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April 11, 2007

Shooting in Public

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Ever since getting a digital camera I've wondered what my legal rights with it are. Can I shoot anywhere in public? Who can legitimately -- let alone legally -- protest my picture-taking? Is, say, snapping away on the sidewalk one thing while taking pix in a store is another? Come to think of it: Is a store a public or a private locale? An example: Once when I tried to shoot some photos in a Whole Foods branch some staffers told me to put the Kodak away. Were they within their rights? Or was I within mine?

This article from USA Today helps explain some of the ins and outs. Only some of them, though, darn it. Has anyone else run across a better, more authoritative source?



UPDATE: Steve Kapsinow has a dust-up with the crew of "The Apprentice," and links to an informative article (PDF alert) by attorney Bert P. Krages II. Know your snapshootin' rights!

posted by Michael at April 11, 2007


I just love the fact that you can't take pictures to tunnel entrances in NYC, but you *can* go online and see the official live web cams of most of the city's bridge and tunnel entrances.

Posted by: amy on April 11, 2007 1:36 PM

My two young children love gift shops, and especially like the ones in Chinese neighborhoods (full of plastic-jade dragons, laughing Buddhas, waving lucky cats and so on). I've noticed on our recent vacations that the owners of these things are very much against photographs being taken in their shops. I'm not sure why - perhaps because some of the goods are (charitably) grey market, and they're afraid someone is gathering evidence.

Posted by: Derek Lowe on April 11, 2007 1:41 PM


I blogged about this very thing two years ago. Had a run in with a filming of Apprentice at Ellis Island. I was taking photos and they didn't like it very much. :)

I blogged about it here.

In the blog I link to Attorney Bert P. Krages's article "Your Rights and Remedies When Stopped or Confronted for Photography".

Posted by: Steve K on April 11, 2007 1:55 PM

In another life I was in the advertising and design trade. I remember bopping off to a store to take some photos on behalf of a client for whom we were redesigning a package. I needed a competitive shot of typical shelf space in order to analyze the various colors that prevailed on existing packages. I was abruptly ordered to cease. I have since discovered that grocery stores and other types of retail businesses are somewhat paranoid about competition. The way goods are merchandised is sometimes quite crucial and they don't want their shelves analyzed. Of course, I explained that I was working on behalf of one of their customers, but it made no difference. No photos allowed.

Posted by: Charlton Griffin on April 11, 2007 2:38 PM

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