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Thread: The Law

  1. #1
    Andrew76's Avatar
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    The Law

    Hey everyone! Here's a good one for you. I've been trying new areas of photography (portraiture, macro, etc), just to give me a different taste of this wonderful activity, and help me decide what I like - as of this morning, I've decided that I really like shooting people. I like the idea of studio portraiture (which I of course need tons more work on, but that's not the point), where everything is set up, and controlled by me. Lighting, techniques, camera settings, everything is a creation of art via the photographer in studio portraiture - and I really like the idea of that. So, I'm going to continue on, and try to learn more about it.

    On the other hand, I have recently discovered an unknown love for people in their natural environment. I'm sure it's the same love that nature photographers have for capturing animals in the wild. I think that photographing people at work, at play, and as life passes them by is what photography is all about (to me anyways), call it 'Urban' or 'Street' or whatever you will, it really interests me. And, here has been my inspiration for the last 3 weeks or so:

    http://www.jaymaisel.com/

    Whether you like Street Photography or not, I think he's worth checking out - he's an amazing man, with some incredible ideas, life experiences, and techniques that are worth hearing. Here lies the problem though, what can we 'get away with', without spending the holidays in jail? Although this may be a more attractive option to spending it with my in-laws, I do enjoy the company of my wife and children.

    Sorry for babbling, this brings me to my point though. For the last three weeks, not only have I been reading and studying Jay's work, and trying to soak up as much as I can, I've been reading Canadian law. Let me tell you, photography, all though it can be frustrating at times, is far more interesting than Canadian law! I haven't read anything about any other International laws, but Canadian law has to be THE most boring, repetitive subject known. In fact, there aren't any 'current' laws that pertain specifically to photography, most of them are old, dated phrases that specify negatives, and plates. To really delve into our laws, which not only differ Federally, and Provincially, but I've recently learned they even differ Municipally, you have to understand many Civil, and Criminal laws. For example - If you're on public property (sidewalk), a police officer has no right to ask you to stop photographing ANYTHING, unless of course you're obstructing traffic (Traffic Law), or harassing someone (Criminal Law), or photographing a private trademark for publication - like the Coca Cola building, (Civil Law). Am I glad I'm not a lawyer (insert apology to all lawyers here). Most laws end with a clause that states something to the effect that "Even though this activity may NOT be deemed as 'illegal', this does not mean there is no possibility you will not be sued." ??? Hahaha!

    Well, there's an update on my boring life! Thanks for listening, and for fear of being sued for any Civil injustice I may cause by saying this, Merry Christmas everyone!

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    Re: The Law

    Interesting Andrew, especially being a Canadian myself. I don't even want to think about what the provincial law states in Quebec.

    I know what you mean about taking photographs of people in their "natural" environment. I too have this interest. Though, I'm not a good PR person, give me a dog, horse, pig etc and I'm good. What I'd like to do, but am uncomfortable with, would be to station myself somewhere and just take photos of people doing there thing. I'd approach the person(s) later for a release. I'd rather not give advisement of what I am doing as I would not want to influence their behavior.

    Anyways, enough of my own babbling, Just wanted to say that I can relate.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: The Law

    Andrew - The only difference between us that I find the minutiae of the law fascinating (which shows what a really boring person I must be). Because of my work (see my profile) my particular professional interest is in child care and family law. And it is a fascinating minefield to step into.

    Did you know, for example, that in Scotland before making any decision that has an impact on a child (moving house, possibly changing job, etc etc), a parent is obliged to seek the views of his/her child and take those into account, if the child is of an age whereby he/she has the capacity to express such a view? 99.9999999% of parents in Scotland don't know that one. It would be open for a young person to raise an civil action against his/her parents if, for example, the parents decided to move to the other end of the country and had not sought and taken account of the young person's views. Fortunately for the 99.9999999% of parents who don't know about that law, 99.9999999% of young people don't know about it either.

    And as for being glad you're not a lawyer, it's having the command of all that detail that earns them the big bucks.

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    Re: The Law

    Quote Originally Posted by cichlid View Post

    I know what you mean about taking photographs of people in their "natural" environment. I too have this interest. Though, I'm not a good PR person, give me a dog, horse, pig etc and I'm good. What I'd like to do, but am uncomfortable with, would be to station myself somewhere and just take photos of people doing there thing.
    Anyways, enough of my own babbling, Just wanted to say that I can relate.
    Well, I think I've worked up enough courage, and if this rain ever stops, I'm going to give it a shot. I'll let you know how I make out!

  5. #5
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    Re: The Law

    Hi Donald. I didn't mean to insinuate that you were boring! Haha, sorry! I do however have a friend who moved here from Scotland a few years back (did you know there are more Scots living abroad, than actually live in Scotland?), who has informed me that there are quite a few wacky laws in your neck of the woods. Many probably derived from years of Monarchy, which, I'm sure is where some of ours have come from as well.

    My parents on the other hand, immigrated to Canada from Italy - now let's not start discussing Italian law and politics!

  6. #6
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    Re: The Law

    Hi Andrew,
    Whatever you do, never apologise to a lawyer.
    I have no experience with Canadian Law, but if it's anything like Australian Law you have my deepest sympathies.
    Here in UK, we've been busy cutting the crap out of our statute books for the last 30 years or so. To the extent that Lawyers are complaining that the law is now too simple and 'ordinary' people are able to understand and use it.
    In the wake of the recent terrorist atrocities around the world good old Tony Blair was responsible for some really bad law as a knee-jerk reaction. This is beginning to be unraveled in our courts and photography was one of the first to get things sorted out.
    We can take pictures of anything we like from a public space as long as we don't cause an obstruction or cause any other offence. If we wish to enter and take pictures in private property, we must obtain permission first. The property owner has the right to impose any restrictions he wishes and even refuse outright. If we enter private property and Do Not obtain permission, the owner has certain rights; He can use reasonable force to remove you from the property (what reasonable force means is still being debated). He is NOT allowed to damage or confiscate any equipment, neither can he insist you delete any images you have taken.
    Obviously common sense should prevail and if you do stray onto private property inadvertently a smile and an apology will normally put everything right. I often chat to the Security Guards and ask if I can take pictures. It's such a welcome relief to their humdrum days they'll normally fall over themselves to facilitate you.
    Taking pictures of people in or from public places is not (currently) illegal as UK has no privacy law. However, European Law gives everyone the right to privacy. So, it's an area to watch. Obviously, it's illegal to harass anyone, so be careful.
    It is illegal to take pictures in any Royal Park, Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square for commercial purposes. For personal use there's no problem.
    There are a few do's and dont's. You cannot take pictures of a crime scene or any sensitive matter, like secret nuclear bunkers (although these are normally well signposted). If a policemen tells you to stop taking pictures it will always be advisable to stop - he does not have the right to examine or insist on the deletion of any you may have taken, unless he arrests you. But we don't want that, do we?

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    Re: The Law

    Sounds very similar to what I've been reading Chris. The privacy laws in Canada are to protect people who 'intend' to be in a private environment though, so those rights are waived as soon as you step out of your house, and into public territory. Interestingly, there are laws in place which suggest that we don't need release waivers from anyone, unless the intent is to profit from selling the photos or advertizing from them. This clause is also waived however, if the person in question is a celebrity or member of government, OR if the photo is considered to be 'news worthy' - if any of those is the case, then snap away!

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    Re: The Law

    http://ambientlight.ca/laws/the-laws...-and-freedoms/

    Useful link I have used before.
    And for those who don't want to delve further, here is the nub (for public areas).

    You are guaranteed the right to take photographs, and publish them

    You are guaranteed the right to express yourself through photography, and you have the freedom to publish the photos you take. Unless you are arrested, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees your right to take photographs of anything you want, as well as publish them.

    Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 2.b):
    freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
    Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 7.:
    Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.


    Graham

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    Re: The Law

    Thanks Graham, that's an interesting site. Kinda put everything into layman's terms.

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    Re: The Law

    There was an interesting case in Quebec a few years ago:

    Amateur photographer snapped a pic of a young lady sitting somewhere in a public place (this is not illegal).

    He then entered the pic in an amateur photo contest which he won, thereby gaining a monetary advantage from his image of the the young lady. She sued and won. He should have had permission from the subject in the form of a signed release.

    Glenn

    PS: There have been a fair number of threads on this topic on other photo forums, and having them carefully (and having taken part) I am left with the impression that photographers in the USA are finding more restrictions on their activities than are photographers elsewhere. This may be a result of several things, but what has been mentioned is the increased security that followed the 9-11 disaster.
    Last edited by Glenn NK; 16th December 2011 at 07:44 PM.

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    Re: The Law

    I am involved in the ballroom dance world. As such I was taking pictures at a couple of locations with the intent to use the pics to promote the venue (within the club, not externally (i.e. I was printing off 4x6 and handing them out to the featured dancers.
    One venue was initially concerned with privacy issues and the use of flash. NOW they love the idea and several people are doing something similar (actually now posting on the clubs website).
    Second venue - draconian action, threatened with being banned from the club. (I was actually taking pics of a specific couple at their request). The reason given for banning ME (nobody else has been banned, and several others are taking pics, with flash, but not usually with a DSLR - helps that the management likes them, but they don't like me) was that there are people attending who are having affairs and they don't want pictures made public. Ummmm!

    Both of these venues were having declining membership issues. ONE of them has now started improving membership. Can you guess which one .
    Graham

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    Re: The Law

    As a new photographer I was very unsure of the laws in the U.S and being in the Bible belt the laws are even more strict. I purchased legal contracts from a lawyer that specialized in contract law. It included a number of contracts for sessions, property(if I was doing a session of someone's vehicle or motorcycle) etc. The contracts specifically state what it covers. I am not sure how about getting people to sign them "on the street" or how all that would work.

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    Glenn NK's Avatar
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    Re: The Law

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamH View Post
    Second venue - draconian action, threatened with being banned from the club. (I was actually taking pics of a specific couple at their request).

    The reason given for banning . . . . was that there are people attending who are having affairs and they don't want pictures made public. Ummmm!

    Graham
    Umm yes, this could get interesting couldn't it?

    Although dangerous, it seems like some extra cash could be made here . . . . . .

    Seriously this being a private club and not public property, I wouldn't even take my camera out of the bag in this situation.

    Glenn

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    New Member Grant151's Avatar
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    Re: The Law

    Andrew,
    In Canada you can not publish photographs of people without their permission. A model release is required. If they are unidentifiable it is not required.

    You would not be breaking any criminal law but a civil law in which they could sue. The exception is if the image has news value, then you are covered by freedom of the press. This would cover demonstrations, grand openings, car crashes, celebrities (they are deemed news worthy unless in a location where there is an expectation of privacy. You cant hold the camera over the fence to get a candid shot) etc.

    Just because a person is in a public place does not mean consent. You can take the picture but the end use is what matters. The majority of people are unfamiliar with the rules and are unaware that a photo of them posted to social media or photo sites without their consent is a no no. They just let it go due to ignorance or don't care, that's why it is done so often.

    I hope this helps a bit. I'm no expert, just what I was taught.

  15. #15
    Andrew76's Avatar
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    Re: The Law

    Thanks Grant, it does simplify it for me a little.

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    Re: The Law

    Quote Originally Posted by Grant151 View Post
    Andrew,
    In Canada you can not publish photographs of people without their permission. A model release is required. If they are unidentifiable it is not required.

    You would not be breaking any criminal law but a civil law in which they could sue. The exception is if the image has news value, then you are covered by freedom of the press. This would cover demonstrations, grand openings, car crashes, celebrities (they are deemed news worthy unless in a location where there is an expectation of privacy. You cant hold the camera over the fence to get a candid shot) etc.

    Just because a person is in a public place does not mean consent. You can take the picture but the end use is what matters. The majority of people are unfamiliar with the rules and are unaware that a photo of them posted to social media or photo sites without their consent is a no no. They just let it go due to ignorance or don't care, that's why it is done so often.

    I hope this helps a bit. I'm no expert, just what I was taught.
    Although there was the case a few months ago
    http://theeyeopener.com/2010/11/%E2%...ence%E2%80%99/
    where a worker in a nearby tall building was able to take pics of some local strippers (hanging out on the roof of their workplace). Pics were published in various places, no problems (legally at least). News value absolutely minimal, so just about anything goes. Not sure what would NOT have news value.
    Graham

    In Quebec, read this. System is a little different.
    http://www.adidem.org/Privacy:_A_New_Trojan_Horse%3F
    Last edited by GrahamH; 28th December 2011 at 12:44 AM.

  17. #17
    Andrew76's Avatar
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    Re: The Law

    That was an intersting article Graham, and it pretty much confirms what I've read in Canadian Civil and Criminal Law publications. The statement in the article that says “It’s probably legal,” he said. “But that doesn’t make it right.” pretty much sums it up.

    I've even read an article where a photographer used photographs of people on the street without their permission in his gallery show. Nothing could be done legally even though he charged a fee to get into the show, his lawyer argued that the fees charged were not to 'view' the photographs, but were used to offset the costs of hosting such an event, such as rent, hydro, food etc. So the photos were still considered for 'private' use, and nothing could be done - legally that is.

    Interesting stuff.

  18. #18

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    Re: The Law

    Interesting, Andrew. I oftened wondered how photographers can exhibit/sell street photography where the subjects are clearly identifiable. One of my favourite shots is one I took a couple of summers ago from the window of our car. It's of a little boy walking towards the beach. I can't use it for anything that I know of.

    In our little nearby burg, the bylaw states that one must have a license to engage in the business of photography within the town. It was first issued about 60 years ago, but was updated around the mid 80s. Weird. Someone must have wanted a monopoly on the trade. I came across it when looking into what was needed to register a photography business in the province. That's on my to do list for the upcoming year.

  19. #19
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    Re: The Law

    Myra, in my town a similar type by-law exists but it is geared at commercial photography shoots. It allows the town to charge for film and photo shoots where commercial outfits set up in public. Film companies use whole streets for parking for days at a time, block sidewalks and generally are a pain for locals. The licence allows them an exemption from other by-laws such as parking and noise. It was not drafted to prevent a resident or visitor from taking pictures even if they do eventually sell them for profit.
    Happy 2012
    Grant.

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