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Subject: "Photographing the public" Previous topic | Next topic
Dgastrong Gold Member Nikonian since 09th Oct 2012Thu 28-Mar-13 04:35 AM
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"Photographing the public"


Sonoita, US
          

While on vacation a while ago I began to notice several interesting street people and therefore began to take pictures of them. I was at some distance so they were not aware that they were being photographed. After taking a few and seeing the results (some were good) it occurred to me that what I might have done could be considered unlawful in some states or cities. Since all of the photos were taken in public places I assumed that it was ok; now I'm not sure. I don't want to infringe on others so I need clarification if possible,
Thanks

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Replies to this topic
Subject Author Message Date ID
Reply message RE: Photographing the public
archivue Gold Member
28th Mar 2013
1
Reply message RE: Photographing the public
Dgastrong Gold Member
28th Mar 2013
4
Reply message RE: Photographing the public
Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography
28th Mar 2013
6
     Reply message RE: Photographing the public
micolhart Silver Member
30th Mar 2013
20
          Reply message RE: Photographing the public
Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography
30th Mar 2013
21
Reply message RE: Photographing the public
Bill Kennedy Gold Member
28th Mar 2013
9
     Reply message RE: Photographing the public
Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography
29th Mar 2013
12
          Reply message RE: Photographing the public
EZRDRZ
29th Mar 2013
15
               Reply message RE: Photographing the public
Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography
29th Mar 2013
17
                    Reply message RE: Photographing the public
MarkM10431 Silver Member
19th Apr 2013
31
Reply message RE: Photographing the public
Izzie Gold Member
28th Mar 2013
2
Reply message RE: Photographing the public
Dgastrong Gold Member
28th Mar 2013
5
Reply message RE: Photographing the public
Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography
28th Mar 2013
3
Reply message RE: Photographing the public
Dgastrong Gold Member
28th Mar 2013
7
     Reply message RE: Photographing the public
archivue Gold Member
28th Mar 2013
8
     Reply message RE: Photographing the public
Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography
29th Mar 2013
11
     Reply message RE: Photographing the public
EZRDRZ
29th Mar 2013
16
     Reply message RE: Photographing the public
paulfree17 Silver Member
03rd Apr 2013
23
          Reply message RE: Photographing the public
Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography
03rd Apr 2013
24
               Reply message RE: Photographing the public
archivue Gold Member
04th Apr 2013
26
                    Reply message RE: Photographing the public
Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography
04th Apr 2013
27
                         Reply message RE: Photographing the public
archivue Gold Member
04th Apr 2013
28
                              Reply message RE: Photographing the public
Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography
05th Apr 2013
29
     Reply message RE: Photographing the public
Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography
29th Mar 2013
10
          Reply message RE: Photographing the public
Dgastrong Gold Member
29th Mar 2013
13
               Reply message RE: Photographing the public
Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography
29th Mar 2013
14
                    Reply message RE: Photographing the public
Dgastrong Gold Member
30th Mar 2013
18
                         Reply message RE: Photographing the public
Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography
30th Mar 2013
19
Reply message RE: Photographing the public
blw Moderator Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas
31st Mar 2013
22
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delraypiper Silver Member
03rd Apr 2013
25
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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography
05th Apr 2013
30
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BobGeorge
13th Jun 2013
32
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micolhart Silver Member
15th Jun 2013
33

archivue Gold Member Nikonian since 26th Mar 2002Thu 28-Mar-13 08:45 AM
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#1. "RE: Photographing the public"
In response to Reply # 0


Paris, FR
          

Ah... Good question, but could have a lot of answers, as different countries have different laws about people in public spaces !

Then the other question would be, what will be the use of the pictures? Personal, publication (i.e. Flick just as a review or a gallery), commercial (selling)...?
In France, where privacy laws are supposed to be high (paparazzi judgments & al), you are OK if the individuals in your picture aren't the center of interest (that goes for a lot of interpretations), and/or it was manifest that they saw you shooting them and didn't say no expressively (much more frequent), you do not show them in an disrespectful or shameful pose or situation (such as beggars), and that you do not sell those pictures (gallery or book of "artful" pictures are OK, but for a commercial it's a no) !
In all other cases you need an authorization (written one) from the subject !

I believe that in Anglo-saxon countries, public space is fair game, again if not selling the pictures (but I guess other members of Nikonians will chime in for law intricacies )

In other parts of the world it can be easier or more complicated. We often take for granted that in some third world countries (or what we call third world), the colorful crowd, the individuals are so typical that we can take their portraits (often with a tele-doom) without their knowledge or authorizations, but they often do have privacy laws.
Throwing in a dime, isn't really the best way either !

Some famed photographers says "Just steal those pictures", others, just as famed, says "Shoot first, ask afterwards, and reshoot." (the sly ones ), others again says "Ask politely, always... The first individual will bring others, and soon you'll be in a willing company!"

My two Euros cents...

Jacques

"Un photographe, finalement, c'est quelqu'un comme les autres, mais qui prend des photos." - Man Ray
My Gallery...
My Other Gallery...

  

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Dgastrong Gold Member Nikonian since 09th Oct 2012Thu 28-Mar-13 01:48 PM
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#4. "RE: Photographing the public"
In response to Reply # 1


Sonoita, US
          

>Ah... Good question, but could have a lot of answers, as
>different countries have different laws about people in public
>spaces !
>
>Then the other question would be, what will be the use of the
>pictures? Personal, publication (i.e. Flick just as a review
>or a gallery), commercial (selling)...?
>In France, where privacy laws are supposed to be high
>(paparazzi judgments & al), you are OK if the individuals
>in your picture aren't the center of interest (that goes for a
>lot of interpretations), and/or it was manifest that they saw
>you shooting them and didn't say no expressively (much more
>frequent), you do not show them in an disrespectful or
>shameful pose or situation (such as beggars), and that you do
>not sell those pictures (gallery or book of "artful"
>pictures are OK, but for a commercial it's a no) !
>In all other cases you need an authorization (written one)
>from the subject !
>
>I believe that in Anglo-saxon countries, public space is fair
>game, again if not selling the pictures (but I guess other
>members of Nikonians will chime in for law intricacies )
>
>In other parts of the world it can be easier or more
>complicated. We often take for granted that in some third
>world countries (or what we call third world), the colorful
>crowd, the individuals are so typical that we can take their
>portraits (often with a tele-doom) without their knowledge or
>authorizations, but they often do have privacy laws.
>Throwing in a dime, isn't really the best way either !
>
>Some famed photographers says "Just steal those
>pictures", others, just as famed, says "Shoot first,
>ask afterwards, and reshoot." (the sly ones ), others
>again says "Ask politely, always... The first individual
>will bring others, and soon you'll be in a willing
>company!"
>
>My two Euros cents...
>
>Jacques

Thanks Jacques! As I suspected a complex issue however you have provided the foundation for a philosophy about shooting in public places. I have no commercial intentions at this point so all of my photos will be for private use, that should help.

Dale.

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberThu 28-Mar-13 02:26 PM
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#6. "RE: Photographing the public"
In response to Reply # 4


Philadelphia, US
          

Dale, as I mentioned, making photos and using photos are two "unrelated" issues under the law. Moreover, as to "private use" I would hope you understand that the moment you allow anyone to view an image you took, the photo is no longer "private" in any sense legally. The moment you post a photo in a gallery on the web, or show us an example of what you've taken here in the forums, the use is not "private."

Regardless, under the law we talk about editorial and commercial uses.

You may have no intent to use a photo commercially, but...

Let's say you took a street photo in your home town which includes a local church in the photo with children playing in front of it. Someone sees it and loves it. They say, you know our church is going to have a big sale in front of it to raise money for our "shut-ins" program, and your photo would be perfect for the poster we're going to put in store windows all over town so people will know about the sale. You give them the photo and get sued because you had no releases for the people in the photo giving you permission to use their likenesses. When you gave the church the photo for the poster, you gave the church permission to use your photo commercially. It doesn't matter you didn't get paid for the photo. It doesn't matter they are a non-profit religious 501(c)(3) organization. It doesn't matter that it was for a good cause or that the church wasn't making a "profit" or that the church isn't considered a commercial operation, or any of the above. It only matters that the poster was advertising and that the photo therefore was a commercial photo, and you need a release to use someone's likeness in a commercial photo.

Not to be harsh about this, but too often people have lots of intentions, but the law doesn't care about your intentions. It does care about your actions. You have to be careful about photo use.

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

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

  

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micolhart Silver Member Nikonian since 22nd Feb 2012Sat 30-Mar-13 08:35 PM
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#20. "RE: Photographing the public"
In response to Reply # 6


Gilford, US
          

I was in Ireland a took some pictures of school children on on a trip and the teachers were all over me. I had to show them the pictures I took and showed them that I deleted them.
They were very firm about me deleting the pictures.

Mike


SEMPER FI
Uncommon Valor Was A Common Virtue
Marine Corp Monument, Washington,DC

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberSat 30-Mar-13 09:37 PM
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#21. "RE: Photographing the public"
In response to Reply # 20


Philadelphia, US
          

There are many overzealous teachers and police and others everywhere concerning photography of children.

While you were within your legal rights to take those photos, as I have said in this thread and many others here at Nikonians, in my blog and elsewhere on the Internet, and as I have stated in travel photography workshops, before taking photographs of children, one should ask for permission. Since the teachers weren't the parents of the children, they would likely have turned you down, but I still believe you should have asked before snapping off the images despite not having to obtain permission for the photos, under Ireland law. When it comes to asking parents themselves, it's been extremely rare I've ever been turned down. Moreover, I often even ask the parents to sign a release, and I'm not normally turned down.

I have a carrot which I offer. I always tell them I'll send them a copy of one of the photos, which I do follow through doing. Part of my release form pulls in their email address.

I'm not sure what I would have done if I ran into that situation, as it wouldn't have happened to me, due to the way I photograph children. That being said, I doubt I would have been willing to show them the photos, nor would I have deleted them. I likely would have walked away, but I don't know having not been there.

Nevertheless, I would repeat, in the current atmosphere of irrational fear for the safety of children where photographers are automatically tagged criminals and/or pedophiles until it is proven beyond any doubt (an impossible task) they aren't, it's just a fact of life that photographers need to ask permission to photograph children before making the images.

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

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

  

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Bill Kennedy Gold Member Nikonian since 17th Jan 2013Thu 28-Mar-13 11:29 PM
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#9. "RE: Photographing the public"
In response to Reply # 1
Thu 28-Mar-13 11:31 PM by Bill Kennedy

Christiansburg, US
          

>I believe that in Anglo-saxon countries, public space is fair
>game, again if not selling the pictures (but I guess other
>members of Nikonians will chime in for law intricacies )

It is my understanding that taking photos of children in Britian is illegal without parental consent.

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberFri 29-Mar-13 03:06 AM
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#12. "RE: Photographing the public"
In response to Reply # 9
Fri 29-Mar-13 03:11 AM by Ned_L

Philadelphia, US
          

I haven't done a rigorous check about photographing children in the UK since 2011, but I have tried to keep up with changes in the law there, as I photograph in Europe, especially the UK and France at least once per year on different assignments or for stock. Hopefully one of our Nikonians members from the UK will chime in, however, I know of no law which prohibits photographs of children taken while they are in public, or requires parental consent.

There is a restriction about children under 16 being used as paid models. In that case you need a governmental license and parental consent, but we're talking about public street photography in this thread and there are no legal restrictions on that, as far as I know.

There is a law regulating photos of children, but it's about pornography. The Protection of Children Act 1978 restricts making or possessing pornography of under-18s, or what looks like pornography of under-18s. That being said, the taking of photographs of children in public spaces is not illegal under the Act or any other legislation of which I'm aware for the UK.

There are many restrictions on photography in the UK but that's not one of them.

That being said, the police at this time in the UK, in my experience, are quite paranoid about photographing children. If a policeman sees you photographing children be ready to be questioned. If you have permission they'll then immediately walk away. So, whether in the UK or the US, I would suggest what I stated earlier.

"Before I take a photo of a child in public, if I'm close enough that the image would be identifiable, even though it's not legally necessary, I ask permission to do so. Every once in a while I get turned down and walk away, but I think it's better to not get those shots than upset a parent and child. I think it's the right thing to do."

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

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

Edited to add about models.

  

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EZRDRZ Registered since 20th Jan 2013Fri 29-Mar-13 12:58 PM
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#15. "RE: Photographing the public"
In response to Reply # 12
Fri 29-Mar-13 01:10 PM by EZRDRZ

UK
          

>I haven't done a rigorous check about photographing children
>in the UK since 2011, but I have tried to keep up with changes
>in the law there, as I photograph in Europe, especially the UK
>and France at least once per year on different assignments or
>for stock. Hopefully one of our Nikonians members from the UK
>will chime in, however, I know of no law which prohibits
>photographs of children taken while they are in public, or
>requires parental consent.
>
>There is a restriction about children under 16 being used as
>paid models. In that case you need a governmental license and
>parental consent, but we're talking about public street
>photography in this thread and there are no legal restrictions
>on that, as far as I know.
>
>There is a law regulating photos of children, but it's about
>pornography. The Protection of Children Act 1978 restricts
>making or possessing pornography of under-18s, or what looks
>like pornography of under-18s. That being said, the taking of
>photographs of children in public spaces is not illegal under
>the Act or any other legislation of which I'm aware for the
>UK.
>
>There are many restrictions on photography in the UK but
>that's not one of them.
>
>That being said, the police at this time in the UK, in my
>experience, are quite paranoid about photographing children.
>If a policeman sees you photographing children be ready to be
>questioned. If you have permission they'll then immediately
>walk away. So, whether in the UK or the US, I would suggest
>what I stated earlier.
>
>"Before I take a photo of a child in public, if I'm close
>enough that the image would be identifiable, even though it's
>not legally necessary, I ask permission to do so. Every once
>in a while I get turned down and walk away, but I think it's
>better to not get those shots than upset a parent and child. I
>think it's the right thing to do."
>
>Ned
>A Nikonians Team
>Member

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

>
>Edited to add about models.

Hi Ned,

Thanks for your comments as usual. I have been reading through this thread with interest. I live in the UK so this is where my point of concern lies. There are lots of issues that come up in my mind. However I 'll start with a bit on the issue of photographing kids. Its not something I'm interested in at all, again I understand why and lots of people do. What you say about the law and photographing people under eighteen and pornography is one issue that makes sense in itself and is obviously worth legislating.

I think it's worth highlighting that if you took pictures in a public park and a mother and her three 'chldren' in that park/public play area were in that picture. You could be in trouble I beleive. It wouldnt surprise me if you got arrested, in more 'extreme' situations. You would even be told that it was for YOUR safety. That wouldnt surprise me. I'm sure you know what I'm getting at? Basically I beleive, in all honesty the reason for you causing offence, could be down to the simple fact you have a nice big expensive camera!

My interest in this thread: Not too long ago I was told by somebody that "if you go into London these days (this could serve to update some of us)- you can have your camera taken away by the -'officials'," if you are taking photos of buildings, like Big Ben, St Pauls Bukcingham Palace"!?...well my obvious response was along the lines of, dont be rediculous. This is a crazy world but its not that bad.

A while after that, about two weeks, I happened as it would be to need to go in to London. As ususal I had along my camera and bag. And got it out to get a few shots if I could. I have to say that it fealt like the 'officials' were around me, watching me? Not sure why, I am not inclined to be paranoid but my point is I was outside St Pauls cathedral and I was honestly feeling like 'they' were going to question me about what I was doing. One would obviously- take a few pictures of the Cabs and Busses etc. and go back at this point to what I stated, above about your own safety...the law is even trying to intervene when it comes to being in the cities, with a camera. Not sure what to make of this but it's just a point I though is worth keeping in mind, and I hope somebody else local will share some views/information on this. Maybe somebody from elsewhere in the UK.

Getting back to the point of photographing people/public in genral. Basically if you choose to be in public then you choose to be seen and potentially- are, on camera...which you ARE everywhere you go...is what is what I have understood the law to be! Again I think back to your point about a "legal/legitamate" picture, a picture which is not basically taken by- invading 'privacy/personal space'. Don't 'invade somebodies privacey', in the UK. Whether there's people in the photograhs or not. I also understand that if you do take a picture of somebody they should NOT be 'impolite or abusive', towards a photographer in any way- but may request that you DO NOT and have no right to make any kind of threats. In some situations they may, and are entitled to ask you to delete any photos that you may have taken. This would of course be in public. A good example would be a boat on a river on a summers day. You may like taking pictures of boats and rivers, but this could be somebodies home. You could easily find your self being pursued by somebody and their dog- who might get impolite and impatient. But suggest you do not do it, in the least.

At least ten years ago I had just got a 'new' camera, I think it was my D100. I headed out to see how it could perform at night. It was nearing Christmas and all the people had decorated their homes on the outside with lights. A few had looked quite interesting from a photographic challenge point of view so I stopped the car and got playing with the exposure and reviewing (it would have been the kitt 50-200mm lense on, I'm sure). It was nt a huge zoom I had, then either. And I thought the camera's exposure was battling with the light variation, overall. I had stayed in the car and just opened the window and literally been photographing the houses at the other side of the 'main road', through the car window. Then I moved on, did what I had set out to and about an hour later I was at home and there was a nock on the door, the 'officials' were there- asked "do you drive a blue... reg number ..." I said, "yeh do you want to come in for coffee or something and have a look at what I've photographed"? There had been a phone call from one of the houses- maybe. Needless to say. No problem though, of course.

That was just a true account that highlights the level of paranoia that people in the UK have, which has built up, I can only say since then. I also hope that I have contributed to the ideas and thoughts that people may have on the subject of photographing people.

Regards.

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberFri 29-Mar-13 01:48 PM
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#17. "RE: Photographing the public"
In response to Reply # 15


Philadelphia, US
          

"I think it's worth highlighting that if you took pictures in a public park and a mother and her three 'chldren' in that park/public play area were in that picture. You could be in trouble I beleive. It wouldnt surprise me if you got arrested, in more 'extreme' situations. You would even be told that it was for YOUR safety. That wouldnt surprise me. I'm sure you know what I'm getting at? Basically I beleive, in all honesty the reason for you causing offence, could be down to the simple fact you have a nice big expensive camera!"

It just isn't that way. I just got an emailed group of photos from one of my kids who's in London this week, who's also a professional photographer. We discussed restrictions in the UK at length, before he left, and he has obtained some special permissions for a few locations, such as the London Eye and the Tube. We also discussed the restrictions on the use of tripods in some locations of London.

He was in Hyde Park yesterday and took some marvelous photos of children at play there. Not a single Bobby bothered him as he shot the kids, and there were at least 4 who walked by. Over at the nearby Queen Mary's Gardens, a Bobby did walk over to him and asked what he was doing. He was taking photos of more children there. He told him he had asked if it was alright to take photos of the kids and got approval. The officer looked over at the mother who waved, and that was that.

It's not illegal to take photos of children in the UK, but it's still a good idea to ask for permission to do so if you're close to the children and obviously taking their photos.

Personally, I don't think the Bobby walked over because of the DSLR. I think he walked over because my son was so close to the children while he was taking their photos.

Ten years ago things were very different than they are today. While there is still much photographic paranoia, it's eased, as the western world has had more than a decade since the US suffered the attack of 9/11. It needs to be a lot better, but I think there are gross exaggerations out there about current conditions, and there are amazing myths about laws which don't and have never existed.

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

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

  

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MarkM10431 Silver Member Nikonian since 15th Apr 2013Fri 19-Apr-13 05:23 PM
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#31. "RE: Photographing the public"
In response to Reply # 17


jacksonville, US
          

i tend to think it is also ignorance of the law, not only on the photographer, but on the public and the police as well.

although a different situation, the same misinformation/ignorance applies to firearms. in many places it is permissable to open carry, however, if you do, you are certainly going to be stopped, questioned and often harrassed/arrested. Firearm or camera, someone wandering about out of norm is going to be questioned, legal or not.

it's always advisable to check the actual laws

  

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Izzie Gold Member Nikonian since 02nd Dec 2011Thu 28-Mar-13 08:49 AM
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#2. "RE: Photographing the public"
In response to Reply # 0


Chesterfield, US
          

Unless you are going to use those pictures commercially, I do not think you will have any problems or else many tourists who take photos of where they were and people that interested them in taking photos of will all be sued. What is wrong is shooting someone inside their property without permission. Just my thoughts...and what I would do in your situation.

Fly safe, drive safe and keep safe.
G'day and G'lock....
Izzie

GATEWAY SWIFT WING ST. LOUIS
My Nikonians Gallery

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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Dgastrong Gold Member Nikonian since 09th Oct 2012Thu 28-Mar-13 01:56 PM
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#5. "RE: Photographing the public"
In response to Reply # 2


Sonoita, US
          

Izzie you make good points. In fact I noticed that the last sporting event I watched had many pro photographers firing at will throughout the venue and I know the fans had not signed a release.

What I find interesting about photographing people who are unaware is that you can capture them as "real" and exhibiting their humanism. During post processing yesterday I was shocked by the pleasing and artistic appeal of some of these photos....it seems to be an "itch" I need to scratch. Thanks for your comments,
Dale.

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberThu 28-Mar-13 01:47 PM
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#3. "RE: Photographing the public"
In response to Reply # 0


Philadelphia, US
          

Dale, Jacques hit the highlights of your question already, so if I may, I'll add on from there.

Disclaimer: I'm not an attorney. With this answer, I'm not representing the opinion of Nikonians for whom I moderate this forum. I am a professional photographer with quite a bit of experience concerning photography and the law, who has consulted with attorneys from time to time about these issues and I've done a lot of reading about these issues too. The below answer and any others I give in this thread doesn't constitute "legal advice."

As Jacques said, different countries have different laws about taking photos of people in public spaces. They even have different laws about what is meant by public spaces. And they have different laws about what you can do with the images you've made, once you've captured them.

The first thing to learn is that under the law in most, if not all countries, and the US falls in there, the law separates the photographic endeavor into two parts, taking/making photographs and using/publishing photographs. You may be able to take a photograph of someone in public without permission, but not be able to use the photograph without their permission. You may get permission to take a photograph from someone, but that doesn't mean that under the law you can use that photograph any way you desire without further permission. Then again, you may be able to take someone's photo without permission and use it without permission.

If you were in the US when on vacation, the general rule of thumb is that you were within your legal rights to make those photos of people on the street, which is considered a public space. Even if they were in their backyard, if you were on the sidewalk, and there were no obstructions between you and them, taking the photo would generally be legal as they, like the people in the street, had no expectation of privacy. Expectation of privacy is the key here in the US, and many other countries, but certainly not all. (We can talk about photography in other countries, but we need to be specific about what country you want to discuss.)

That being said, let's say you're on a sidewalk or in the street and the people you wish to photograph are in their yard. Surrounding the yard is a 6' high fence. You then decide to put a ladder next to the fence, climb up and snap a photo of them. That photo was taken unlawfully because the people behind the fence had an expectation of privacy, which was not legally circumvented.

Let's say you're in Disneyworld in an area in which Disney has no prohibition about taking photos. You're walking down an avenue at Epcot. You're on private property, but as stated, the owner has not prohibited you from taking photographs, and the people strolling along the avenue have no expectation of privacy, therefore it isn't unlawful to take their photo.

Now let's say you're walking in the Garden District in New Orleans. From the sidewalk you see a fascinating interior of a home there. You snap that photo and happen to catch an image of a person looking out from the shadeless window. That's okay. A day later you're back, to show a friend the home. This time a shade has been installed and it's pulled down fairly low. You snap the photo of the person standing a bit back from the window, again from the sidewalk. That's likely not a legally taken photo. By pulling down the shade and standing back from the window, that person likely had an expectation of privacy. Your friend decided to get a better look inside so he walks onto the home's property, right up to the window. Putting the camera's lens right up to the window he gets a great shot. Well, as you've probably surmised, that shot's not legally obtained. The person in the room had an expectation of privacy which was violated by entering their property to take the photo. Even if the photo was only of the room, the shot wasn't legally obtained.

Once you have the photo, how you use it determines whether or not you need permission to use/publish it. There are editorial and commercial uses of photographs under the law. I'm not going into detail about this, but will hit a few highlights. First, you might be paid for an editorial use of a photograph, but that doesn't make it a commercial photograph, as defined by the law. You might not get paid for a commercial photo, but that doesn't mean it's not a commercial photo, under the law. We must separate getting money for a photograph and whether or not its use is commercial The two, under the law, are not connected. Generally speaking, commercial use means advertising use.

Generally, if a photograph is used for editorial purposes, put up in a gallery, in a book, in a newspaper or magazine, in your online galleries to show friends, family and the general public, merely to see the scenes you've captured and see your work, it's legal to post photos of people without having them sign a release to give you permission to use the photograph.

If, on the other hand, you took a photo of someone legally, and then sold it to Company XYZ to be used to sell their widgets, you would need a their permission to use their image. I covered the big Chinese New Year parade in NYC a few weeks ago. Senator Chuck Schumer, never shy in front of the camera, was marching in the parade. I got a few hundred photos of him, all legally taken, as he had no expectation of privacy. I used them for editorial purposes in several publications. Okay I'm fine to this point. Now, if I gave some of the Schumer photos to XYZ for use to sell their new brand of X-Widgets, that would have been against the law as that would have been a commercial use which requires permission, even though the photo was taken legally.

As I said, making the photo, and using the photo are two different acts, with two different sets of laws governing the actions.

One more thing. These are all rules of thumb, shall we say. There are fine points to the law and photography that can't be said in a short post of a few hundred words. Moreover, the law is a living thing in that it changes and grows over time, and as more cases are brought to courts where judges make decisions about specific situations, each time that's done, the law is refined and made a bit more specific and easy to understand.

That being said, I think you have enough of an answer to your question to safely take your photos and follow the law, if you're in the US. If you were somewhere else, let us know and we can talk about that. Also please note, we didn't talk about taking photos of properties, architecture, objects of art, copyrighted items, etc. The law and photography can get complicated at times.

A word about photos of children in public anywhere, before I close please. In the US, children have no different expectation of privacy compared to adults, but we know that parents and guardians of children are extremely protective of them with all the stories of abuse and pedophilia in the news. Many parents worry, and are even paranoid about their children being in photos which somehow could be used by those who would harm them, or that the person who is taking their photograph is a pedophile themselves. Before I take a photo of a child in public, if I'm close enough that the image would be identifiable, even though it's not legally necessary, I ask permission to do so. Every once in a while I get turned down and walk away, but I think it's better to not get those shots than upset a parent and child. I think it's the right thing to do.

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

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Dgastrong Gold Member Nikonian since 09th Oct 2012Thu 28-Mar-13 09:43 PM
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#7. "RE: Photographing the public"
In response to Reply # 3


Sonoita, US
          

Thanks for the outstanding reply(x2) Ned! Much appreciated. The real take-away for me is to be careful and if uncertain ask for and get a signed consent. Your last paragraph about children is an eye-opener to me. I would have never thought of this since my wife and I do not have children; married 37+ yrs, no kids yet . I'm not worried about photographing them because (please do not take offense) they do not interest me very much. The old guy sitting on the park bench or the average Joe or Jane walking down the street provide a great glimpse into the "human study" that fascinates me. I was going to upload a few but thinking about the loss of control and ownership is a worry; I'll hold off for now.

In the final analysis it's too bad that this is such a potentially troublesome portion of the art.... I've always enjoyed seeing high contrast B&W photos of folks doing human stuff...it has a way of grounding me. I will keep the ones I have and enjoy them here at home (even my wife likes them ).

Thanks again for the great responses Ned.

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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archivue Gold Member Nikonian since 26th Mar 2002Thu 28-Mar-13 11:01 PM
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#8. "RE: Photographing the public"
In response to Reply # 7


Paris, FR
          

I'd like to thank Ned too, as his english is much better then mine and in a few lines he stated the most important parts that would work almost everywhere.
Specially the part about children, as in France it's about the same problem nowadays... Gone are the times when Boubat, Cartier-Bresson, Doisneau would have some "candids" with children !

Another point, very french maybe, is about couples (either young or old). When seen at odds hours (they should be at work), one part of them is married to someone else ! Even if they take the risk to be seen in public, a picture of them can finish in a gallery, several years later (when the affair is supposedly finished), just next door to the spouse workplace !!!

So if sometimes couples gives the photographers black looks and argue a bit, you're quite sure about the reason (same goes for the people who fish on the Seine as often they called for sick at work )

To get it simple, don't hold off, as you're right, it's the essence of photography. Just chat before shooting and get their addresses to send them a picture (so in case your picture goes ballistic and commercial you know how to get in touch ) !!!

Jacques

"Un photographe, finalement, c'est quelqu'un comme les autres, mais qui prend des photos." - Man Ray
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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberFri 29-Mar-13 02:35 AM
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#11. "RE: Photographing the public"
In response to Reply # 8


Philadelphia, US
          

Jacques, it's always a pleasure. Your English is great.

In my early days one could make photographs of real life anywhere with no problems from people or the police. Sometimes I miss those days when life was simpler.

I think it was in 2009 in Paris one evening when walking through the Tulleries and near the west end, not far from the Musée de l'Orangerie, I did get a very "dirty" look from a couple when I started to look through my viewfinder. I skipped the photo. Now I know why the look.

Thanks.

Dale, I agree with Jacques. Engage them in a short chat, and then shoot. Telling them you'll email a copy of the photo when you can will go a long way.

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

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EZRDRZ Registered since 20th Jan 2013Fri 29-Mar-13 01:32 PM
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#16. "RE: Photographing the public"
In response to Reply # 8


UK
          

Hi Jaques,

Paris is a great place for all kinds of photography. What I liked when I was last there and we went into the Louvre, you could photogaph in side as much as you wanted. Versailles also. I took some photographs that I am really happy with.

Are you saying that if you ask somebody to take your picture with your camera of you and your partner while you are on holiday...they might want to look through what you have and delete some of the photographs? Is that also why they might run off with your camera

I did notice that SOME OF the people in Paris get excited when they see MY camera and offer to take pictures..FOR ME and MY partner sometimes But if you want to take pictures of them they turn away and look angry

Regards

  

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paulfree17 Silver Member Nikonian since 15th Jul 2009Wed 03-Apr-13 07:52 PM
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#23. "RE: Photographing the public"
In response to Reply # 8


Montville, US
          

There was a movie several years back, I think it was called "Blow Up" or something of that nature.

A photographer shooting general street pictures happens to take a few pictures and later finds himself being attacked and stalked by someone. Turns out he captured a picture of someone who had supposedly died and was living incognito and he definitely did not want to be found.

I amy be a little confused with the overall plot. It must be twenty or more years ago. But I guess the moral is that if you are taking pictures of groups of people there are probably some who could care less and others who definitely do not want to appear in someone's gallery or in a newspaper article.

Visit My Gallery at Pfotos-By-PFreedman

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberWed 03-Apr-13 09:00 PM
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#24. "RE: Photographing the public"
In response to Reply # 23


Philadelphia, US
          

Paul, I think you're thinking about the movie, "Blow Out." It's not about a photographer, but about a movie sound recordist, played by John Travolta who accidentally records the evidence which proves that a car accident was actually a murder, and consequently finds himself in danger. The movie was filmed by director Brian de Palma, almost entirely in Philadelphia, PA.

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

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archivue Gold Member Nikonian since 26th Mar 2002Thu 04-Apr-13 01:24 AM
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#26. "RE: Photographing the public"
In response to Reply # 24


Paris, FR
          

Oups...! It's "Blow up" from Antonioni's
"Blow out" does exist and is about sound recording, while "Blow up" is in London in the Sixties one of the first apparitions of Jane Birkin as a teen ! Main character is David Hemming...

It's all about "blowing up a picture" to find a speck of white in a public garden that happens to be a body... Intrigues starts and end as in the sixties !

It's the movie that got many photographers (and maybe brands) to get noisy motorized shutters, sort of fashionable

Jacques

"Un photographe, finalement, c'est quelqu'un comme les autres, mais qui prend des photos." - Man Ray
My Gallery...
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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberThu 04-Apr-13 02:07 AM
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#27. "RE: Photographing the public"
In response to Reply # 26


Philadelphia, US
          

Never saw it Jacques. Is it any good and worth seeing?

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

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archivue Gold Member Nikonian since 26th Mar 2002Thu 04-Apr-13 06:59 AM
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#28. "RE: Photographing the public"
In response to Reply # 27


Paris, FR
          

It's really worth seeing, though it must have aged, as in the EU it boosted the desire of many young people to become a photographer (the opposite of HCB, more a fashion one with studio , à la Newton).
Then there is also the nostalgia of a "care free" era, loaded with creativity...

Jacques

"Un photographe, finalement, c'est quelqu'un comme les autres, mais qui prend des photos." - Man Ray
My Gallery...
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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberFri 05-Apr-13 01:05 AM
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#29. "RE: Photographing the public"
In response to Reply # 28


Philadelphia, US
          

I rented it and watched it. It was a pretty good movie. Thanks.

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 MemberFri 29-Mar-13 02:23 AM
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#10. "RE: Photographing the public"
In response to Reply # 7


Philadelphia, US
          

You're very welcome. It's my pleasure.

I do have children. They're adults now. I don't take offense at all. Each persons interests are their own, and no one's are better than anyone else's. They're just different.

Can you explain what you mean about "loss of control and ownership?" I think I'm missing something here.

It is a shame that in so much of the world people are living in fear and fear of photographers is real, but it's much more by the government, compared to people. With people we just need to use commonsense, and most of the time we'll be alright.

On the other hand, with police, that's another story, but it's getting better, I'm relieved to say. I've been threatened with arrest for taking photos several times, and been ordered to delete photographs from my memory card. So far I've managed to stay out of jail and have never deleted a photo from my cameras due to a police order. They can't order you to do so anyway.

It's a crazy world out there, but keep taking those street photos and show us some from time to time. I'm out there almost daily.

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

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Dgastrong Gold Member Nikonian since 09th Oct 2012Fri 29-Mar-13 04:01 AM
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#13. "RE: Photographing the public"
In response to Reply # 10


Sonoita, US
          

Yes. The loss of control I was referring to is the loss of knowledge about the use of your photos once they are uploaded to sites. The old guy on a park bench might become an advertisement for hair jell or some other goofy product. Once uploaded they become eternal and the owner has lost all control of use.

I have learned much from these discussions. Makes joining Nikonians all the more valuable to me. Thanks!

Dale.

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberFri 29-Mar-13 09:59 AM
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#14. "RE: Photographing the public"
In response to Reply # 13


Philadelphia, US
          

Dale, right now in my online galleries I have 2,289 publicly available photos for viewing. In addition, I estimate I have easily more than 5,000 images published on websites throughout the world at tourist bureaus, travel sites (locations which people travel to when away from home), etc., misc. locations, plus images which accompany my articles and columns about travel.

My rule of thumb is that if the photo is published on the Internet, it's available for theft, however, in my galleries I make it very hard to steal them, and outside of my galleries, my copyright is prominently displayed on the face of each photo, and in the meta data (Actually my copyright is embedded in the metadata of each photo I make automatically every time I make each photo.)

As a professional travel photographer, if I don't publish on the web, in the 21st century time we live in, I'm going to have to close up shop.

I do patrol the web to locate stolen photos, in large part using two tools, TinEye and Google Image Search. I have found over the last year, 15 stolen photos. I have taken action with each one and have had satisfactory results, including one action just this week. I acknowledge that along with the 15 I've found, there are likely 10 times that number I haven't found, but they are likely for private use for the most part, and not on the Internet.

The thefts have come from published photos in articles and columns, from what I can tell, not from my galleries. In my galleries, I include a number of safety factors to prevent theft. Generally if someone is going to steal from the galleries, they're going to use a screen capture program, and all they're going to get is a low-res copy (one of my safety factors) not suitable for a nice blowup for printing.

While I advise anyone to be circumspect about their web posts of images, I certainly don't advise them to not publish. I would suggest the same for you. Put them up but take precautions. If you display your work on the web in your own gallery, at a minimum:


  • use a max resolution of 125 pixels/inch
  • use a max image size of 800 pixels on the longest side
  • embed your copyright in the exif data of the image
  • place your copyright on the face of the image
  • disable right click for your gallery if possible
  • disable copying and saving your image in browsers if possible
  • disable permitting external links to your image if possible

As for me, I also register my images with the US Copyright Office which gives me the ability to shoot for statutory damages, not just actual damages, for stolen work, which makes the theft of my work much more painful to the thief.

You can also restrict access to your images to family and friends in most gallery software. If you want to post, take precautions for sure, but I wouldn't not post due to fear of theft myself.

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

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Dgastrong Gold Member Nikonian since 09th Oct 2012Sat 30-Mar-13 12:11 AM
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#18. "RE: Photographing the public"
In response to Reply # 14


Sonoita, US
          

Thanks for this reply Ned. I feel more comfortable uploading photos based on your comments. I'll heed your recommendations when I upload in the future either here or on other sites..

This has been a good thread and it was nice to be a portion of it.

Cheers,

Dale

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberSat 30-Mar-13 12:30 AM
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#19. "RE: Photographing the public"
In response to Reply # 18


Philadelphia, US
          

As someone relatively new to Nikonians, who hasn't been participating very often, I hope this thread has been helpful in making you more comfortable here, and look forward to your future posts.

Have a great weekend.

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

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Visit my Travel Photography Blog and my Galleries.

  

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blw Moderator Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas Nikonian since 18th Jun 2004Sun 31-Mar-13 05:32 PM
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#22. "RE: Photographing the public"
In response to Reply # 0


Richmond, US
          

In addition, there are the laws, and then there is the enforcement of them. As an example, a few years ago I was simply sitting on a bench in front of a school (facing away, incidentally). I had a camera with me, but I wasn't using it. I was approached by an administrator and told that it was not acceptable to be using a camera on the school premises - even though strictly speaking I was not on the premises and in fact was demonstrably not using the camera at all. No quarter was given: the school did not sanction child exploitation. Which is pretty ridiculous given that either the camera was entirely empty or had completely unrelated images on it. (My wife hassles me about never taking pictures of people in the first place, which isn't true, but which demonstrates the likelihood of my having any kid pictures on the camera.) In the event I left before any further problem could be created.

A couple of years ago I had a ridiculous incident in Denver. I was very deliberately on a public sidewalk, taking pictures of trains. The road is reasonably traveled and is not a back water. All of a sudden two police cars came flying up the street with lights going and stopped on either side of me. They wanted to know what I was doing - so I told them. They were a bit suspicious, but fortunately I had been to the Colorado Railroad Museum earlier in the day and I had 300 frames from that too. They (and apparently the railroad folks) had been spooked by "the biggest camera they'd ever seen" - 80-200/f2.8 AFS, and some were apparently thinking that I was a terrorist scoping out the infrastructure. Again, despite a reasonably satisfactory result with the police, I beat a hasty retreat before any further controversy could be enjoined.

Note that in neither case was I even remotely in a legal grey zone. Yet in practice, this can be something of a risk. On the other hand, I've done street photography, in the US, UK and France, and actually in those cases I've never had any issue.

_____
Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member

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delraypiper Silver Member Nikonian since 06th Feb 2013Wed 03-Apr-13 09:22 PM
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#25. "RE: Photographing the public"
In response to Reply # 22


Delray Beach, US
          

I knew there was a reason I take pictures of bugs, birds and critters.

John D

  

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Ned_L Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, especially Travel Photography Charter MemberFri 05-Apr-13 01:22 AM
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#30. "RE: Photographing the public"
In response to Reply # 25


Philadelphia, US
          

Actually, it's possible you might need a release for an animal.

Let's say Lassie the dog was walking down the street and you photographed Lassie. If you display the photo in your gallery, or used it in an article, or to illustrate a point in a book, that's an editorial use of the photo and even though Lassie is trademarked, since the association between the photo of Lassie and you and the use has little meaning you likely don't need a release.

Now let's say you used the photo in an advertisement for a company selling dog leashes. Now you've got a problem, unless you have the release from Lassie's owner. That's a commercial use of a trademarked item with a definite association with the trademark.

So you're likely fine with bugs and birds, but some other critters, maybe yes and maybe no.

It's situations and issues like this one that drives me to consult an intellectual property attorney when any situation is questionable, and to make sure I'm doing the right thing. My attorney wrote my release forms too. I don't make a move in this area without her advice.

Ned
A Nikonians Team Member

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Visit my Travel Photography Blog and my Galleries.

  

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BobGeorge Registered since 11th May 2013Thu 13-Jun-13 09:35 PM
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#32. "RE: Photographing the public"
In response to Reply # 30


Woodbridge, US
          

Good info. I've always wondering about this.

============

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micolhart Silver Member Nikonian since 22nd Feb 2012Sat 15-Jun-13 12:40 PM
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#33. "RE: Photographing the public"
In response to Reply # 0


Gilford, US
          


Two years ago in Ireland, I saw this group of children on a school outing. I just had to take some pictures. When the teachers saw me taking pictures. They were very upset. I showed them the pictures and deleted the pictures in front of them.
It can be a touchy thing.

Mike


SEMPER FI
Uncommon Valor Was A Common Virtue
Marine Corp Monument, Washington,DC

  

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