Monday, July 21, 2014

NBC Today again vets growing controversy over photography even in normally public places

Today, the NBC Today Show had another brief conversation (with Bob Hansen) showing concern over the taking of pictures of people even in public places.  This seemed to be new coverage (I see that NBC had discussed it March 31, 2014).  It was said that it seems inconsistent that you can’t record people’s conversations without consent but that you can photo them, and that many people don’t appreciate what can be done with images in the digital age.
NBC didn’t have a link yet on this discussion, but the ACLU has a very useful guide (“Know your rights”0 here  and notes that in some states (like Pennsylvania) recording of voices without permission even in public is illegal.  The New York Times has a compelling column by James Estrin from August 2012 “criminalizing photography”, here. It seems that in some cases police stop photography even when it is legal, and that there are cases where the established press is not allowed to phorograph but amateurs are (not what you would expect).
Property owners can always prohibit photography on the premises.  A few bars do this, as I’ve covered on the LGBT blog.  Most businesses won’t allow photography of employees at work.  Some prohibit “commercial” photography, as evidenced by tripods or large equipment, but such a distinction seems weaker as cameras become miniaturized on smart phones.  Would republication of a photo (like from a sports event) on a blog that accepts ads legally constitute commercial use?

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