2011: The Photography Is Not A Crime Year In Review

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Homeland Security issued a directive that confirmed it is legal to video record or photograph federal buildings.

Police in New Hampshire continued to use their state’s wiretapping laws to arrest people recording them, even though the charges never stick.

A Miami man was told he was guilty of a felony for photographing a whale.

Police in Long Beach, California admitted that they are trained to harass citizens who are not taking photos of “esthetic value.”

A little-known law in Washington D.C. was exposed, which allowed police to arrest people for standing in one area for more than five minutes taking photos.

Pennsylvania cops continued to hold on to the myth that they could lawfully arrest people on wiretapping charges who record them in public.

And many many more on pixiq.com

There Are 2 Comments On This Article.

  1. Photo Nazis
    I wrote this Friday night, I have since learned that the 5th and Mission garage is city property. I still have not gone to my car.
    The following is a letter I submitted this morning on the website of the SMFTA, faxed to the board of the SM FTA and sent to CBS Channel 5 San Francisco.
    I am staying in town 10 days as a contractor for the largest company in America. For the past 10 years I have been parking for as many as 12 days at a time while performing my duties at these events. Tonight I went to my car to get a tripod for my camera, my hobby being photo and videography. I turned on my camera as I was walking out of the garage and continued taping as I was walking down the public sidewalk. 2 of your security guards accosted me and said “You are not allowed to take pictures here”. I said I didn’t know that and apologized saying that I did not see any signs that prohibited photography. One of the guards told me that I had to delete my photos immediately. I objected saying he had no right to tell me what to do with my photos (actually they are video files). They asked me if I was parking in the garage and I said yes. They asked to see my ticket I told him I didn’t bring it because I wasn’t going to leave the garage, just get something out of my car. They took this as an admission that I didn’t have a car in the garage. They asked me where it was parked I said the 2nd floor on the south side. One man asked me for my ID. I said I did not have to give them my ID because I had broken no laws and he was not a policeman. By now 2 more large security guards had arrived and they surrounded me in a rather intimidating fashion. They told me that I had trespassed and that I was in trouble. I reiterated that my car was parked in there and I asked them if they were detaining me. They did not answer then said that the manager was on his way to talk to me. I replied fine, I will talk to the manager. I believe his name was George he would not give me his last name. George takes his position very seriously. He comports himself with a self-important overbearing attitude. His voice immediately went to a near shout stating that I had been trespassing and then he threatened me with arrest for criminal trespass. I stated the trespassing laws in California do not work the way he thinks they do. He thinks that himself detaining someone even off the property then telling any policeman that a person has trespassed means that the officer will automatically arrest that person. This interpretation of California trespass law if carried out on an uninformed citizen not on your property but detained on the sidewalk would subject your company to serious liability. I suspect that the officer hearing what had transpired would merely say that no crime had been committed. George did not take my instructing him on how trespassing law works very well. His voice went up in volume and timbre and he started using swear words, taking the Lord’s name in vain and saying that he wanted to fuck me. Looking around I could see the security guards were embarrassed at the way this man was acting. Several had stepped back no longer wishing to be directly involved in George’s tirade. He asked me if I wished he call the police. I replied no, certain that they would be irritated at his wasting their time. George told me to, I believe his words were “You are wasting my time. Now get the fuck out of here”. I told him I was now on public property and he had no legal right to tell me what to do. At this time George looked around at the other security guards and told them that if I showed up on the property they were to arrest me for trespassing. I now fear I cannot go back to my car without bodily injury being inflicted on my person. I wish someone from upper management to meet me at the property line and escort me to my car. I will gladly leave your premises. I would also like a personal apology from the George person. If I do not receive one I will pursue legal action. He does not reflect well on the other employees, management, or owners of the facility. Please call me at your earliest convenience. I am here several more days but would like to remove my vehicle from your facility.
    If you would like to listen to his verbal abuse of me on the public street it is recorded. If you do not respond within 24 hours I will be forced to resort to legal remedies. I will also foreword a copy of this letter and the recording of the interaction with “George” to all the business partners you list on your web site and several news organizations. Only a personal apology will forestall this. I suggest you speak to George about this now.
    Anthony Loro

    A quick search on Google produced the following which I’m sure your attorneys will attest to.

    Most confrontations are started by security guards and employees of organizations who do not understand state laws regarding photography. The most common reason given is security but often such persons have no articulated reason. Security is rarely a legitimate reason for restricting photography. Taking a photograph is not a terrorist act nor can a business legitimately assert that taking a photograph of a subject in public view infringes on its trade secrets.

    Although anyone has the right to approach a person in a public place and ask questions, persistent and unwanted conduct done without a legitimate purpose is a crime in many states if it causes serious annoyance. You are under no obligation to explain the purpose of your photography nor do you have to disclose your identity except in states that require it upon request by a law enforcement officer.
    If the conduct goes beyond mere questioning, all states have laws that make coercion and harassment criminal offenses. The specific elements vary among the states but in general it is unlawful for anyone to instill a fear that they may injure you, damage or take your property, or falsely accuse you of a crime just because you are taking photographs.
    Private parties have very limited rights to detain you against your will and may be subject to criminal and civil charges should they attempt to do so. Although the laws in most states authorize citizen’s arrests, such authority is very narrow.

    In general, citizen’s arrests can be made only for felonies or crimes committed in the person’s presence. Failure to abide by these requirements usually means that the person is liable for a tort such as false imprisonment.

    Sometimes agents acting for entities such as owners of industrial plants and shopping malls may ask you to hand over your film. Absent a court order, private parties have no right to confiscate your film. Taking your film directly or indirectly by threatening to use force or call a law enforcement agency can constitute criminal offenses such as theft and coercion. It can likewise constitute a civil tort such as conversion. Law enforcement officers may have the authority to seize film when making an arrest but otherwise must obtain a court order.

    If someone has threatened, intimidated, or detained you because you were taking photographs, they may be liable for crimes such as kidnapping, coercion, and theft. In such cases, you should report them to the police.
    You may also have civil remedies against such persons and their employers. The torts for which you may be entitled to compensation include assault, conversion, false imprisonment, and violation of your constitutional rights.

    This is the end of the letter.

    Cut to Monday night…
    The following happened on Monday night and I e-mailed it to the guy that I talk to on Monday. Who I thought was going to take care of everything and straighten out the security company at the garage. I guess I was a little optimistic and how long it would take to do that as you can see by the following events.

    I thought you guys had called over there and straightened out the security guys. I wanted to go to a movie in Palo Alto tonight so I thought I would just go get my car and go to a movie. The lady from CBS called me back and said she wanted to talk to me about what happened on Friday night so I said okay I’ll meet you at the Starbucks and tell you what happened. She shows up with a cameraman and they want to watch me go to my car and I said okay. So we are walking to my car on the sidewalk out front I see one of the security guards from Friday and I point at him and say that was one of the guys that surrounded me. So of course they point  the camera at him and ask him if he was involved with me on Friday. He loses it, tells me I’m going to get arrested and then grabs for the cameraman’s camera. 3 or 4 other security guys show up and the manager (it says manager right on his jacket) show up and they tell me I’m going to get arrested. Mr. manager goes across the street to a police car that’s there and brings them over. Meanwhile Channel 5 is having a field day shooting these guys being menacing, the cops talking to me, talking to Mr. manager, etc.
    I just want to get my car and go to a movie. It takes me 40 min. to get in. I tell the cops I want the camera people to go with me because I want to give them a ride back to where the truck is parked about 3 blocks away. The security droids won’t let that happen. They say no photography on the site. I cannot believe this. The street cop bumps this up to his sergeant who talks to Mr. manager and basically tells him:
    1 This guy has a ticket you are asking for is you know he is shipped
    2 He wants to get his car.
    3 These people are with them and they can accompany him.
    4 We are going along also.
    So that’s what happens. You guys really need to straighten out the security people there. 
    And as I said I will not be letting this go until I get an apology from the guy who went off on me on Friday.

    6:02 PM on Tuesday night.
    I just came from the 5th and Mission garage, where I met with John Brown, corporate manager and Tony Delorio the facility manager. John was my age, Tony one half.
    I asked them what the corporate policy for photography was in the garage. They said it was from 9 1/2 years ago and they didn’t encourage photography. They didn’t actually say corporate policy prohibited photography.
    So I’m wondering where the instructions for the security guards came from. Anyway I’m sure new instructions will be going out to all the guards and managers regarding anyone taking a picture or video inside the facility. They brought in the George guy who was going to apologize to me. I prepared a somewhat lengthy statement for him, which I cut short when I could tell by his body language, eyes and face that he really did not want to listen to this asshole one second longer than he had to. I indicated that it was time for him to speak. He qualified his apology by saying he was only sorry for yelling at me. I told him I did not regard it as an apology and that I didn’t want to look at him any longer. He left. I looked at John and Tony and told him he was not sorry, and he would do this again subjecting the corporation to further possible liability. John indicated that Tony, his manager would deal with him. That he was a member of a union which did protect him up to a point. Having been a union member I understand how it works but I also understand the union cannot protect him from himself. In the long run his performance is what keeps him in his current job or gets him transferred to a job designed to make him leave the company.

    John went on to say that this being a customer service position and me being a customer was there anything he could do to actually make this up to me. He asked me if a period of free parking would be acceptable. I replied, I would never feel safe parking my car here. Any one of the 4 guys seeing me park here could easily retaliate on my property. He offered to comp me the time that I had parked here, a total of $195. I said that would be entirely acceptable. I now consider my interaction and desire for redress from 5th and Mission parking garage to be at an end. Other than having my bicycle stolen during a show 5 years ago this is the most distasteful thing San Francisco has ever served up to me.

    Whatever CBS Channel 5 wishes to make of this is out of my hands.