” Canadian photojournalist Francis Vachon was in Massachusetts earlier this month on assignment for a travel website when he came across a pair of ACLU workers asking people to sign some kind of petition in downtown Pittsfield.
Vachon lifted his camera and snapped a photo, only for the woman in the above picture to inform him that he was breaking the law.
But Vachon, having been a regular Photography is Not a Crime reader for years, knew better as he explained on his blog:
I tell her that I am in a public place and I can do whatever I want, but then she tells me with a straight face that in Massachusetts, a law prohibit you to take a photo without first having a consent. I don’t know if she really believed that or if she was lying to me, but either way it was really weird coming from a member of the The American Civil Liberties Union
Perhaps she joined the ACLU after the civil liberties organization published its Know Your Rights: Photographers webpage along with the video below(above).”
If you like to photograph in public , and these days we all need to watching the watchers , but are not sure of your rights you can find out more about them in these articles. The Photographer’s Right is a downloadable pamphlet in PDF form provided free of charge by the law offices of Bert P Krages
” The right to take photographs in the United States is being challenged more than ever. People are being stopped, harassed, and even intimidated into handing over their personal property simply because they were taking photographs of subjects that made other people uncomfortable. Recent examples have included photographing industrial plants, bridges, buildings, trains, and bus stations. For the most part, attempts to restrict photography are based on misguided fears about the supposed dangers that unrestricted photography presents to society.
Ironically, unrestricted photography by private citizens has played an integral role in protecting the freedom, security, and well-being of all Americans. Photography in the United States has an established history of contributing to improvements in civil rights, curbing abusive child labor practices, and providing important information to crime investigators. Photography has not contributed to a decline in public safety or economic vitality in the United States. When people think back on the acts of domestic terrorism that have occurred over the last twenty years, none have depended on or even involved photography. Restrictions on photography would not have prevented any of these acts. Furthermore, the increase in people carrying small digital and cell phone cameras has resulted in the prevention of crimes and the apprehension of criminals.
As the flyer states, there are not very many legal restrictions on what can be photographed when in public view. Most attempts at restricting photography are done by lower-level security and law enforcement officials acting way beyond their authority. Note that neither the Patriot Act nor the Homeland Security Act have any provisions that restrict photography. Similarly, some businesses have a history of abusing the rights of photographers under the guise of protecting their trade secrets. These claims are almost always meritless because entities are required to keep trade secrets from public view if they want to protect them.”
The good people at Krages’ law office also provide various other resources on the subject ,including the laws for a few other places outside the US , some of which we have included below .
Legal Handbook for Photographers-The Rights and Liabilities of Making Images
UK Photographers Rights
NSW Australia Street Photography Legal Issues
Photographer Rights in Portugal
Some other handy resources on the subject from around the web include:
Don’t be intimidated when you wish to take a photo or video in a public place . Know your rights and film , film , film and in the process you will be protecting everyone else’s rights along with your own . Remember “Sunshine is the best disinfectant”