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Thread: photography and the law

  1. #1
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    Default photography and the law

    Coming down from my climb of Camelback Mountain today I snapped this photo of the mansion on Cholla Lane. It has been under construction for about two years. It is so big (over 20,000 ft2 I'd guess) and employs so many workers that the contractor schedules a roach coach to arrive at noon. Today was the first time I'd seen the roofing tiles installed.




    I spotted this new sign on the construction fence. Taking photographs of houses is not illegal, so I think the owner is engaged in some wishful thinking. Does he have a leg to stand on?

    Last edited by aostling; 01-30-2009 at 12:36 AM.
    Allan

  2. #2
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    He may have a leg to stand on. It has been tried in court and he has the copyright on the appearance of the property in some circumstances.

    2. Property Releases

    In some cases, you'll need to obtain a release for using pictures of places. You may find this odd -- after all if a building can be viewed publicly why is permission required to use an image of it? Over the last few decades some buildings have earned protection under both trademark or copyright laws or both. Trademark law will protect a building's appearance under very limited circumstances. If a distinctive-looking building is used to signify a business's services, then you cannot use an image of that building in a manner that will confuse consumers. For example, the Sears Tower in Chicago functions as a trademark, and if you intend to use it in the foreground of an advertisement, permission should be obtained from the Sears Company. Use of the building's image for informational purposes, such as in magazine article, does not require permission.

    Is permission needed to use the image of a trademarked building on a postcard or poster? That issue arose when a photographer sold images of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A federal court of appeals permitted the use of the trademarked building on posters and did not consider it to be trademark infringement. (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame v. Gentile, 134 F.3d 749 (6th Cir. 1998).)

    Copyright protection also extends to architectural works, specifically for architectural works created after March 1, 1989. However copyright protection also has limitations. A release is not needed to photograph a building or property visible from a public place. However, permission is needed to photograph and reproduce images of a building protected by copyright and not visible from a public place. Entering private property to photograph a building or related private property may also trigger a claim of trespass. To avoid such claims, photographers, publishers and filmmakers use a property release, sometimes known as a location release.

    http://fairuse.stanford.edu/Copyrigh...er12/12-d.html

    BTW, you need to downgrade the quality setting on those images. The files are huge.
    Last edited by Evan; 01-30-2009 at 12:20 AM.
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  3. #3
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    no. but ...their lawyers can beat up your lawyers


    QUICK! somebody better warn Google!

    http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&sa...&split=0&gl=us
    Last edited by Astronowanabe; 01-30-2009 at 12:23 AM.
    --
    Tom C
    ... nice weather eh?

  4. #4
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    If you can see it from a public place which has no expectation of privacy(restroom, locker room, etc), You can photograph it. GIS photgrapher's rights. It's a bluff.

    http://www.krages.com/ThePhotographersRight.pdf
    Last edited by dbc58; 01-30-2009 at 12:28 AM.

  5. #5
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    There is enough case law on the matter that a judge will entertain a suit. That's when you cave.
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  6. #6
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    Does he have a leg to stand on?

    He does now

  7. #7
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    From Krages.com:

    "The General Rule
    The general rule in the United States is that anyone may take photographs of whatever they want when they are in a public place or places where they have permission to take photographs. Absent a specific legal prohibition such as a statute or ordinance, you are legally entitled to take photographs. Examples of places that are traditionally considered public are streets, sidewalks, and public parks. Property owners may legally prohibit photography on their premises but have no right to prohibit others from photographing their property from other locations. Whether you need permission from property owners to take photographs while on their premises depends on the circumstances. In most places, you may reasonably assume that taking photographs is allowed and that you do not need explicit permission. However, this is a judgment call and you should request permission when the circumstances suggest that the owner is likely to object. In any case, when a property owner tells you not to take photographs while on the premises, you are legally obligated to honor the request. Some Exceptions to the Rule There are some exceptions to the general rule. A significant one is that commanders of military installations can prohibit photographs of specific areas when they deem it necessary to protect national security. The U.S. Department of Energy can also prohibit photography of designated nuclear facilities although the publicly visible areas of nuclear facilities are usually not designated as such. Members of the public have a very limited scope of privacy rights when they are in public places. Basically, anyone can be photographed without their consent except when they have secluded themselves in places where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy such as dressing rooms, restrooms, medical facilities, and inside their homes."
    Last edited by dbc58; 01-30-2009 at 01:05 AM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan
    BTW, you need to downgrade the quality setting on those images. The files are huge.
    Thanks, fixed that now.
    Allan

  9. #9
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    No, he has no leg to stand on.

    If you're on public property (sidewalk, roadway, public beach, parkland, etc.) or private property that you have permission to be on (neighbor's yard, store parking lot, etc.) and you're not using the images for commercial purposes (meaning, you're not using the pix in something you're going to sell, like books, or using them in advertising, or trying to sell the photos themselves) then you can, with remarkably few exceptions, photograph virtually whatever you wish.

    That is, for better or for worse, what keeps all those telephoto-equipped paparazzi from being sued or charged for snapping some celebrity in a bikini.

    Yes, there have been some misguided attempts to try to keep people from photographing some public places under the supposed auspices of "Homeland Security", but few- if any- have actually gone to court.

    The sign is nothing more than a deterrent to keep gawkers and tourists away. Like a "No Trespassing" sign only keeps those that actually obey such signs out.

    Doc.
    Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

  10. #10
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    Evan, what you have quoted is valid, but it is "fair use" law. Merely taking the photos is not prohibited or actionable. It's what you do with the photos that could become a problem down the road regarding copyright or trademark infringement. The sign on the fence only applies if you enter the property and take photos.

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