Photographer’s Rights in Ireland

Digital Rights Ireland have published a post about the rights of photographers in our fair isle. It’s a detailed post that shows some of the differences between the rights a photographer might expect here and abroad.

I find it troubling that the Minister for Justice says “that the private interactions of a person – even in a public place – may be covered by the right to privacy”. This could include shopping or meeting someone for a coffee, even if it’s in the street and in a public place! His opinion will help shape the upcoming privacy bill, is this a facet of the bill? If a person expects privacy they shouldn’t be on the street in full view of potentially hundreds of people. Settle into a nice warm cafe and out of the wind!

A few days ago, I asked, “do I need a model release?” Maybe in Ireland the question should be, do I even have the right to photograph someone in public?

Edit: it’s February 2015 now and the DRI article has moved to here. It’s very old at this stage and may be slightly out of date. In a comment on a recent photo the following was posted by John Finn:

I have been in touch with the Data Protection Commissioner about the legality or otherwise of photographing people in public places. As it stands, the situation is that under Data Protection law, you have a right not to have your personal data collected, published or otherwise processed without your consent. This includes your image, and therefore covers photographs. There is an exemption to the Data Protection Acts for the purposes of art or journalism.

I think that those of us who dabble in street photography would claim the artistic defence were we ever to be challenged by someone who objected to seeing his/her image being used on the internet without his/her knowledge. However, it is a grey area. Would a judge necessarily agree that, for example, my taking a photo of someone walking down the street with his children was “artistic”? Could it be construed as being sinister, maybe even verging on the perverse?

The DP was unable to give a clear cut ruling on the matter other than stating that each case would be judged on its merits. There have not been any cases tested in court .

So, proceed with caution, is my advice. The vast majority of people will neither know nor care if their images are being distributed on the net but there’s always a first time. It might be prudent, were you ever to be so challenged by an offended individual, to delete the photo forthwith rather than stand on ceremony. It could prove to be the rock you’d perish on.

6 Comments

  1. Matty Reply

    Amazing stuff. You might not, in future, be able to photograph anyone else without their permission. Perhaps the state will apply the same rules to your number plate when they’re busy taking photos of them in public. I’m about to start a rant, but it’s best not to!

    http://sadoldtosser.wordpress.com

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  5. Alex Reply

    There’s an excellent article about photographers’ rights in Australia here if you’re interested in a comparison. It’s about NSW in particular but most of it generally applies to the rest of the country. There are some links at the bottom to similar articles for other countries.

    In short, photographers generally aren’t restricted much by the law here, but there are the usual gung-ho security guards and police officers who seem to believe in non-existent photography bans.

    My experience is that you’re more likely to be hassled by a member of the public than by the authorities.

    http://flightpathblog.com/

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