day's receipts (Yes, believe it or not, I've heard from travelers who carry around all the receipts of their trip with them during their entire trip.)

If somehow a pickpocket gets that wallet of yours they immediately have your passport, credit cards and your ID information. Right there that spells "Identity Theft" to me.

While traveling, I usually wear cargo pants (Unless out for dinner at a fancy restaurant, etc.) with a front pocket which has an extra zippered pocket in it, which enables me to better separate what most people keep in a wallet, but for this explanation, I'll use a standard pair of pants.

I'll keep my credit/debit cards (never more than three, normally two, while out and about) in a front pocket. In the other front pocket is my passport and my ID cards (By ID cards I mean useful membership cards such as for museums which have agreements with the ones at home, medical insurance cards, and my driver's license, if I'm driving while away from home, etc. Of special note for older US residents traveling outside the country is to leave the Medicare card (which has one's Social Security number on it), at home. Medicare doesn't cover any medical expenses while out of the US. In a back pocket is my cash (Usually not much as it's easy to replenish with an ATM card, on most but not all trips.) In the other back pocket is everything else. Contact information, such as for those I'm going to visit in in my cell phone. On a couple trips I kept my passport in a neck wallet, but I found that too uncomfortable to continue that practice.

I'll keep other credit/debit cards in the room safe, along with older receipts, and extra cash, home keys, backup ID, etc. I used to travel with a color copy of my passport, so in case of it being stolen, I had that, which among other things would make it easier to get a Passport replacement while traveling, but now I keep a scanned copy of my passport in an encrypted file in my smartphone, and in the "cloud" which can retrieved via the Internet if needed. I also keep a copy of every travel document I need for a trip in my smartphone and in the "cloud."

With regard to receipts, each night I use my smartphone or tablet, to scan them. They are then stored in the "cloud" for later retrieval if necessary. If they were for anything but merchandise purchases, which might necessitate a return for refund, before leaving an area, I destroy the receipt, as I can bring up the scanned receipt on my phone screen, or my computer screen, if necessary. Eventually I destroy the paper merchandise receipts too.

Before leaving home, I've stripped my wallet of everything I won't be using while away.

I'm sure I've forgotten something this morning, but you get the idea.

I hope you'll consider modifying your wallet practices.

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

-----------------------------
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agitater Gold Member Nikonian since 18th Jan 2007Tue 15-Jan-13 02:23 PM
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#20. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 19


Toronto, CA
          

Ned - bang on.

I travel often enough, like you I think in some respects, that I have a separate trio of credit cards that I use exclusively for travel. I book flights, hotels and carry the trio with me while I'm traveling. Each card issuer gets a call from me a few days prior to a departure date so that I can provide the issuers with a travel notice. I've been using the same set of travel-only cards for decades.

Like you, I keep nothing in a back pocket or front jacket pocket. Passport is always separate and kept in an inside, velcro'd vest pocket. Cash is also in an inside, different, velcro'd vest pocket. Credit cards (two of them anyway) are stowed in a front cargo pants pocket. Other ID, money and whatnot I keep in other places.

I've known a number of people who simply grab their wallet or purse normally used at home, with everything in it including the local supermarket points card, and stuff it into a back pants pocket or jacket pocket when they leave on a trip. Rarer these days I think, but it still happens. Not to be imitated.

I also travel with a couple of membership cards - English Heritage Society (free access to many historic sites), CAA/AAA membership (discounts from cooperating countries/companies on car and motorcycle rentals), Musee d'Orsay membership card if I'm going to be in France.

At a cafe in a seedy-ish area of Marseille about ten years ago, I was sitting at a sidewalk table reading a book and lost in thought one night. I was in the area to do some research, I had finished some interviews earlier in the evening near Gare Saint-Charles - I think it was on rue Longue des Capucins. Two salty looking dudes ambled up, sat down, and demanded cash and cards. So I handed them the separate little card carrier containing three membership cards and a few euros folded and stuffed into an empty slot (for audio guides, a snack at a museum cafe, etc.). I feigned sadness and whispered, "Il est tout que j'ai." Whereupon they scowled and stalked off with the little card carrier. Idiots. The cafe owner knew the two as locals, came out to to inquire if I was okay. I told him I was fine, but that "les deux clowns" might be back after discovering the contents of the card carrier. So he called the police who pinched the two dummies when they returned looking for me. Got my membership cards back on the spot (but not the thirty euros). I'm still laughing about it.

If it had been real credit cards, the two idiots would have been pinched just the same, but the astonishingly corrupt Marseille police would likely have kept them for themselves and claimed that les miscreants had already dumped everything.

I agree. Always keep things separated while traveling.

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Howard Carson

  

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Clint S Silver Member Nikonian since 02nd Jan 2011Wed 16-Jan-13 04:47 AM
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#26. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 20


Chula Vista, US
          

For traveling overseas - I used to keep things in different places, cept I might leave a jacket hanging on chair for few minutes and other things like that. Bad mistake. And I used to carry personal credit cards with me, til I got pick pocketed. These were also in the days I drank (think like a Sailor)! Another not so good thing to do when traveling. Surprisingly I was only ripped off a couple of times.

I'm also cautious/aware of where I go (lots easier to do since the mid 80s when quit drinking), and go into seedy areas prepared, like Patpong in Bangkok, which my preparation is totally different than I'm describing. I always have backup plans. What keeps me out of trouble most of the time is situational awareness - knowing where the risk are.

The most important things usually stay in a hotel safe, depends on country and hotel. The items that I carry can be easily replaced, and often I might carry a copy of my passport vice the passport. Typically the debit, credit cards, ID, will be company cards are in one pocket with the passport or copy. Sometimes the ID was an International Drivers License. I keep my cash in the other front pocket in a semi-wallet money clip, minimum cash with a secondary card and if the hotel has a key card it goes there to. I think minimizing what you carry is important.

What's back in the safe will tide me over till I can get a new passport if needed, which has not happened yet. But I have less to worry about as I am traveling much less.

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gkaiseril Gold Member Nikonian since 28th Oct 2005Mon 14-Jan-13 02:26 PM
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#15. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 10


Chicago, US
          

All good points.

I only commented about how to not escalate a possibly bad situation.

The only other thing I would add is do not say a lot of things and do not be very specific like "I have the right..." because it is possible that there maybe a sign imposing a temporary restriction because of a special event. I would say "I believe I am in a public space and I believe I can take pictures of the public space. I did not see any signs that I could not take pictures." This allows for the possibility that you may have missed a notice or other reason for the confusion.

Keep track of what you say and try not to agree to any statement the police offers.

How many remember the Martha Stewart "Insider Stock Trading". It was never proved and she was not found guilty of insider trading. She just talked to much and made contradictory statements to federal agents, ImClone stock trading case.

If possible write down when possible. It might be helpful is you need an attorney.

When the police officer reads your your rights, remember "you have the right to remain silent." and it is very good advise.

George
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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberMon 14-Jan-13 04:06 PM
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#16. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 15


Philadelphia, US
          

Hi George,

You said, "Keep track of what you say and try not to agree to any statement the police offers."

I agree, and this is exactly why I believe you essentially say nothing to the police. You don't volunteer information, nor chit-chat. If you say essentially nothing then the police can't trap you with your own words. That has been consistently my advice in the US for those of us living in the US. The only things I say are what is necessary with regard to my identification, and to maintain my rights as a citizen (same for permanent residents).

Frankly, other than give my ID information, and maintain my rights, if a US police officer detains me for long, and/or beyond my photography shooting location, I will be clear that I want an attorney before saying more.

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

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dagoldst Silver Member Nikonian since 02nd Dec 2012Tue 15-Jan-13 07:33 PM
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#22. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 16


Little Rock, US
          


>
>Frankly, other than give my ID information, and maintain my
>rights, if a US police officer detains me for long, and/or
>beyond my photography shooting location, I will be clear that
>I want an attorney before saying more.
>

I completely agree - I am not there to help a cop make a case against me.

David

"Sawed that board three times and it is still too short... "

  

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dagoldst Silver Member Nikonian since 02nd Dec 2012Tue 15-Jan-13 07:12 PM
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#21. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 10
Tue 15-Jan-13 07:31 PM by dagoldst

Little Rock, US
          

>Usually when a LEO or security officer is asking this question they are seeing if they have any further cause for a field interview or other action. And if an uniformed LEO, it is typically the first question I am asked!


So, as a former police officer, I seem to recall that in the U.S., at the moment the officer begins questioning you, you are technically under arrest - he is NOT required to tell you that you are under arrest.

That is the absolute best reason for asking if you can go - to obtain from the officer what his intent is. If you do not ask and you answer questions while under arrest, the officer should make you aware of your rights. If he is simply wondering if a crime has been committed, and if it is a misdemeanor, your answers are not required or even admissible as evidence, he must witness the crime with one of his 5 senses to file a charge. If it is a felony the officer thinks he is observing, you do NOT want to start answer questions without an attorney.

IMO, one should stick with asking only if you can go. If the officer says no, then ask what you are being detained for and I would go so far as to say, "Is this a misdemeanor or a felony?" and then act accordingly - which is to say nothing.

Just a perspective...

David

"Sawed that board three times and it is still too short... "

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberTue 15-Jan-13 10:10 PM
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#23. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 21


Philadelphia, US
          

David, I spoke to a policeman, who I know, after reading your post, and he doesn't agree with your premise concerning questioning meaning you're technically under arrest. He told me, after I read him your post, that when a police officer decides to question someone, that action falls under one of three areas: contact, detention, or arrest.

With contact, it has to be consensual because the police officer hasn't enough suspicion of any wrong-doing, but is curious, so decides to ask some questions by saying something like, "May I ask you a few questions?" He said we have the right to refuse to answer, and walk away, and that the refusal and walking away doesn't give the officer reasonable suspicion, so just by the act of refusing to answer questions and walking away, the officer can't detain you.

He further said that if he was taking photos and knew he was doing nothing wrong, and a police officer interrupted him and started asking questions, he would ask if he was free to go, and if told yes, would walk away.

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

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dagoldst Silver Member Nikonian since 02nd Dec 2012Wed 16-Jan-13 01:44 AM
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#24. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 23


Little Rock, US
          

>David, I spoke to a policeman, who I know, after reading your
>post, and he doesn't agree with your premise concerning
>questioning meaning you're technically under arrest. He told
>me, after I read him your post, that when a police officer
>decides to question someone, that action falls under one of
>three areas: contact, detention, or arrest.
>
Ned,

When I was in the Oklahoma City police academy, the Oklahoma County District Attorney is the one that gave us a lecture on the arrest powers of a police officer. He is the one that advised that anytime a police officer detains you, you are technically under arrest and not free to leave.

From a personal perspective, I frequently handcuffed and took people into custody without ever saying, "You are under arrest." It was never even an issue in a court case.


David

"Sawed that board three times and it is still too short... "

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberWed 16-Jan-13 02:56 AM
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#25. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 24


Philadelphia, US
          

Hi,

It is my understanding that detention is a whole different animal from initial "contact." Detention, the second of the three action areas I mentioned, is non-consensual, and a temporary denial of liberty, but a police officer must have "reasonable suspicion" to detain someone. One could say that detention means the person is "technically" under arrest, but according to my best friend, an attorney, at least in PA and NJ it isn't really an arrest.

As far as having to say, "You're under arrest," when making an arrest, it is my understanding that it doesn't have to be announced in some states, but must be announced in other states. Moreover, it is my understanding that nationally, at the time of arrest, it is not required to inform the person arrested why they've been arrested, nor is it required to state their "Miranda Rights," at the time of arrest.

Moreover, it's my understanding that the police must advise suspects of their "Miranda Rights" only prior to conducting a custodial (i.e. they are under arrest) interrogation. I believe that in PA, with regard to detention, not arrest, for example, if you ask, "Are you free to leave," and told "no" by the police, any evidence from questioning you, without first reading you your rights will be inadmissible in court. I don't know if it's the same in your state.

Ned
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Clint S Silver Member Nikonian since 02nd Jan 2011Wed 16-Jan-13 05:35 AM
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#27. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 21


Chula Vista, US
          

For police I'd call it three steps before arrest. Contact, field interview, detainment, arrest. Detention usually means you will be locked up in some sort of fashion so it is significantly and legally different than detainment. I'm sure there are different words used throughout the US for the same things.

Contact is simple casual conversation, a field interview moves into an area where information collected might be in a report and the subject still has the right to leave and does not have answer. From here it to a detainment is a fine line and often hard to clarify when the officer feels they have reasonable suspicion for a detainment. If you're being detained you probably will not be allowed to leave until the officer feels there is no reasonable cause or suspicion for further action, but you are still not under arrest.

Under the right circumstances an officer can detain an individual, take a subject in for their own safety or questioning, yet still not be under arrest.

Visit my Nikonians gallery - my Spare Time gallery

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberWed 16-Jan-13 10:03 AM
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#28. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 27


Philadelphia, US
          

Clint, legally, whether the police officer will write a report or not isn't germane. If you can leave, law enforcement officials, according to my friends the police officer and lawyer, term it contact. If you're detained, it means you're not free to leave, but it's for a relatively short temporary period while the police officer sizes up the situation. To detain someone there already has to be reasonable suspicion.

You said, "If you're being detained you probably will not be allowed to leave until the officer feels there is no reasonable cause or suspicion for further action, but you are still not under arrest."

Legal terms have more precision.

There is no term named "reasonable cause." There is a term named, "probable cause." In the US, probable cause is the standard by which a police officer has the grounds to make an arrest, conduct a personal and/or property search, or obtain a warrant for arrest, when criminal charges are being considered. It also refers to the standard to which grand juries believe a crime has been committed. This term comes from the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

If you're being detained it's you can't leave, not you probably can't leave. There already has to be reasonable suspicion to detain someone. Without reasonable suspicion the officer can't detain anyone. At that point, it is true, you're not under arrest.

In the US, reasonable suspicion is a legal standard of proof which is less than probable cause, but more than an incipient, non-specific suspicion or hunch. Reasonable suspicion must be based on "specific and articulable facts."

All this refers to the US.

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

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jbloom Gold Member Awarded for the continuous and generous sharing of his high level expertise and his always encouraging comments in several forums. Nikonian since 15th Jul 2004Wed 16-Jan-13 12:51 PM
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#29. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 28


Wethersfield, US
          

What I find disturbing in this entire thread is that there is little recognition that for the most part, LEO are trying to do a difficult job, and that we all have a moral obligation to help them when we can do so.

I realize that abuses occur, and I'll be in the forefront of protesting those. But I'm talking about how we react to officers who are simply trying to do the job that we, the public, have asked them to do to protect us.

Now, certainly there are some situations where confrontation is likely, such as photographing a street protest. It's not unreasonable to approach such situations with a heightened sense of awareness that you may have to assert your rights. But in the general case, don't we all have a public interest in helping law enforcement separate the wheat from the chaff? If every citizen's only response to any question by the police is, "am I free to go?" it will only make it more difficult for police and will, in the long run, lead to more public restrictions, not fewer.

For example, one day some years ago I took my new AF-S 300 f/4 lens to a public parking lot near the airport and was using the low-flying planes as practice to see how well the camera and lens would track moving objects. An airport policeman stopped to ask what I was doing. I told her exactly what I was doing, and she went on her way. Now, suppose I had refused to answer. I would have been on solid legal ground, I suspect, but what of my moral obligation as a citizen to assist police when I can do so? Is there no such thing? I think there is.

And there is a practical side, too. If authorities are unable to find out why people are taking photos in a place like that, the natural response is to prohibit the taking of photos there at all, for good reasons or not. Do we really need to add to the motivation to further restrict our rights? Yes, we have a Constitutional right to take photos in public, but it's not absolute. It can be abridged when public safety requires it, and making it difficult for those charged with detecting criminal behavior only means that public safety may require further abridgement of the right.

I guess what it comes down to is that we have not only rights but also responsibilities, and I'd like to see a little more acknowledgement of that from some of the people here who seem to feel that police are the enemies of the people.

-- Jon
Wethersfield, CT, USA
Connecticut High School Sports Photos

  

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agitater Gold Member Nikonian since 18th Jan 2007Wed 16-Jan-13 02:11 PM
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#30. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 29


Toronto, CA
          

>I guess what it comes down to is that we have not only rights
>but also responsibilities, and I'd like to see a little
>more acknowledgement of that from some of the people here who
>seem to feel that police are the enemies of the people.

I respect your attitude. Many of us, in a variety of countries, support law and order as it's managed now, and expend considerable effort to practice lawful conduct while pursuing photography no matter what country we happen to be in.

I think that my basic contribution in this thread has been the promotion of a peaceful approach to interactions with law enforcement. The problems with that approach arise when I'm confronted sternly by law enforcement officers who've lost any semblance of civility and simply try to order me out of an area or a situation in which every local law, tenet, practice and argument says I can photograph something. I have to use enough common sense to know when to simply move on (because the police or security officer is in no mood for resistance lawful or otherwise), and when to stand my ground to get a shot. I don't advocate that any common photography tourists stand their ground just to get some snapshot, because doing so can ruin a vacation in an awful hurry. But for some of us engaged in professional photography, research photography and other forms of photography from which we earn all or part of our living, there are somewhat regular encounters which take place in which patrol cops, security guards, beat cops, undercover cops, security agencies and other authorities clearly have it wrong.

I understand, and so do people such as Ned and Clint and other Nikonians, that your point is valid and that in general we must not make ourselves into obstacles that stymie authorities as they proceed with their legitimate work. But what's most germane to your point, I think, is that too often some local authority simply lashes out, usually verbally, in an attempt to hustle a photographer out of an area simply because the authority is momentarily irritated by the presence of the photographer. I don't put up with that kind of attitude from friends, relatives or business associates or even clients, and I'm certainly not going to put up with some ill-tempered beat cop who doesn't know his butt from his elbow when it comes to lawful photography. Again, common sense must rule the situation. I think if anything is clear in this thread, in this regard, it's that even bona fide law enforcement officers disagree on what constitutes detainment, arrest status, and various other procedural definitions. That's just as true in Toronto or Philadelphia as it is in Podunk, London, Brisbane, Tokyo, Moscow or Praetoria. In principle, police on the street have lattitude in the enforcement and interpretation of some statutes, and we're seeing how that lattitude manifests itself in the various expressed definitions here (by police officers).

The police, at least in various jurisdictions in North America, have gradually become paramilitary organizations. They're subject to the same budgetary constraints, corruptions, problems and inconsistencies as every other loosely associated group of confederations. They employ different standards from region to region within our respective national boundaries. My point is that I generally have great respect for the often difficult work the police do, and I worry about the harm that may come to the best of them. But I do not ever trust the police because of the inherent problems that have always existed in paramilitary organizations: faltering discipline, lack of standards, and inconsistent understanding and application of local and national laws in any such organizations which present themselves as paramilitary but which do no boast the inherent structure and strict discipline of true military organizations.

I do not want the police to evolve into a military force - that is the worst of all possible outcomes in my opinion. I am only adddressing the idea that if we're stuck with the inconsistent and flawed system we've got now, the police at many turns have to be challenged over their knowledge and their conduct. The more often we do that, as citizens of our respective countries, the more often that policing agencies will be confronted about stupid and needless actions against photographers lawfully plying their interests. Positive change will occur as a result.

There have never before in history been so many photographers wandering around loose on the streets snapping away at everything in sight. Lawful conduct is at issue, privacy invasions are at issue, property rights are at issue, trademark and copyrights are at issue. The police, as currently organized in most jurisdictions in the countries in which I regularly travel, are poorly trained in all this. After all, they've got real villains, public safety, and other matters to deal with. Moreover, the police in most of the places I travel are too few in number for their commanders to spare any for education in the matters we're discussing here. Something has to give way, and I suspect that it will begin with photographers who've taken the time to inform themselves and stand their ground in certain situations who will force the implementation of more knowledgeable policing.

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Howard Carson

  

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jbloom Gold Member Awarded for the continuous and generous sharing of his high level expertise and his always encouraging comments in several forums. Nikonian since 15th Jul 2004Wed 16-Jan-13 02:45 PM
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#31. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 30


Wethersfield, US
          

Howard, I do understand that police have limited knowledge of the intricacies of the law. They, the police, also understand that. Yet they are charged with applying the law on a case-by-case basis. I'm not suggesting that we as citizens should supinely go along with whatever any police officer says regardless of circumstance. But I do think we -- citizens and police alike -- need to understand that we are all in a common society, and that while none of us is flawless, starting each interaction by giving the benefit of the doubt will serve us all best.

Remember that the focus of most police in general is on public safety. Once they determine that you are not posing a threat to public safety, for the most part they don't care what pictures you take. It's the unwillingness of some posters to help the police make that determination by being forthcoming that I find troubling.

"I am only adddressing the idea that if we're stuck with the inconsistent and flawed system we've got now, the police at many turns have to be challenged over their knowledge and their conduct. The more often we do that, as citizens of our respective countries, the more often that policing agencies will be confronted about stupid and needless actions against photographers lawfully plying their interests. Positive change will occur as a result."

Maybe positive change will occur. It depends on how it is done. One sure result of constantly challenging police in the performance of their duty will be to foster the "us against them" mentality that is all too common on both sides. If that gets to be more pervasive, the result will not be a positive one and will only tend to promote the retreat of police organizations into insular, defensive frames of mind. The more that police officers are treated as part of the community rather than as a stand-apart class of people, the more likely that their approach to citizens will be as peers rather than as suspects.

Again, that doesn't mean silently giving up our rights. What it does mean, I believe, is that we should protect our rights when they are infringed upon and not assume infringement where none is present or intended. Refusing to even talk to the police is less an aid to protecting our rights than it is a path to further eroding them.

-- Jon
Wethersfield, CT, USA
Connecticut High School Sports Photos

  

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agitater Gold Member Nikonian since 18th Jan 2007Wed 16-Jan-13 04:02 PM
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#33. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 31


Toronto, CA
          

>Howard, I do understand that police have limited knowledge of
>the intricacies of the law. They, the police, also understand
>that. Yet they are charged with applying the law on a
>case-by-case basis. I'm not suggesting that we as citizens
>should supinely go along with whatever any police officer says
>regardless of circumstance. But I do think we -- citizens and
>police alike -- need to understand that we are all in a common
>society, and that while none of us is flawless, starting each
>interaction by giving the benefit of the doubt will serve us
>all best.

I agree . . . in some countries and regions within Canada, the UK and much of western Europe, Oceania mostly.

>Remember that the focus of most police in general is on public
>safety. Once they determine that you are not posing a threat
>to public safety, for the most part they don't care what
>pictures you take. It's the unwillingness of some posters to
>help the police make that determination by being forthcoming
>that I find troubling.

I agree mainly that the stated intent of most police in general is a focus on public safety. I disagree that the practice of policing demonstrates that intent often enough during confrontations with lawfully proceeding photographers. I have aided police in trouble or who were simply in need of an extra pair of hands (for CPR, other first aid, witnessing, and so on) any number of times over the years. So have many other Nikonians I suspect. That is not at issue here though. What's at issue is the unprecendented number of needless photographer stops by police in a wide range of jurisdictions in so many different countries.

>Maybe positive change will occur. It depends on how it is
>done. One sure result of constantly challenging police in the
>performance of their duty will be to foster the "us
>against them" mentality that is all too common on both
>sides. If that gets to be more pervasive, the result will not
>be a positive one and will only tend to promote the retreat of
>police organizations into insular, defensive frames of mind.
>The more that police officers are treated as part of the
>community rather than as a stand-apart class of people, the
>more likely that their approach to citizens will be as peers
>rather than as suspects.

I disagree even though I think that your argument is intellectually valid in full measure. But historic precedent in the U.S., Canada and the UK in particular show that significant public challenges to policing and governing authorities at various times over misapplied or simply bad lawmaking has resulted in positive change. The police in Canada, the U.S. and the UK have no method of isolating themselves or otherwise retreating into a shell (even though they've tried from time to time). They do have the responsibility and the overarching watchdog authorities that collaborate to force positive reponses. We control them - not the other way around - and if they conduct themselves fairly, reasonably, with the full measure of consistently applied law and regulation, then we and they can go about our business unmolested.

>Again, that doesn't mean silently giving up our rights. What
>it does mean, I believe, is that we should protect our rights
>when they are infringed upon and not assume infringement where
>none is present or intended. Refusing to even talk to the
>police is less an aid to protecting our rights than it is a
>path to further eroding them.

I don't think anyone has advocated refusing to respond reasonably. If I've given that impression then I haven't expressed myself accurately. I think that a refusal generally occurs only in situations in which the police are being inaccurate and/or unreasonable, and even then only after an attempt by the photographer to make some reasonable statement of presence.

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Howard Carson

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberWed 16-Jan-13 04:18 PM
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#34. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 31


Philadelphia, US
          

You are fully entitled to your point of view. Mine is tempered by my experience with the police as a professional photographer and a member of the press, and it has been decidedly negative during the past 20 years or so in the US.

I've been threated with arrest more than once. In the last 5 years or so, it's been 4 times. Once by AMTRAK police, twice by NYC police, once by Atlanta police, and once by LA County Highway Patrol. In NYC it was once while taking a photo of the Brooklyn Bridge from underneath it, and once for taking a photo of the MET, from the sidewalk while handholding my camera/lens. In Atlanta it was for taking a photo of a statue on private property, while standing on the sidewalk. In LA it was for taking a photo of the outside of the Wiesenthal Center from across the street. When in LA, the cop came toward me with his gun out of his holster. I almost went in my pants.

I've been stopped more than 50 times in the last few years across the country taking all sorts of travel photos which I found interesting, and the police found strange, apparently. The problem is they all too often come in a sharp, accusatory manner.

Many of my colleagues in the press are regularly hassled by the police, especially if we're taking photos of them in public at work.

I am meticulous about obeying the law, and have missed shots because of that. I find the mentality of the police in America toward photographers who have pro-style equipment generally shameful. I know that's a generalization. They assume we are breaking the law first, before having any knowledge of what's being done. Lately in larger cities things seem to be getting better, but in the heartland and in the deep south, they are getting worse, in my opinion.

They problem with standing up for your rights, or more accurately, making sure you don't give up your rights, is the timing has to be right. I can ask if I'm free to go nicely, and I have, but I'm going to continue to ask, because the police strategically won't tell you where you stand, to better their position against you. With regard to photography, one only has to look through the pages of NPPA to see time and time again the rights of photographers being ignored or abused by the police, and not just by individual police, but by police department policy.

I will be pleasant, but firm. If the police don't want the public to act in an adversarial manner, the police will have to go back to serving the public, instead of trying to intimidate the public.

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

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richardd300 Silver Member Nikonian since 19th Apr 2009Wed 16-Jan-13 05:01 PM
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#35. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 34
Wed 16-Jan-13 05:02 PM by richardd300

Dyserth, GB
          

Ned.

That's a really sad state of affairs and makes me feel a whole lot better about our situation in the UK. Apart from city centres, I know I would never be approached by the police with a drawn side arm and even in a city this is extremely unlikely. It's strange and I don't want to open a discussion on the subject as this would not be the place, but when I am in a country where the police are normally armed it makes me nervous and makes my wife shiver! So I can only imagine how you felt.

In the UK the paranoia is mostly centered on the photography of minors (18 or younger). I have known of two people who have been approached by police whilst on holiday in the UK after taking a landscape photograph of a parkland. A lady and 2 children were having a picnic quite a way away and phoned the police to report the couple. They were in their 60's and using a point and shoot! The couple were detained until it was all sorted out. This was a TV report.

So, we all have our problems, but it would appear from my reading here I should be very thankful.

Richard

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The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. Einstein

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberWed 16-Jan-13 08:52 PM
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#38. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 35


Philadelphia, US
          

Around here the parents are also very paranoid about photography of their youngsters.

I do a lot of work for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, part of the US Department of the Interior, the same people who supervise our National Park Service. In the US, it's generally true that photographs of anyone in a public place is permitted under the law, as they have no expectation of privacy (If you choose to be out in public, your image is fair game.) and if the photographs are used editorially (This is how the USFWS uses the photos.), not commercially, no "model release" is needed, yet because of the hysteria concerning photographing children, the USFWS requires us to first ask any child's parent or guardian if they will allow the photo to be taken, and if they say yes, we must obtain a model release for the child from the parent or guardian. The only time this isn't necessary is if the children in the photo are not personally identifiable.

For me personally, for travel photos, for example, which have children in them, which I'm selling for publication, even though they will be used editorially, not commercially, I also ask for parental or guardian permission and get them to sign a model release. It is rare I am refused. I think for me the reason is three fold. First, they understand I'm a professional photographer. Second, they think it's neat that their youngster might have they photo featured in a publication or website. Third I give them the inducement that I will email them a copy of the best photo, and will let them know by email if their youngster's photo actually was published.

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

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dagoldst Silver Member Nikonian since 02nd Dec 2012Wed 16-Jan-13 03:37 PM
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#32. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 28


Little Rock, US
          

>If you can leave, law enforcement officials, according to my friends >the police officer and lawyer, term it contact. If you're detained, >it means you're not free to leave, but it's for a relatively short >temporary period while the police officer sizes up the situation.

Ned,

This is a good discussion, so hope you are okay with my replies so far.

I think you are right, but also, I believe part of the issue is what we all mean when we say, "under arrest".

In the context I am using it, per the way I was trained to understand it, was anytime, as an officer, I stopped someone to talk to them about a situation that might lead to taking a person into custody, or even witnesses at a crime scene that I might hold for statements, they are not free to leave and I have "arrested" their departure, (even temporarily). Hence the term, "Under Arrest".

It is all-inclusive to what you are referring to above. Even if it is a "contact", if the officer has stopped you to ask you a clarification on a situation, you are not free to walk away - ie, you are technically, briefly, under arrest.

In my own experiences, I would hold the person until I was prepared to release them - and in the context of the original subthread of, "Can I leave now?", the officer is forced to decide his intent and needs.

Regards,


David

"Sawed that board three times and it is still too short... "

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberWed 16-Jan-13 08:34 PM
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#36. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 32


Philadelphia, US
          

David, I'm completely fine with the entire discussion, and your replies in particular. This is a community where everyone gets to express their point of view, as long as they stay within our TOS, which isn't particularly restrictive. By limiting restrictions to the extent possible, we maximize the ability to learn from each other, which I think happens at Nikonians all the time.

I think perhaps part of the difference may be the terminology here vs. where you were. That being said, if you're holding someone as a material witness, to get their information, while they aren't free to go, they certainly aren't "under arrest," hence the term "detained."

I went to my lawyer friend to find out more about "arrest." I found that the word "Arrest" is Anglo-Norman in origin, derived from the French word "arrêt" meaning 'to stop or stay' and signifies a restraint of a person. So I'd have to think that putting a person in handcuffs, or in the back of a police cruiser, or taking them "downtown" (LOL) is arresting them, but not letting them leave until they answer questions, such as what they witnessed is detention (not the kind the bad kids had in school).

I spoke to a former FBI agent (retired) who's a friend, and big into photography (On the dark side though, as he's a Canon guy.) and he says the difference between detaining someone, vs. arresting them, is a big deal once you get to court, because detaining takes only reasonable suspicion, but arrest requires the more rigorous, probable cause.

Best,

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

-----------------------------
Visit my Travel Photography Blog and my Galleries.

  

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dagoldst Silver Member Nikonian since 02nd Dec 2012Wed 16-Jan-13 08:45 PM
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#37. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 36


Little Rock, US
          

Ned,

Without beating this up any worse than we have, one more way of looking at it.

Taking someone into custody - to me, this is when the person is being taken in to file charges - it can be considered a component of an arrest, but like we have already talked about, you can let someone go that is under arrest, or take them into custody. Normally this person would then be processed through the system.

BTW, technically a suspect does not have to be handcuffed - that is typically done to protect the officer and most departments have this as part of the SOP for officers that are transporting prisoners.

David

"Sawed that board three times and it is still too short... "

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberWed 16-Jan-13 09:12 PM
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#39. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 37


Philadelphia, US
          

It's okay to beat it up (LOL).

I would certainly agree with you that taking someone into custody to file charges is arresting them. And as said if they have been under arrest, they certainly can be let go at some point later.

I would also agree with you that you don't need to handcuff them to have them be under arrest.

The different levels we're talking about are important for a variety of reasons, including to the extent that they require different standards by which the police must operate to ensure any evidence obtained from the person will be admissible in court.

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

-----------------------------
Visit my Travel Photography Blog and my Galleries.

  

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snegron Silver Member Nikonian since 05th May 2007Thu 17-Jan-13 11:45 PM
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#40. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 9


Cape Coral, Florida, US
          

>George, remaining calm and being 110% polite with the police
>is essential. This is true in every country.
>
>In the US, assuming you are at a public space, if the officer
>asks for your name, address and date of birth, give it to
>him/her. If the officer asks for your ID, give it to him/her.
>If the officer orders you to move back, do it. Keep your hands
>where the police officer can see them at all times. Never
>touch a police officer, or make a motion which could be
>construed that you are about to touch the officer.
>
>If the police officer asks you anything else, such as what you
>are doing, you should ask the question, "Am I free to
>go?" You are asking that to preserve your Constitutional
>Rights, and a well trained police officer will know that. If
>the officer says, "Yes" you should leave.
>
>If the officer says, "No," you are officially and
>under the law, being detained, and that's only legal if the
>officer has a reasonable suspicion that you have, are about
>to, or are in the process of committing a crime.
>
>If the officer asks what you were doing, state that you have
>the right to take pictures or video in the public space you
>are at. If the officer asks to examine your camera, tell the
>officer that you do not consent to the officer looking through
>or deleting anything on your camera. Don't engage the officer
>in any conversation. If the officer reaches or grabs for your
>camera or your cellular phone, do not resist. Simply repeat
>that you do not consent to any search or seizure. Don't allow
>the officer to legitmately charge you for "resisting
>arrest," by resisting the officer's actions in any way.
>
>At that point, if it were me, if the officer persists in
>asking questions, I would say, "I'm going to remain
>silent," after all, the Supreme Court says you should
>never talk to a police officer without an attorney. Your words
>can't be held against you if you remain silent. Moreover, if
>the police officer asks permission to search you, refuse. If
>the officer didn't need your permission to search you, the
>officer wouldn't be asking you. Never give permission for a
>police officer to search you, your car or your home or any of
>your belongings. If the officer does search you, don't resist
>and continue saying "I don't consent to this
>search."
>
>Each of these responses is measured and are to let the officer
>know, you have an understanding of the law and that you expect
>to be officer to behave legally.
>
>Ned
>A Nikonians Team
>Member

>
>-----------------------------
>Visit my
>Travel Photography Blog and
>my Galleries.








Answering a question with another question might not be the most efficient way of dispelling an officer's fear that you might have been in the process of committing a crime. True law enforcement officers are very understanding and are highly unlikely to violate your civil rights intentionally. Why on Earth would they want to risk their job/freedom just to give someone a hard time?

Look up Terry v. Ohio (commonly referred to as a "Terry Stop"). If you are being questioned by a legitimate law enforcement officer, chances are you are doing or have done something to raise his or her suspicion. The best approach when dealing with a legitimate law enforcement officer is to be truthful. Displaying a defiant attitude only raises more red flags.

As far as the 5th amendment goes, (Miranda Warnings) you have the right to remain silent; not "you should never talk to a police officer without an attorney".

Police officers are not as bad as the media portrays them. While it would be wonderful if they explained every detail to you regarding their actions during an encounter, common sense indicates that they need to be cautious about what they reveal. It's an officer safety issue. After you have dispelled their fears that you have not committed any crime chances are they will be more than happy to explain why they did what they did.

You will be surprised to know how many officers are big Nikon fans!

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberFri 18-Jan-13 12:26 AM
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#41. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 40


Philadelphia, US
          

Sandy, I think we're going to have to disagree on this one. As a pro photographer and a working member of the press, I have run into far too many situations with police officers who are frankly, "as bad as the media portrays them."

It may be that I am out every week taking several thousand photos that I'm just in police vision more than most, but my encounters haven't been great. I get the distinct feeling that at this point in this country, if you're not an obvious tourist, the police see you as a threat automatically. I've been accosted by them too many times in completely innocuous situations to believe many police departments aren't paranoid about photography. I do think it's getting better, but far too slowly.

The mere act of taking photos should not be construed as suspicious, and is not suspicious, unless a suspicious mind is at work, in my opinion. If a photographer isn't breaking a law while shooting, the police need to look elsewhere and stop acting like non-tourist looking photographers are all a bunch of terrorists, until questioning proves them not.

Sure if the police officer says to me, "Hey, whatcha doing? when I'm seen taking photographs of the interesting window hardware on Carpenter's Hall, I'll retort, "Just taking interesting photos," and keep moving on and shooting. But when they want to stop me and go further, I will ask very nicely, "Am I free to go." Taking photos of window hardware on Carpenter's Hall isn't suspicious, unless the police have warped minds. The Philadelphia Police have stopped me there several times in the last few years, taking photos of doors, windows, hardware, locks, etc. at Carpenter's Hall and some of the other surrounding buildings. Tell me that makes sense. Each time, I have been free to go, thankfully.

By the way, the reason for the Carpenter Hall trips, and others in the area is I'm working on a new website, in which I'll be using these photos. It's been a slow process to get the photos I want. I hope to start the site in the fall.

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

-----------------------------
Visit my Travel Photography Blog and my Galleries.

  

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snegron Silver Member Nikonian since 05th May 2007Sat 19-Jan-13 01:39 AM
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#42. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 41


Cape Coral, Florida, US
          

>Sandy, I think we're going to have to disagree on this one.
>As a pro photographer and a working member of the press, I
>have run into far too many situations with police officers who
>are frankly, "as bad as the media portrays them."
>
>It may be that I am out every week taking several thousand
>photos that I'm just in police vision more than most, but my
>encounters haven't been great. I get the distinct feeling that
>at this point in this country, if you're not an obvious
>tourist, the police see you as a threat automatically. I've
>been accosted by them too many times in completely innocuous
>situations to believe many police departments aren't paranoid
>about photography. I do think it's getting better, but far too
>slowly.
>
>The mere act of taking photos should not be construed as
>suspicious, and is not suspicious, unless a suspicious mind is
>at work, in my opinion. If a photographer isn't breaking a law
>while shooting, the police need to look elsewhere and stop
>acting like non-tourist looking photographers are all a bunch
>of terrorists, until questioning proves them not.
>
>Sure if the police officer says to me, "Hey, whatcha
>doing? when I'm seen taking photographs of the interesting
>window hardware on Carpenter's Hall, I'll retort, "Just
>taking interesting photos," and keep moving on and
>shooting. But when they want to stop me and go further, I will
>ask very nicely, "Am I free to go." Taking photos of
>window hardware on Carpenter's Hall isn't suspicious, unless
>the police have warped minds. The Philadelphia Police have
>stopped me there several times in the last few years, taking
>photos of doors, windows, hardware, locks, etc. at Carpenter's
>Hall and some of the other surrounding buildings. Tell me that
>makes sense. Each time, I have been free to go, thankfully.
>
>By the way, the reason for the Carpenter Hall trips, and
>others in the area is I'm working on a new website, in which
>I'll be using these photos. It's been a slow process to get
>the photos I want. I hope to start the site in the fall.

>
>Ned
>A Nikonians Team
>Member

>
>-----------------------------
>Visit my
>Travel Photography Blog and
>my Galleries.




Ned,

I'll agree that we disagree!

  

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agitater Gold Member Nikonian since 18th Jan 2007Sat 19-Jan-13 03:40 PM
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#43. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 40
Sat 19-Jan-13 03:44 PM by agitater

Toronto, CA
          

>Look up Terry v. Ohio (commonly referred to as a "Terry
>Stop"). If you are being questioned by a legitimate law
>enforcement officer, chances are you are doing or have done
>something to raise his or her suspicion. The best approach
>when dealing with a legitimate law enforcement officer is to
>be truthful. Displaying a defiant attitude only raises more
>red flags.

Sandy - Intellectually, I agree with you. I hasten to point out though that nobody - at least not Ned and me - is suggesting that anyone not be truthful. Offering what's not asked for is another matter entirely. Part of the problem is that my photography practice is too often interrupted by authorities who don't know what they're doing when they confront photographers. It's not a matter of me being truthful, but rather of me never being given even the briefest chance to state my business or photography pursuit at the time because the cop is simply and overarchingly intent on making me stop what I'm doing because he doesn't like it, and is interested only in asking me leading questions designed to elicit information from stupid common criminals.

I feel strongly that asserting rights is not defiance. But I still agree with you to a great extent. Still though, it's merely assertion of rights. Just as I criticize quite a number of authorities for their poor attitudes and poor knowledge of photographers' rights, so too do I criticize quite a few photographers for bad attitudes when confronted by authorities. There's always a better way to respond. I think what I'm generally referring to in this thread are the numerous situations in which my good attitude was irrelevant to the authority confronting me.

The pervasive Terry Stop throughout the U.S. has been abused, usually without challenge by citizen photographers, by cops who claim their suspicions were raised. The problem is that the Terry Stop must be based on a police officer being able to point to specific and articulable facts as justification for the stop. That's why I and many others in Canada - where the principle of the Terry Stop exists too albeit not by that U.S.-specific name - ask the officer why we're being stopped. If the officer doesn't have or doesn't offer what I consider to be a good answer, I calmly assert my rights as they're delineated in Canada or in whatever jurisdiction I happen to be.

As for the defiant attitude, as you described it, I again tend to agree with you. Certainly it raises red flags. But what about my unflaggingly mature attitude when confronted? In my opinion, my responsiveness raises red flags only in the minds of poorly trained or arrogant or self-entitled police officers who don't really know why they're suspicious of something, and who intend to use their armed, uniformed and legislated authority to eliminate something from their immediate view that happens to be momentarily irritating to them. The excuses they use include mumbled or vaguely phrased nonsense (and occasionally outright idiocy) about terrorism, nefarous/suspicious activities, and worse. The point here, and the point I've occasionally expressed to police on the street is, why is the photography activity I engaged in at a particular location that was utterly inconsequential 15 years ago, suddenly a matter of concern and suspicion today? Babbling nonsense about how "we all must be vigilant about suspicious activity and terrorism in our midst" and other fatuous nonsense doesn't alter in so much as even one iota the fact that I wasn't a terrorist 15 years ago (or ever) and I'm not one now. Simply tarring me - a common citizen with a passion for photography - with some sort of broad, ill-defined brush, and using a presumption of sweeping authority to hassle me by making a Terry Stop is outrageous. The police, almost always, expect my compliance and rely on the fact that the police count most of the time on a not insignificant general level of apprehension of and nervousness about interaction with police which has always pervaded the general, law abiding citizenry. The problem for them is that I'm not nervous or apprehensive around them.

You, Ned, me and basically every other Nikonian all pay usurious levels of taxes every year to support governments, policing organizations, federal think tanks, enormously expensive consultants, and more, to run the countries, states, provinces, regions, counties and municipalities. And this is the best we can train our police to do? Spamming some citizen photographers and some professional photographers with Terry Stops? My main point here is that if the agencies we are taxed near-to-death to support can't train their cops to work an awful lot smarter, I sure can. On the spot. On the street. While the cop is talking to me (or Ned, or any number of other Nikonians members), the real villains are laughing quietly to themselves. If my photography is going to be interrupted anyway, some good light disappearing while I'm wasting time talking to some authority, you can be absolutely sure that I'm going to make him or her pay for it all by setting them straight on my rights. I always listen carefully to what the authority is telling in one of these stops. Most of the time they're wrong, but on the rare occasions they've been right I simply apologize, confirm my understanding, thank them for the direction, and move along. I've been briefly arrested at least half a dozen times over the past 18 years or so in such situations anyway.

The police in almost every jurisdiction are supposed to be trained to know full well that villains don't act out in public when planning and when nefarious activities are being concocted. Those villains act out in tragic ways when the planning and concocting is all done. It's only the stupidest, disorganized ones who get caught with Google Maps printouts in their basement bedrooms as they conspire with their other stupid friends. The real villains don't present themselves for the police to pinch in public. The police know all this full well. Yet when it comes to common photographers (tourists, enthusiasts and professionals), far too many police over the past 12 years in particular in the UK, Canada and the U.S. have become increasingly agitated about the presence of citizen photographers and professional photographers. The police need to be re-educated, and I'm not above doing it, in public, in front of whomever else happens to be standing around or passing by. In Canada, if the cop tries to press the matter I'll demand to talk to the officer's Watch Commander or supervising officer. I'll take the cop's picture. I'll irritate the daylights out of him (or her) and I just don't care how upset they get. The police have to follow the rules and they have to learn to recognize or quickly identify common citizens engaged in wholly lawful activities. If they can't do that - if all they can do is spam me with Terry Stops - then I'll go to the proverbial mat with every single one of them. Saints preserve us if I so much as park my car half a bumper width past the no parking signpost; welcome to tag & tow central in Toronto. I have to learn to park properly and pay attention to what I'm doing with my car? Yes - absolutely! The law is the law, the by-laws are the by-laws and that's all there is to it. I fully support the police in their application of the law and the pursuit of public order. But the police are charged with and responsible for a lot more serious administration than my obedience to parking control regulations I should say, and they have to do at least as good at their jobs as I generally do at avoiding simple parking tickets. The point here is that when the shoe is on the other foot, the police everywhere are rigourous in the application of the rules, but when they're tasked by common citizens with following the rules which govern them the police want a pass, and understanding, and leeway, and sympathy, and "well you never know who might be a terrorist these days?" That's unacceptable. I believe that kind of leeway is the first step toward abuse of authority by the police.

>Police officers are not as bad as the media portrays them.

That's another very good point you've made I think. For the record though, I'm iterating in this thread only my actual experience - what actually happens to me from time to time and what has happened to me in the past - not some presumption about what might happen. Then again, I've met some genuine thugs who work as police - difficult, unpleasant, physically agressive, uninterested in anything but bullying me out of an area or a specific location. I don't assert rights to someone who is just spoiling for a fight; who is just trying to goad me into a reaction he can use it against me.

>While it would be wonderful if they explained every detail to
>you regarding their actions during an encounter, common sense
>indicates that they need to be cautious about what they
>reveal. It's an officer safety issue. After you have dispelled
>their fears that you have not committed any crime chances are
>they will be more than happy to explain why they did what they
>did.

Intelletcually and practically, this is a point on which I disagree in the extreme. My experience is that very few police officers are willing or interested in explaining themselves to me or anyone else with whom I've traveled in recent years (for photography or for investigative research). The police are not required to explain themselves or the local statute that they think they're applying, except in very rare situations. More than that too, I think, the police don't fear my photography activity or sense any apprehension about any of my photography activities. Quite the contrary, they just don't want me doing it anywhere near where they happen to be because getting me out of their field of view, in their minds, simply eliminates one more bit of citizen or tourist or professional activity that they feel duty-bound to observe. All of the babble they spew about suspicious activity, terrorism and other related excuses are just that - excuses to thin out the crowd by moving someone along.

Stop & Frisk, a version of the so-called Terry Stop, has lately come under fire (again) in various parts of NYC. The NYPD has been doing S&F for many, many years as a matter of policy. Truth to tell, S&F is obviously one of the issue contributing to the fact that Manhattan, in particular, is an infinitely safer place to walk, photograph and explore than ever before. I've never been stopped for an S&F - I don't fit the profile. So when are the benighted police forces going to take the next obvious step and develop their citizen and criminal profiles extensively and deeply enough to recognize citizen and professional photographers for what they are? Every time a cop of some sort stops me, I smile courteously and silently beseech whatever gods and pagan idols might be listening to make it a cop who's civil and peacefully engaged. Unfortunately, most of the time the cop is not really interested in what I'm doing - he or she just wants me out of there. If I offered a million dollars in cash, on the spot, to any cop who could connect Ned's photo project involving all those old windows, doors, hardware and old findings, or my street photography, architecture shots, textures, patterns or anything else to terrorism, villainous intent or anything else unlawful, the money would be rotted and blown to dust before any of those cops came up with even a semblance of a cogent thought on the matter.

The cops, at home and in whatever country I've traveled, who approach me with even a hint of respectful diligence (what they're supposed to be trained to do, after all), get all sorts of cooperation from me. Always have, always will. Since the late 90's though, that has gradually become the exception rather than the rule when I'm stopped while engaged in any kind of photography. For me at home in Canada, the ball is in the police's court now, and I'm absolutely willing to teach them, in public, how to play the game properly.

My Photo.Net Gallery
My Nikonians Gallery

Howard Carson

  

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snegron Silver Member Nikonian since 05th May 2007Sun 20-Jan-13 12:44 AM
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#44. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 43
Sun 20-Jan-13 12:51 AM by snegron

Cape Coral, Florida, US
          

Howard,

I am not familiar with Canadian law or police procedures, so I can't comment on them. From the sounds of it you seem to have had several unfortunate negative experiences with police officers in the past. Is there a slight possibility that these negative experiences have created in you a sense of apprehension that influences your response to officers during current encounters?

Sizing up a person during initial contact is not an easy thing to do. Many times officers respond to a complaint called in by a citizen regarding a suspicious person with a camera. Most officers are smart enough to know that more likely than not the alleged "suspicious photographer" is not a person about to commit a crime. however, when the officer makes contact with the "suspicious photographer" and that "suspicious photographer" has what is perceived by the officer to be a defiant/hostile demeanor when asked a few simple questions, red flags go up in the officer's mind:

-Could this hostile/belligerent "suspicious photographer" be a mentally ill person who is angry at the world and about to get physically violent?

-Could this "suspicious photographer" be here stalking someone?

-Could the "suspicious photographer" be a secondary subject in ring of individuals about to attack this particular building? After all, the "suspicious photographer" is standing in a place not normally frequented by average tourists.

-Why is this "suspicious photographer so hostile?

-etc.


I'm not excusing or justifying unprofessional police conduct in any way. As in any profession, there are many police officers who appear to behave in a less than friendly manner. Usually a call to their immediate supervisor helps get these grumpy officers back in check.

One thing many of us Nikonians have in common is that we have an artistic vision; we sometimes either have an idea for some image or image project, or we are momentarily inspired by something we see and want to photograph it for whatever artistic reason. Most non-photographers have no clue about what artistic projects we have in our minds. We have to either explain it to them (if they ask at the time we are taking the pictures), or we can show them the final result in the actual final image. Police officers don't have any magical powers that permit them to read minds, therefore they rely on whatever clues they can get; verbal communication (telling them what you are doing), non verbal communication (flailing hands in an angry manner, rolling eyes, sarcastic sighs are usually signs of anger).

In other words, explaining yourself in a respectful manner usually is reciprocated with a respectful response on behalf of the officer.

Why won't officers explain the reasons for their contact sometimes? Possibly for several reasons. Maybe they might be apprehensive to inform you that someone with too much time on their hands called in an anonymous complaint, and if they tell you they fear that you will become argumentative and accuse them of either lying or want to argue how the caller was wrong, etc. Maybe the officers figure that no matter how hard they try to explain their actions you will disagree on every point and turn it into a major argument. Maybe the officers were dispatched to a call of a suspicious individual who just committed a crime near the area you are at and you happen to match the description (they won't tell you if they are still looking for that suspicious person as they don't know if you know that person or not).

As for the media portrayal of police officers, doesn't it strike you as somewhat curious that only negative news about officers is what most news agencies report on? The only cops that ever get any positive attention are the fictitious, renegade Hollywood actors who play the role of a cop in an action packed movie or TV series. Real officers, (the ones who save lives every day, the ones who risk their lives directing traffic during traffic crashes, the ones who arrest child molesters, the ones who respond to your houses at 3:00 a.m. when you heard a noise in your yard, the ones who get shot at, stabbed or beaten while protecting your loved ones or property, the ones who serve and protect with honor) are never mentioned.

My suggestion is to view officers as human beings. Treat them as you would like to be treated. More likely than not they might not seem so grumpy.

  

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agitater Gold Member Nikonian since 18th Jan 2007Sun 20-Jan-13 01:48 AM
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#45. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 44


Toronto, CA
          

>Is there a slight possibility that these
>negative experiences have created in you a sense of
>apprehension that influences your response to officers during
>current encounters?

No. I'm too concsious of my conduct during such encounters to make that kind of mistake. I'm not claiming perfection mind you - far from it - just common sense.

>Sizing up a person during initial contact is not an easy thing
>to do. Many times officers respond to a complaint called in by
>a citizen regarding a suspicious person with a camera. Most
>officers are smart enough to know that more likely than not
>the alleged "suspicious photographer" is not a
>person about to commit a crime. however, when the officer
>makes contact with the "suspicious photographer" and
>that "suspicious photographer" has what is perceived
>by the officer to be a defiant/hostile demeanor when asked a
>few simple questions, red flags go up in the officer's mind

Maybe . . . but I refuse to make any attempt at trying to analyze the prospective thinking of an approaching cop or security person. It's impossible. I'm concentrating on photography in such situations, not anticipating hassle. I have neither the time nor the inclination to try and empathize with the authority's motivating issues or consider what complaint or faulty logic or misguided suspicion caused the authority to hold me up at that moment. So when I ask why, I want an answer because my conscience is clear. What I must reiterate here is my firm belief that a red flag raised because a citizen is simply quietly asserting a legitimate right to question authority is a red flag based on arrogance and a sense of unquestionable authority. Not on my watch! A Terry Stop has to be based on an articulable reason, not so-called red flags, and if all an officer has to say to me is that he doesn't like my attitude or my photographing of a traffic stop or the fractured light glinting off the industrial modern towers of an oil refinery at sunset, then he can stuff his red flags. Too often I've engaged with a cop only to be rebuffed when the cop makes it clear that I'm a suspect of something the cop can't articulate on the spot. "We don't want you photographing the refinery. Doing so weakens security."

WHAT!?!

>One thing many of us Nikonians have in common is that we have
>an artistic vision; we sometimes either have an idea for some
>image or image project, or we are momentarily inspired by
>something we see and want to photograph it for whatever
>artistic reason. Most non-photographers have no clue about
>what artistic projects we have in our minds. We have to either
>explain it to them (if they ask at the time we are taking the
>pictures), or we can show them the final result in the actual
>final image. Police officers don't have any magical powers
>that permit them to read minds, therefore they rely on
>whatever clues they can get; verbal communication (telling
>them what you are doing), non verbal communication (flailing
>hands in an angry manner, rolling eyes, sarcastic sighs are
>usually signs of anger).

But Sandy this is the most important point of all. Photography is not a crime. I don't have explain why I'm photographing something any more than I have to explain why I bought 2 kilos of tomatoes at the market instead of the 1 kilo I normally buy. In many situations photography is villified by the local police. There is no defensible reason for doing so.

>In other words, explaining yourself in a respectful manner
>usually is reciprocated with a respectful response on behalf
>of the officer.

In my experience, not often enough.

>Why won't officers explain the reasons for their contact
>sometimes? Possibly for several reasons. Maybe they might be
>apprehensive to inform you that someone with too much time on
>their hands called in an anonymous complaint, and if they tell
>you they fear that you will become argumentative and accuse
>them of either lying or want to argue how the caller was
>wrong, etc. Maybe the officers figure that no matter how hard
>they try to explain their actions you will disagree on every
>point and turn it into a major argument. Maybe the officers
>were dispatched to a call of a suspicious individual who just
>committed a crime near the area you are at and you happen to
>match the description (they won't tell you if they are still
>looking for that suspicious person as they don't know if you
>know that person or not).

It's all very interesting to a point, but I am free to proceed with my lawful interests without having to second guess or psychoanalyze an approaching cop. Photography is not a crime.

>As for the media portrayal of police officers, doesn't it
>strike you as somewhat curious that only negative news about
>officers is what most news agencies report on? The only cops
>that ever get any positive attention are the fictitious,
>renegade Hollywood actors who play the role of a cop in an
>action packed movie or TV series. Real officers, (the ones who
>save lives every day, the ones who risk their lives directing
>traffic during traffic crashes, the ones who arrest child
>molesters, the ones who respond to your houses at 3:00 a.m.
>when you heard a noise in your yard, the ones who get shot at,
>stabbed or beaten while protecting your loved ones or
>property, the ones who serve and protect with honor) are never
>mentioned.

I disagree. We honour and laud good conduct and bravery by police officers all the time. We hand out well-deserved awards to individual police officers for duty above & beyond, and for community service, and for heroism. We regularly and publicly recognize good service. What more can anyone ask?

>My suggestion is to view officers as human beings. Treat them
>as you would like to be treated. More likely than not they
>might not seem so grumpy.

I do view them as human beings and so do many other photographers. Despite that, the ignorance and arrogance of too many cops remains front & centre. As with other human beings (myself included from time to time), I believe the police need to be educated in certain situations. Lesson 1: Photography is not a crime.

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My Nikonians Gallery

Howard Carson

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberSun 20-Jan-13 02:51 AM
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#47. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 45


Philadelphia, US
          

Sandy, you said, "Police officers don't have any magical powers that permit them to read minds, therefore they rely on whatever clues they can get; verbal communication (telling them what you are doing), non verbal communication (flailing hands in an angry manner, rolling eyes, sarcastic sighs are usually signs of anger)."

I'd like to emphasize what Howard said, "But Sandy this is the most important point of all. Photography is not a crime. I don't have explain why I'm photographing something any more than I have to explain why I bought 2 kilos of tomatoes at the market instead of the 1 kilo I normally buy. In many situations photography is villified by the local police. There is no defensible reason for doing so."

Even if I'm taking photographs, of a refinery, or the Liberty Bell, or an old bank, it's not a crime. I shouldn't have to explain myself. Taking photographs is not a rational basis for reasonable suspicion that I'm about to commit or have already committed a crime, and since it's not a crime, there's no reasonable suspicion there either.

Moreover, over and over again, the courts have thrown these cases out. It's time for the police to stop this madness of literally accosting photographers for no rational reason, then get upset if the photographer is upset, and arrest them irrationally for a situation they (the police officer) created in the first place.

You want me, other photographers and the general public to view police officers as human beings and treat them with the respect we wish to be treated. Fine, the next time a police officer treats me with the respect I deserve as a citizen and photographer, who is committing no crime whatsoever, then I'll treat them with respect too. That being said, I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

The bottom line is photography is not a crime. Photography is not a terrorist activity.

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

-----------------------------
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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberSun 20-Jan-13 02:14 AM
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#46. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 44


Philadelphia, US
          

Sandy, you said, "As for the media portrayal of police officers, doesn't it strike you as somewhat curious that only negative news about officers is what most news agencies report on?"

Sandy, as a working journalist, I'm not surprised at all by not seeing anything but negative news about police officers in newspapers, on TV and the Internet. Take a look at the news in general. Other than sports, and there's a lot of negative sports stories out there, what percentage of the stories are positive? Typically the number is 5-10% and it's normally closer to 5%.

I just looked at CNN's top stories. There are 33 top stories they are reporting right now. Two are heartwarming feel good articles. One is about good news. The other thirty are all about bad news.

So why is that? Simple, bad news sells. Bad news gets a far bigger reaction and more readers than good news. A bigger reaction and more readers translates into higher advertisement revenue. Good news generally means lower ad revenue.

I've been a travel writer for some time now, in addition to travel photography (my main type of photography and main occupation), and other things I do. (Different things makes life more interesting.) I don't write news articles very often any more, unless I'm in the right spot at the right time. I've "graduated" into being a columnist. I write a column, opinion, once per week, and I write for corporate travel newsletters too, mostly advice articles. I've been a columnist for the last 4 years. It's actually more work, and harder work than writing news stories daily. Occasionally, such as when the Concordia went down a year ago, I cover the news as a reporter, but only if I'm there, or have some connections and special access to get quality information to report.

Even bad news columns "sell" more than good new columns. On the Internet (everything makes it to the digital news market now) we get to see detail metrics on every article. Over and over again it's the same thing in opinion. Write something nice (I had a recent article about how the cruise industry has been making very good advancements, for the most part, in the area of safety, since the Concordia disaster.) and nobody reads the article (They tune it out.) and no one comments either. They just don't care. On the other hand, if I do a "rant" about the health and safety of TSA's fully body scanner, backscatter x-ray machines, readership goes through the roof and readers write tons of comments.

The fact that you read nothing but bad news about the police isn't really a reflection of what the media thinks of police officers in general. It's a reflection that we are selling advertising, via our writing, and bad news sells advertising. (Somehow our writing does have to generate revenue, or we don't get paid, and we therefore can't put food on the dinner table for our family.)

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

-----------------------------
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agitater Gold Member Nikonian since 18th Jan 2007Sun 20-Jan-13 03:53 AM
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#48. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 44


Toronto, CA
          

Sandy - One thing I failed to mention is that I fully respect your point of view. All I'm trying to do in my responses is to try to persuade you that my experience differs enough from yours that I simply can't apply or attempt to practice the sort of peaceful and conciliatory approach you've described. It's not that I think you're wrong necessarily - far from it - only that my experience doesn't leave much room for your suggested approach during my travels for photography and investigative research. Combined with my insistence that photography is not a crime, it leaves us at opposite ends of a public spectrum.

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Howard Carson

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberSun 20-Jan-13 12:20 PM
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#49. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 48


Philadelphia, US
          

Howard, Sandy, I concur.

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

-----------------------------
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Sportymonk Registered since 16th Jul 2007Mon 14-Jan-13 07:25 AM
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#12. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 0


Rocky Mount, US
          

Here are some related background stories

http://www.hldphotos.blogspot.com/2011/01/photographers-rights.html

(BTW - feel free to poke around the rest of the blog.)

Nikonians is the Smithsonian of Nikon knowledge. If there is a question they can't answer, I want to see the question.

My Gallery: www.HLDPhotos.com
My Blog : www.HLDPhotos.blogspot.com

  

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agitater Gold Member Nikonian since 18th Jan 2007Sun 20-Jan-13 01:12 PM
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#50. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 12


Toronto, CA
          

>Here are some related background stories
>
>http://www.hldphotos.blogspot.com/2011/01/photographers-rights.html

Germane to this discussion, I think, I take exception to this opinion in your blog post:

"Generally, even if a permission to use form or release was signed, if the person asks for a photo to be removed from a site, any good professional photographer will remove the photo."

I don't agree at all. Photographers, amateur and professional, through the past one hundred years or more have repeatedly been beset by individuals, groups, corporate interests and government interests intent on removing lawfully made and legally protected photographs from public view. The pervasive accessibility of the Web has only increased the potential for more people to view any particular posted/online/published photos. Once again, photography is not a crime.

Someone who provides an appropriate release to a photographer may thereafter carp and whine about the publication of a photo, but that doesn't alter the fact or the existence of the release. A photographic subject is certainly entitled to a change of mind, but that doesn't magically eliminate the existence of a release. If a photographer is depending on good effects by the use of particular photos, e.g., for product advertising or marketing of some sort, and the chosen photo is being sullied by public complaints by the subject depicted in the chosen photo, then it would seem to be foolish to proceed with the use of that photo. But a legally constituted photo release is just that, and simply complaining to the photographer that "I don't want my photo used" is just not sufficient reason to take down a photo. Personally, I won't stand for it and I don't know of any "good professional photographer" who will stand for it either.

I agree with the your advice in the article that photographers of all kinds must absolutely ensure they've got a) signed releases appropriate to the locale in which photos are taken (e.g., general releases formed in one state in the U.S. are often inappropriate for use in Scotland and many other places, and so on), and b) preserve and assert the existence of those releases, as needed, for all photos in all business and personal matters.

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Howard Carson

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberSun 20-Jan-13 08:59 PM
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#51. "RE: PHOTOGRAPHERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!"
In response to Reply # 12


Philadelphia, US
          

There are a number of very difficult issues with photography and law, for which we still have to take it on a case by case basis.

Before speaking further, I want to state, as I have stated before in these forums, that I'm not an attorney. I am speaking from personal professional experience as a professional photographer who has had to deal with these issues. I have consulted with attorneys numerous times about such matters and have studied about these legal issues concerning photography, for years. I must also say that what I have to say below pertains to US law, and not law of any other country, though other countries' laws may be similar. I also want to state that my positions and statements here are not in behalf of Nikonians, of which I am a moderator.

I am writing this post, as I believe the blog article which is referred to in the above post has some important flaws in it. I am pointing out two specific flaws in the article, in my opinion. There may be others.

If any Nikonian needs advice on any of the issues raised in these forums generally, and/or this thread specifically, I strongly suggest the only way to have some real surety that you have the right answers is to consult an attorney.

You pointed us to your blog, to a piece called "Photographer's Rights."

One thing I definitely agree with was your statement that, "Also be aware that the right to take a photo does NOT mean you have the right to use the photo." This is something about which many photographers are very confused. Photographers must separate the right to make photographs from the right to publish photographs. Under the law, at least in the US and many other countries, there are different rules pertaining to making and publishing a photo.

I've also found that much of the time photographers greatly misconstrue the rules concerning publishing photographs, in general because they don't understand the "legal" versus "publicly surmised" definition of commercial photography. What commercial photography is under the law is considerably different than what most people and even photographers think it is.

If you asked the average Joe or Jane on the street what commercial photography entails they would say it's a photograph for which the photographer was paid. It turns out that it's just not so. In fact, a photographer can get paid for a photograph and it's NOT considered a commercial photograph.

When photographers make photos of and/or with people, they must be careful to not invade the people's privacy, but once the the photo is made the photographer must be concerned with the people's right of publicity of their own image. Generally, photographers violate an individual's right of publicity when they use a photo of the person for the photographer's benefit, without permission from the individual in the photo. But that statement for lay people, is to much of a generality, which can be extremely misleading, because to a large extent is lacks precision, so please read on.

For example, when a photographer uses a photograph of a person editorially, the use of the photo is not generally considered a use of the person's image for their (the photographer's) own benefit. Therefore it's not considered a commercial use of the photograph.

Commercial use of a photo clearly benefits the photographer. Under that circumstance, you need the person’s consent to use their image. If you get get that consent, you are free to use the image commercially, in other words, for advertising.

If an image is used in a "newsworthy" item then that constitutes an editorial use, and the person's rights are evaluated completely differently. "Newsworthiness" has been broadly construed by the US courts. The US courts have generally defined a photograph's public interest or newsworthiness in highly liberal and sweeping terms. It has not been limited to the strict dissemination of news, such as we seen in newspapers or TV for relating current or investigated events. The US courts have extended that meaning to include all sorts of factual, educational and historical data. It can include entertainment and almost all phases of human endeavors. It's actually almost better to not worry about the definition of "newsworthiness" or "editorial use" when talking about how a photograph is used.

I've come to the conclusion, from years of studying this issue, that if the use isn't commercial, it's editorial, so it's the definition of commercial which is important, as it's far better defined and far easier to determine and understand.

Quite simply, "commercial use" of a photograph usually occurs when the image of a person is used purely for "advertising purposes."

While the photograph of a person may be used for something that is sold for profit, such as for use in a book or as a photographic print, selling the photo is not the test for determining commercial usage.

The above is a long winded way of first getting some important definitions out of the way to make a couple of points concerning your blog post, about which I disagree.

You state, "...http://content.photojojo.com/tips/legal-rights-of-photographers/ Comments: Commandment 2 - Remember that being able to take the picture doesn't mean you can print it or publish it. You may be able to take a photo of a man cutting his grass but that does not mean you can use it without his permission in a book on 'Men cutting their Grass'..."

You list the link which goes to the Photojojo article "Photography and The Law: Know Your Rights," then talk about Commandment 2, presumably referring to the "Ten Legal Commandments of Photography" listed in the Photojojo article, but Commandment 2 states, "If you are on public property, you can take pictures of private property. If a building, for example, is visible from the sidewalk, it’s fair game," so I am baffled about your reference "Remember that being able to take the picture doesn't mean you can print it or publish it," as quoted above.

Moreover, while your statement, "Remember that being able to take the picture doesn't mean you can print it or publish it," has some truth to it, as explained above, it has problems, and I take exception to your following sentence which is your example of that statement, in which you say, "You may be able to take a photo of a man cutting his grass but that does not mean you can use it without his permission in a book on 'Men cutting their Grass.'"

Actually, in my opinion, and that of many attorneys, you generally should be able to use that photo of a man cutting his grass, without permission, in a book on "Men cutting their grass." The US courts have generally considered such a use of that photo in that instance as an editorial, not commercial use.

I repeat my key statement about the determination of whether or not a photo's use is commercial or not. "While the photograph of a person may be used for something that is sold for profit, such as for use in a book or as a photographic print, selling the photo is not the test for a commercial usage."

Next, you also stated, "Also, Being 'in the Right' doesn't mean taking the photo is the right thing to do. Generally speaking, if somebody asks a photographer to not take a photo, they don't (wives and kids excepted - grins). Generally, even if a permission to use form or release was signed, if the person asks for a photo to be removed from a site, any good professional photographer will remove the photo."

You've taken, what I would call a simplistic philosophical statement, with which most people would generally agree, and apply it to a complex real world legal issue. I don't agree with your statement, "Generally, even if a permission to use form or release was signed, if the person asks for a photo to be removed from a site, any good professional photographer will remove the photo," I sincerely don't think many professional photographers who do commercial photography would agree either. Moreover, I have some real world experience with such matters.

I think there may be some instances which would cause a photographer to pull a photograph from use, such as if the photographer's use put the subject unintentionally into disrepute somehow and the subject requested the use of the photo be discontinued. On the other hand, I have run into circumstances, as have many professional photographers, that a subject, who signed an unconditional release merely had a change of heart about the use of their image, even when innocuous, or thought they should be entitled to significant compensation if the use of the photo continued, or didn't like the way the photo was used, even if not harmful in the least. This has happened to me a number of times with travel photographs I've had published. I have never honored such a request, and know of no friends in the business who have honored such a request. Of course, none of our photos, put anyone unintentionally into disrepute.

Writing articles about photography and the law is very difficult. I think J. Edgar Hoover, a man for whom I have no love, said it well, "Justice is incidental to law and order." When we write about legal issues, as lay people (attorneys already know this), we need to separate the issues of what is right, from what is legal, and speak to what is legal, if we are to give any relevant guidance. We also need to raise our precision to the extent possible. I hope you might consider revisiting your article.

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

-----------------------------
Visit my Travel Photography Blog and my Galleries.

  

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