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.