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Right to privacy in public places. Is it time for a change?

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Interesting article regarding a push to establish right to privacy when photographing in public places.

 

http://theconversation.com/is-it-ok-for-people-to-take-pictures-of-you-in-public-and-publish-them-27098

 

 

While written in an AU context the article mentions that UK, Canada and NZ have already passed such laws.

 

I haven't formed a view yet as both sides of the argument have some validity.

 

My hope is that any laws passed on this topic are sensible and balanced. An ultimate unbalanced law would mean that much photography in public places would be illegal unless model releases were obtained, which of course would be impossible for the vast majority of photographers.

 

Then there is the public interest test. Is it in the public interest to take photographs of a parade? Could be, likewise with a demonstration. But what about pedestrians simply walking along a sidewalk. Is there any public interest in that case.

 

The only certainty is that it is a very complex issue, and it is being seriously discussed.

 

Any other views, and/or experience with the laws passed in the UK, Canada or NZ?

 

Ken

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There's no "privacy law" in England and Wales (Scotland has its own legal system, so it's rarely accurate to refer to "UK law"). There is a press code of conduct about intrusive reporting and there have been civil cases where photographs were taken surreptitiously on private property, or in a place where there was a reasonable expectation of privacy, but they are rare. If you're in the street, or even a place where you have no such expectation, you have no right at all to object to your photograph being taken and published.

Edited by spacecadet
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To the best of my knowledge, there is no such right here in Canada either. I think the article (going by its example) is in using people's images for commercial use. That is against the law (unless you have a release) here as in many places.

 

Just think how it would affect news photography. In so many sporting events, camera's are always panning the crowd. Do they have the people's permission? No, so obviously no such law exists either here in Canada or the US or those shots would not be allowed. It is displayed not only on TV but also on the jumbotrons at the events. Just think of the model releases the Goodyear blimp would need on Superbowl day! How would media cover the Rose Bowl parade, Gay Pride, Thanksgiving day parade. The list goes on and on and on.

 

Media coverage would cease to exist if releases were required for editorial use.

 

Jill

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At the moment (in the UK) there is no right to privacy in a public place, there are other laws that can cover some cases .... In the case of some celebrities and their children there are other considerations.

 

However I feel quite strongly that protecting privacy in a public place would be very dangerous and would severely curtail news photography (and I would assume video / television which is often left out of the equation).

 

We could go a stage further just to hi light the stupidity of such a law... my partner takes a photo of me, as a tourist, outside a tourist destination - however he accidentally includes others... should those others have the power to tsp him taking a photo of me? of putting Facebook etc???

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The article presents quite a balanced view of a subject that will no doubt get even more controversial as more and more people become street "iPhoneographers," etc. 

 

I don't know what the solution is, but personally I'm not as comfortable taking front-on, surreptitious pictures of people -- even in crowds -- as I once was. I now tend to include people shot from behind or in shadow much more than I used to -- or of course, I ask permission whenever possible. Also, ironically, being quite a private person, I don't particularly like my own picture being taken in public places. However, by definition "public" means for everyone, so is it realistic to expect total privacy in such places?

Edited by John Mitchell

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Quebec: Aubry v. Éditions Vice-Versa inc.

 

http://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/1608/index.do

 

There's even a movie about it:

 

wim

 

edit: link repaired

 

From what I gathered from trying to read that long brief, was that her picture was used in an art magazine as a display of a specific photographer's work, not in an editorial context which the decision seems to separate. And hey, its Quebec.

 

Jill

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Quebec: Aubry v. Éditions Vice-Versa inc.

 

http://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/1608/index.do

 

There's even a movie about it:

 

wim

 

edit: link repaired

 

From what I gathered from trying to read that long brief, was that her picture was used in an art magazine as a display of a specific photographer's work, not in an editorial context which the decision seems to separate. And hey, its Quebec.

 

Jill

 

Mais oui, "La Bellicose Province."

Edited by John Mitchell

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Quebec: Aubry v. Éditions Vice-Versa inc.

 

http://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/1608/index.do

 

There's even a movie about it:

 

wim

 

edit: link repaired

 

From what I gathered from trying to read that long brief, was that her picture was used in an art magazine as a display of a specific photographer's work, not in an editorial context which the decision seems to separate. And hey, its Quebec.

 

Jill

 

 

Just found this on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aubry_v._%C3%89ditions_Vice-Versa_inc.

- Ironically, the photo became part of the public domain since it was handed to the Supreme Court

 

wim

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There is no such law in the UK, nor is there in the USA . France is a different matter but that's been covered in this group before

 

Kumar

  • Upvote 1

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Petition going for over 3 months, but attracted just over 300 signatures and some very silly, ill-informed comments . . . it's really stretching it to call it "a push" for change.

 

dd

Edited by dustydingo

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There are various states in the U.S. where you can even use images on a commercial basis WITHOUT a model release (It's done on a State by State basis and there are only 20 states that I am aware of that have a statute).  Colorado, as an example, doesn't have any right to publicity laws let alone right to privacy.

 

http://rightofpublicity.com/statutes

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Quebec: Aubry v. Éditions Vice-Versa inc.

 

http://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/1608/index.do

 

There's even a movie about it:

 

wim

 

edit: link repaired

And hey, its Quebec.

 

Jill

 

Could you elaborate?

 

 

I think Jill was just taking a friendly poke at Quebec, which often dances to the beat of a different drummer than the rest of the country. Vive la différence!  IMO.

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Right to privacy in a public place is utterly bonkers in my eyes. What's the difference between me looking at someone and taking a picture? both images are saved somewhere. If you limit what you can photograph, should we not be limiting what we can see with our eyes too? I find the psychology of this totally absurd. Someone complains about you taking a picture of them because they aren't looking their best, but they don't mind you looking at them. Just no logic in that at all. 

 

It's funny too, because the same people complaining about photogs are the same folk wandering past a news cameras in the street waving to mum and dad or clowning around making funny faces while the reporter tries to do their job. 

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But what about pedestrians simply walking along a sidewalk. Is there any public interest in that case.

 

It's in the public interest for public places to remain public.

 

Alan

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If a law was made restricting making of images of people in public places in the UK all security cameras would have to be switched off too.

 

Allan

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If a law was made restricting making of images of people in public places in the UK all security cameras would have to be switched off too.

 

 

No, that would be made an exception because the government, police and corporations would never be obliged give up the right to spy on us.

 

It's for our own good, you know...

 

Alan

Edited by Inchiquin

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If a law was made restricting making of images of people in public places in the UK all security cameras would have to be switched off too.

 

 

No, that would be made an exception because the government, police and corporations would never be obliged give up the right to spy on us.

 

It's for our own good, you know...

 

Alan

 

The problem has always been that the law is applied inconsistently. Those who say that there is no law of privacy in England and Wales are correct. Provided you are not making images that are defamatory, or used for commercial purposes without a release, then it is perfectly in order for you to photograph someone in a public place.

 

However, the authorities, including the police, are inconsistent in the application of the law. I have been prevented from photographing in public before for no good reason. I suspect that most of the police and other authorities are vague about the law so err on the side of caution or public opinion rather than the letter of the law. On the other hand, the Police seem happy to have cameras following them about in public filming lawbreakers when they are making fly on the wall reality TV shows. I have heard the police say to the criminal who objects to being filmed "they have every right to film in public". Presumably they are happy because they have the right to edit out any bits that show the polics in a bad light. 

 

We have an obligation as photographers to defend our rights if we are working within the law and not to withdraw whimpering if challenged. 

  • Upvote 1

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