The state of street photography in the UK

Scary. I blogged previously about photographer’s rights in Irelnd but it appears that UK Police are ignorant of those rights which are similar to Ireland’s. I have never been stopped by Gardai (the Irish Police Force) taking photos on the street, but in the UK it seems to be a growing problem for photographers. Have you ever been stopped shooting photographs in a public place?

Make sure to read Photographer’s Rights from DIgital Rights Ireland to find out more about your rights as a street photographer in Ireland. If you travel you should always be aware of local laws as they’re liable to change in every jurisdiction. (via dslrblog.com)

How DIT’s “Iomha ’08” photo contest can hijack your rights

So, you’re all fired up and ready to enter a new photography content? Dublin Institute of Technology are holding a worthwhile photo content in the run up to Seachtain na Gaeilge this year. They are “seeking photographic entries on the theme of An Ghaeilge Bheo – Irish: The Living Language from both Ireland and abroad”. There’s a first prize of €1,500 which is not to be sniffed at!

Unfortunately if you enter, you’re giving up some of your rights as a photographer. From the rules:

14. Entrants will retain copyright in their submitted entries. However, by entering the competition all entrants grant the competition organisers a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual licence to use and publish each entry in any and all media (including print and online), for exhibition, publicity and any other purposes which the competition organisers in their sole discretion deem appropriate. DIT reserves the right to use the entries in the promotion and publicity campaign for the competition including exhibition and publishing of the images. All entries and entrants’ details will be securely stored.

What does that mean for you? Let’s say you have some beautiful shots of the West of Ireland, in an area where Irish is spoken. Like many people you’d like to make a bit of money out of your hobby. Who will buy your image? Tourists might, but competition is fierce and it’s hard to get the shelf space for your art work. What about Government bodies? Maybe one of those departments advocating the Irish language will buy it?
Good luck if you’ve entered that image in this competition. You’ve just handed DIT, Foras na Gaeilge, Oideas Gael and who knows who else the right to use your image in whatever way they like. You never know. Check the DIT Prospectus next year. Instead of paying money for a professional photographer they will have a ready made library of free photos to use, forever.

OK, before you scream, “Nutter! They wouldn’t do that!” I agree, they probably won’t, but DIT aren’t the only ones to do this. National Geographic have a Your Shot page every month where they invite photographers to submit their best images. Guess what’s buried in the tems and conditions of that contest? They’re not the only well known brand to do it.

Jim reminded me that even Facebook have some dodgy wording in their terms and conditions. How would you like that drunken picture of you singing and laughing at a bar with beer bottle in hand to appear in a Facebook advert? It could happen ..

Many photography contests have similar terms and conditions. Before submitting a photo, read the small print. Even if you never want to sell an image, it won’t be nice to discover a treasured photo used in an inappropriate way.

A Photographer’s rights around the world

Do you recklessly walk around urban areas with your camera like I do? Are you worried?

A few days ago I received an email from John Hennessy asking me about street photography and especially what rights and responsibilities do I as a photographer have when out with my camera on the street.

Many moons ago I linked to this article on photographers rights in Ireland but it’s worth revisiting again because of the comments added since. Comment 11 by Bill is especially useful going into further detail about different scenarios but also making it obvious that the law really hasn’t been tested or is complete.

Irish law has been quite grey in a few areas when in comes to photography and publication of certain types of photos. For example the taking of a photo of a garda while on duty is not illegal however the publication of said photo is, if the member of the force is identifiable.

The photography of minors is a very dangerous area for any photographer and one area I avoid like the plague.

Blasphemy is still illegal in this country, therefore pictures that are considered so will get you into all sorts of hot stuff. This extends to artistic photos too.

A post on Digital Photography School asks Do Photographers have Rights? There are links to photographer’s rights articles from around the world so if you’re going to do a little traveling it might be a good place to start before you get into trouble!

Jpg Magazine’s issue 9 was dedicated to street photography and Chris Weeks reviewed it. You can download a PDF sample of the issue which I have done, but I haven’t got around to reading it yet. Chris likes it but he doesn’t pull any punches in his review. His review is harsh but I’m tempted to subscribe now..

The soaking wet happy springer spaniel

This is another photo of Ruby, a springer spaniel that lives in Myrtleville. This time she followed us over to Fennell’s Bay where she dashed off into the shallows after stones. She was deliriously happy!

Unfortunately the same could not be said for a group of teenagers higher up on the beach who threw stones at us and into the water very close to us. Their malevolent laughter spoiled that moment for us and put us in real danger. They weren’t locals and by their accents it wasn’t hard to figure out where in Cork they were from.

There’s more of Ruby here and here. We were down in Myrtleville last weekend and didn’t see her at all. I hope she’s ok and was tucked up at home in front of the fire instead of at a cold and wet beach.

Congratulations to Gavin@Headphoneland for winning best photoblog at last night’s Irish Blog Awards! Get well soon!

There’s definitely something up with Flickr’s “Blog This” function. The URL of the image it passed to my blog was borked and displayed the infamous, “This photo is currently unavailable”. I reported it yesterday but I guess it’ll take longer than that to fix.

The ever vexxing question of privacy arrises on Kevin’s blog here and here. In the USA it’s perfectly ok to use someone’s image for non commercial usage as long as the photo was taken in a public place. I can understand why that woman is suing Yahoo! but I guess it’s the money she wants rather than protecting her privacy. (Is there a difference?) I covered the issue in the past, where things could be a little different in Ireland – the expectation of privacy extends to a private conversation in a public place. Vexxing indeed!

The Digital Photography Show interviewed Bert Krages, the author of the PDF, The Photographer’s Right on the subject of photographer’s rights. I haven’t listened yet but it should be good as he knows his stuff. Obviously laws will change from place to place so do some research locally before shooting on the street! The interview is also mentioned here and here.

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.