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Photo Law – Your Right to Take Pictures in Public

public photography law

You have a camera. But do you know your rights when it comes to public photography? You’ll learn them here.

Public photography is wide open

That’s the general rule. When you’re on public property (a street, sidewalk, city park, etc) you can take pictures of what you see. This means that you can also photograph private property as long as you’re not trespassing to get the shot.

Unfortunately, life is never that simple. There are a couple exceptions to the rule and other details you need to know.

Does the photo subject expect privacy?

Even on public property, you can’t photograph somebody who has a “reasonable expectation of privacy.” Basically, that means you can’t snap shots of people in the bathroom, a dressing room, or similar places. Ask yourself: “Would the average person expect privacy?” If so, don’t take a photo.

Along the same lines, don’t sneak photographs of people from bizarre angles. In essence, you can’t go around taking “up skirt” photographs. Even if you’re on the public sidewalk.

Is it a question of national security?

It was news to me, but military bases and nuclear facilities can restrict photographs – even from the outside area. Even if you’re not trespassing onto government land, taking pictures of these installations could be illegal.

Don’t even try. We’re not talking misdemeanor illegal. You might be shipped off and never seen again. Yep, crazy illegal!

Stand your ground, politely

If your public photo opp passed these three stages, you’re probably safe to shoot some pictures. Since there are millions of scenarios in which you could be photographing, there’s no way anyone can tell you for sure, ahead of time.

But if someone does confront you about your photography, you can probably win by standing your ground. Bert P. Krages II has some great questions for you to ask, if confronted. Remember to be polite!

  1. What is the person’s name?
  2. Who is their employer?
  3. Are you free to leave? If not, how do they intend to stop you if you decide to leave? What legal basis do they assert for the detention?
  4. Likewise, if they demand your film, what legal basis do they assert for the confiscation?

I’m not encouraging you to break the law, but I also hate seeing people cower when someone confiscates their camera. Private parties cannot take your personal property without a court order. And unless a police officer is arresting you, he cannot take your property either.

Other resources

The Photographer’s Right – This is Bert’s printable guide on U.S. public photography law. It’s very thorough, but still readable. I’d say it’s a must-have for any budding photographer.

Photo Permit – A great site on photography law, “about keeping photographers out of trouble, and supporting them when trouble looms.”

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press – Their name says it all. If you’re a journalist (or blogger?), these guys are your backup.

Any questions?

I’m sure that whirlwind tour of public photo law might have raised some questions. I’ll do my best to tackle them. Just post a comment, and we’ll talk!

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215 Responses to “Photo Law – Your Right to Take Pictures in Public”

  1. U.Va. Andrew '09
    October 11th, 2007

    Nice post.

  2. Shark Girl
    October 12th, 2007

    What about posting pictures of people in blogs / websites? If someone takes a picture of another, then uses that person’s image as a blog post, what can the person do if they don’t want their picture on the Internet?

    For example, there’s a blog where someone takes pictures of overweight people then posts the pictures on his blog and laughs at them. Yes, the people were in the public, but I think it’s cruel to people out on display like that without their permission.

    Shouldn’t you be required to have a person’s permission before you display their picture on the Internet?

  3. Andrew Flusche
    October 12th, 2007

    Hi Shark Girl!!

    My understanding is that you can generally publish photos that were legally taken. With that said, you can’t break other laws in the process. A classic example is taking a photo of a celebrity in public, then using that photo to say that the celebrity endorses your product. It was legal to take the photo, and it is ok to publish it. But you can’t claim an endorsement that doesn’t exist.

    Your example about making fun of people probably doesn’t rise to an illegal level. It’s clearly not a Christian thing to do, but it’s typically free speech.

    Thanks for the insightful comment!

  4. dude
    October 13th, 2007

    But you can not publish a picture where single persons are clearly recognizable without asking for their permission first. Celebrities are an exeption because they live in “public domain” by choice.

  5. Andrew Flusche
    October 13th, 2007


    Actually, I think your statement is too broad there. The law varies by state, but you’re talking about the right to privacy. Generally, you can’t use a person’s photo to publicize a matter that would be highly offensive to a reasonable person and is NOT of legitimate concern to the public.

    Taking a photo of somebody walking down the sidewalk probably doesn’t violate their right of privacy. You’re not publicizing something offensive, so it’s not a problem.

    With that said, obtaining a written release is a good measure of protection. Heck, this is an entire blog post by itself. :)

  6. Owen Cutajar
    October 14th, 2007

    Cool post. Kinda gets you thinking .Personally I never thought twice about taking snaps and having people in them. I also probably would have been intimidated by someone asking for my camera, mainly because I had no idea what to expect and what was legal and what wasn’t.

    Thanks for giving me a new perspective.

  7. Andrew Flusche
    October 14th, 2007

    Hi Owen,

    I’m glad the post gave you something to think about. I guess the reason most people don’t really think twice about this is because most of our snapshots are legal. Most people don’t trespass or breach people’s privacy with their cameras. That’s a good thing!


  8. Gavin Smith
    October 14th, 2007

    Good article.

    I’ve always been interested in the general issue. The one that I notice you didn’t totally cover is the scenario where a person in public demands that you destroy a photo you took of them, or otherwise creates a scene about them being in your picture. What would your comments be on that?

    As far as having a security guard, property owner or otherwise non-governmental people demanding your camera, film, or storage cards, there’s no way I’d consent to that or give up – it’d take no less than a police officer to surrender any personal property, and even then I’d resist unless given official reasoning.

  9. -C-
    October 14th, 2007

    Thanks for the info.

    Anyone here who knows what the situation is in the UK on this?


  10. GodsFavorite
    October 14th, 2007

    @ SharkGirl

    A situation where you take a picture solely to make fun of someone would fall under verbal assult and probably libel as well. Its not a free speech issue, and DEFINATLY not a nice thing too do.

    If you took a picture of a fat person eating McDonalds and went on to comment on how McDonalds is ruining our lives that would fall under free speech.

  11. Shark Girl
    October 14th, 2007

    Thanks GodsFavorite. I like your nick by the way. If you’re that close to God that you can be one of His favorites, would you mind sending HIm my way? I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle.

    I would post a link to where the pictures are, but I don’t want to give the person of having satisfaction of traffic to the site. It’s very sad that the people were photographed and put on public display and mocked.

  12. Leo
    October 14th, 2007

    How do you know if you are in a public place. For example, is a publicly funded Zoo a public place? What if it is only subsidized by the state? Etc…

  13. GodsFavorite
    October 14th, 2007

    @Shark Girl

    Yes I am His favorite. And so are you. Think about it, the God who formed the stars with his fingertips still loves you immensly.

    check out everystudent.com for some resources. I’ll keep watching this blog.

  14. Andrew Flusche
    October 14th, 2007


    In short, I’d say that if you took the picture legally (in public, of something that a person can’t claim is private), there is no reason you’d have to destroy the photo (or give it to them). If the person is upset enough, they might take it to court. If the judge decided that you did something wrong, HE could order you to destroy the photo or relinquish it.

    Thanks for your comment!

  15. Andrew Flusche
    October 14th, 2007


    I’ll have to do some research on this. It would be an interesting comparison to look at U.S. law on this matter, compared to several other countries. Perhaps a nice chart!

  16. Andrew Flusche
    October 14th, 2007


    A “public place” is not always clear, unfortunately. Typically, something run and funded by the government would be considered “public property.” So a state university or city zoo would usually count. In fact, I can’t think of a time when these two examples wouldn’t be public (when funded & run with govt. money).

  17. Andrew Flusche
    October 14th, 2007


    Thanks for stopping by! I love your name too! :)

    I don’t agree that making fun of someone would be libel. Libel is making a false statement against someone that harms his reputation. To actually be libelous, a statement has to be factual. Just putting forth an opinion on something is not libel, though it may be incredibly rude and horrible to say (like calling someone fat, ridiculing, etc).

    Please don’t think I’m defending whatever site Shark Girl is referencing. I think it sounds horrid. I’m speaking to the legal aspect only.

  18. [...] Andrew writes up some short facts about when it is and isn’t okay to snap pictures in public. Read through the comments as [...]

  19. matt
    October 15th, 2007

    In reply to SharkGirl, I think that if the photo is to be used as “news” you can publish without a release. I would get a release from the subject when ever possible in the event you have someone that might want to buy the photo rights for some commercial purpose.


  20. [...] been a big weekend for Legal Andrew. I’ll post details in a day or two, but my post on photo law made the main page at [...]

  21. [...] at “Legal Andrew” has a great discussion going on about pictures, and what your rights are as a photographer.   Readers, including me, [...]

  22. [...] to you great readers, Legal Andrew had its first Digg main page debut. On Sunday, my photo law post hit the main [...]

  23. [...] Read It All: Photo Law – Your Right to Take Pictures in Public « Legal Andrew [...]

  24. JDaddy
    October 25th, 2007

    I got a question on this matter. I’m from Canada so the law may be different on this matter. My girlfriend and her sister have pictures of my son on facebook. These pictures have both my son and them in the picture. Now my sons mother (who is the custodial parent) is demanding to take them down. I am the childs father and was just wondering how much ground does she have on this matter.

  25. Andrew Flusche
    October 25th, 2007


    This is a sticky situation, as I’m sure you know. Unfortunately, I’m not very familiar with Canadian law on this point. The safest option is to take down the pictures. Since the primary photo subject is a child AND his custodial parent doesn’t consent to having them published, it’s probably wise to do what she asks.

    But, please keep in mind that I can’t give you legal advice. I’m only licensed in Virginia, and you’re not my client. Sorry!

    Thanks for the comment,

  26. michele
    November 1st, 2007

    I take action shots at football,baseball,motocross. Sometimes I take pics of the spectators.

    Am I protected by posting them on my website? Yes I do sell them to the parents/grandparents/selves. I am so involved in these events that I do know if someone other than family is trying to purchase a photo.

    I have not sold them to any publication. But in the event I am approached, I do know I need a release agreement.

  27. Andrew Flusche
    November 1st, 2007


    This is an interesting question. If you’re actively pursuing this as a business, I would strongly advise you to consult with an attorney licensed to practice in your area.

    I would say that posting the photos online is no problem. But selling them gets a little trickier. I just don’t know the best answer to that question. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help. :)

  28. [...] source 没有评论, 评论或Ping [...]

  29. Laura
    November 11th, 2007

    I live on a military base. I am aware I cannot take photographs of certain things. But I’m sitting here looking out my window and the marching band is practicing across the street. That is how I ended up here. Wondering if it would be okay to take a picture of them practicing. Is there a site or document somewhere on the internet that specifies what I can or cannot do. I also want to get a picture of the inside of the gate.. .not the gate itself just the area down the middle of the street where the fighter jet and all the state flags are. I’ve never taken a photo of it because I’m not sure if I should. I do not see how items like this can affect security. I have taken pictures of areas around housing. and out the back door. There is an official building showing but with all the trees around it , it is a bit unrecognizable. I live here and I can’t even think of what it is.

  30. Andrew Flusche
    November 11th, 2007


    You’re bringing up some very interesting points about photography on military bases. The best advice for you is to ask these questions from your base’s administration. If there are restricted photography rules, they should be able to provide you with guidance.

    With that said, I can’t imagine how the things you’re describing could be restricted. The marching band and a street hardly seem like security issues. BUT you never can tell, especially in our post-9/11 country.


  31. Fabian
    November 16th, 2007

    I am from Texas and own my own website where I post my work,
    A couple of months ago I did a shoot at a car show where a famous rapper was doing a photoshoot for a magazine. I had the chance to take some pictures and would like to post them up on my website. Do I need to get any kind of permision from any one. I only want to show my work …not sell what I’ve shot.

  32. Andrew Flusche
    November 17th, 2007


    People can generally photograph things in public and even display those photos publicly. As long as you’re not selling photographs, you’re probably fine. With that said, it’s always best to consult an attorney licensed to practice in your area.

    I took a second to check out your site, and I love your work! I grew up North of Fort Worth, and some of your pictures really remind me what I’m missing now that I left Texas. :)

  33. pug713
    November 18th, 2007

    Hello. I recently took photos of a celebrity at a book signing for that person’s book. Am I able to sell some of these photos on E-bay, or is that against the law? The photos were taken in a bookstore at an event open to the public.

  34. [...] Photo Law – Your Right to Take Pictures in Public [...]

  35. Todd
    November 29th, 2007

    What about taking photos of a government building in the U.S. (not just a military base)? For instance federal courthouses have signs saying it is illegal to take photos.
    What if the government offices are in a private building, can you not take a photo of the building?
    If the building is in the city skyline, can you not take a photo of the city skyline?

  36. Andrew Flusche
    December 1st, 2007


    These are some great questions. I’m going to write a new article that focuses on the government building angle. I’ll definitely have to research that one. :)

  37. Photokarazy
    December 3rd, 2007


    This has probably been asked before so I apologize for asking again. :-) (At work-no time to read threads) I was at a Christmas Parade this weekend and took over 200 photos. Some of these photos I would like to license commerically. There is one in particular of a costumed “Santa” riding the firetruck. Does this image need a model release form? I will appreciate your response. Thanks so much!


  38. Andrew Flusche
    December 3rd, 2007

    Hey photokarazy,

    The best solution is to get a model release whenever you’re planning to sell photos of people. If you weren’t selling it commercially (or you were using it for a news piece), you’d probably be safe without a release.

    For true legal advice, you should contact a lawyer in your jurisdiction. Or try a free legal advice site like LawGuru.com.

  39. Jason
    December 4th, 2007


    At my church we want to put up a public photo album on our College/Young Adult ministry web page. The photos are taken by us at events we hold/attend. Sometimes on mission trips children might be included in the pictures. We are worried about legal issues within the church that could occur related to this photo album. From the above article and posts is seems like we don’t have much to worry about, but I would like to get your opinion on the matter. Thanks in advance!

    – Jason

  40. Andrew Flusche
    December 4th, 2007


    The main concern is that parents might not want pictures of their kids publicly available on the internet. Your general legal counsel can best advise you about how to handle this. But it’s probably enough to just take down specific pictures if & when parents raise a concern.


  41. Angry Mommy
    December 9th, 2007

    I have a question much like that of “JDaddy” only a bit different and a bit more complicated. I am the custodial parent of my son, and I was doing some searching online on a website that my sons Dad is a member of. I wont go into details, but he is the non-custodial parent, with nothing more than supervised visitation rights. He is involved in some pretty crazy stuff, and in effort to keep my sons best interest at hand, I believe I have the right to check him out online. So, I found a message board that he posted on about a year ago, right after our son was born. One of the forums asked the members to post pictures of themselves, and he posted one of he and our son the day he was born. The picture itself is in no way incriminating, however, the website that he posted it on is full of pervese pictures and writings, and even has included pornography. After seeing my son’s picture on this site, I got pretty angry, but kept reading to see the comments in reply to it. A few replies later, one of the other members (I cant tell who because i cant look at profiles unless im a member), but this member said “Can we see naked pics of the baby soon?”. This infuriates me. Is there any way I can make the website take that picture off if I am not the one that posted it? I do have an attorney that handles all of my custodial and business affairs, so I will call her on Monday, but I was hoping you’d have some advice in the mean time :) Im infuriated and I want to do the right, legal thing for my sons sake, but at the same time I am so mad at his Dad for posting that without my permission, and even moreso at the pervert that had the gull to write that about an innocent little child. Do I have any options here?

    -Annonymous Angry Mommy

  42. chris
    January 12th, 2008

    I want to start a blog/website that will feature videos of people that we interview or random people doing healthy things. nothing illegal or demeaning. can I post without concern? also can I post the same to youtube?

  43. Andrew Flusche
    January 12th, 2008


    Since you’re not planning to sell the photos and videos, you probably don’t need a model release from the subjects. But the people might be able to demand that you remove any photos or videos of themselves.

    For legal advice, you should contact a lawyer in your jurisdiction. Or try a free legal advice site like LawGuru.com.


  44. logan randall
    January 13th, 2008

    i have a little issue and im hoping you can help me with it. i recently had called in sick for work one day and someone came into my apartment and took a picture of me in my apartment so she could bring it back to my place of work,show it to my boss and try to get my fired.i feel that it is at least breaching my rights and i would like to know what actions i could take.would you please help me.

  45. Andrew Flusche
    January 13th, 2008

    logan – I’m not sure what to tell you here. If your boss did anything because of the photo, you should consider calling an attorney. If you allowed the person into your apartment, there might not be much you can do. But if they came in uninvited, there might be a trespassing claim or something.

  46. D.Smith
    January 22nd, 2008

    I enjoy photography so long as I’m taking the photo’s! although I only take them with peoples consent, I hate being photographed and usually refuse to allow anyone to do so. My employers now say they want a notice board with staff photographs on it displayed for all to see…. AGGGHHH! Do I have any rights to refuse. Surely my human rights can stop it…I hope! PLease dig deep into the laws you kow and get me out of this!!!!

  47. Andrew Flusche
    January 23rd, 2008

    D – I’m not sure what to tell you on this one. The best solution would be to politely ask if you can stay off the photo board. Your employer might be willing to respect your wishes.

  48. Kellie Albee
    January 28th, 2008

    My son was at a wrestling tournament in Idaho, we live in Montana, and while at this tournament, somebody took pictures of him, and has posted them on a website, this is not the news, they want me, his mother, to see the pictures and buy them.

    I never released rights to publish photographs of my son, is this okay?

  49. Andrew Flusche
    February 2nd, 2008

    Kellie – I can’t give you legal advice, since I’m only licensed in Virginia. Your best option is to consult an attorney in your area.

    Photographers generally can’t sell photos of people without getting a written release from the model. But that might change if the photographer is only offering the photo for sale to the model’s parents. You could do some reading on the right to privacy, specifically, the “right of publicity.”

  50. photos for profit
    February 7th, 2008

    When publishing photos for profit, under what circumstances would a “release” be required.
    The photos in mind are,
    Towns/Scenery with people in them walking down the street.
    Cars, Trucks and Animals from a country fair.
    Houses and Architecture (private homes, no people)
    Vehicles, Trucks, Fire Trucks,


  51. Andrew Flusche
    February 10th, 2008

    Hey, releases aren’t typically needed when photographing people and things in public, especially on the public sidewalk. But be sure not to invade people’s privacy. That’s the key.

  52. Susie
    February 11th, 2008

    I have an issue with a lawyer. He was parked in front of my house, which is in the country on a dead in road, waiting to take a picture of our dogs. He did take a picture of one who was inside our fenced pasture. He is a lawyer for our neighbor who we have a protective order on because of his threatening acts with guns. He is trying to justify it now by saying our dogs are viscous. Does his lawyer have a right to take pictures of my personal property without my consent?

  53. Andrew Flusche
    February 11th, 2008

    Susie – It sounds like you really need to consult a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction. But if this lawyer remained on the public road when taking pictures of things in your yard, there’s probably nothing illegal there. You don’t have an expectation of privacy in your yard, since the passing public can easily see it.

  54. Jerry A. Hostman
    February 12th, 2008

    My question is concerning a picture that my Girlfriend had on her Myspace page. The photo was of our little girl and my daughter with my ex-wife. She claims that it is illegal for my girlfriend to post the pic. Is this true in anyway.

  55. Andrew Flusche
    February 17th, 2008

    Jerry – It’s always a difficult question when children are involved. If one parent does not want the child’s picture online, it is best to remove it. An attorney licensed in your jurisdiction could give you advice on your specific situation.

  56. Molly Carls
    February 23rd, 2008

    I took pictures of my unkempt apartment complex. Is it legal to post those pictures on apartment rating websites?

  57. Andrew Flusche
    March 1st, 2008

    Molly – Posting pictures of something to rate and discuss it is probably just fine. As long as pictures aren’t being sold or used commercially, it’s pretty safe to publish them.

  58. Alice
    March 1st, 2008

    Is it okay to post pictures of people taken at work inside an office on a password protected site like piczo? They aren’t doing anything compromising and nothing uncomplimentary is said.

  59. Jane
    March 4th, 2008

    help….our hoa is always wanting proof so when the neighbor lied and said 2 or her 4 dogs were no longer with her…..I went up to my second floor bedroom and took a picture of the 4 dogs inside her fenced in backyard because her backyard is in sight of my bedroom window. the pic was sent to the hoa for proof. Now she wants to see that pic cause she is going to sue me for every cent I have cause I encroached on her privacey…………..is she right? help………….I only thought I was doing the right thing because she lied in the first place.

  60. Desiree
    March 5th, 2008

    Hello, I’m part of a tech committee at my school and we were wondering what, if any, is the law on pictures of children posted on the internet? I’m not talking about explicit pictures and such, I mean if you take just a random picture of kids in a park, do you have to get parental consent to put it on the internet? Or in a different scenario and you took pictures of kids that you know and posted it on myspace or something. If the parents saw those pictures and demanded that you remove them on what legal ground could they do that. And to what age would you need parental consent? Thank you so much.

  61. Richard Wahl
    March 21st, 2008

    I would like to know, if for instance, you are at a State institution, for example a State hospital, and you take photos of buildings that are no longer in use, there are no signs telling you that certain areas are ‘off limits’, no signs telling you that photography is not permitted, would this State run facility be considered ‘private property’ ? Photographing people may be, but I would like to know if photographing the buildings or portions of the property, be illegal, if you will?

  62. Andrew Flusche
    March 21st, 2008


    Property owned by the state is public. There can be restrictions on access or photography, but those would typically be visibly posted at the site. As long as you are allowed to be there, taking some photos is typically just fine.


  63. Andjelika
    March 24th, 2008

    If I am writing a how to book and would like to include pictures of recognizable privately owned buildings, do I have to get a realse from the owners or can I publish them as long as I take them from a public area?

  64. Andrew Flusche
    March 24th, 2008

    Andjelika – Generally you don’t need a release to publish photos of buildings, if you took them while you were on public property. But some buildings can actually be protected by copyright and/or trademark laws, so it gets a bit tricky. If you are serious about publishing a book, you should consult an attorney to get the best advice possible.

  65. jenny kramer
    March 26th, 2008

    Hi. my question is similar to Andjelikas. I live in a small town and take pictures of peoples houses, trees in their yards and people’s old boathouses and windmills. I am wanting to sell these pictures in a local venue and am wondering if I need to have permission from the owners of the homes/boathouses and such, before I can sell the photos.

  66. Andrew Flusche
    March 27th, 2008

    Jenny – For homes and small properties, a release is probably not an issue. If you are in Virginia, I would be happy to help advise you on this point. Otherwise, you should contact a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction.

  67. Brandy
    April 3rd, 2008

    Hi there. I’ve read through most of the comment explicitly and don’t see the direct answer to my question. Simply put, my husband’s mother has put pictures of OUR children on my space after we told her not to do it for safety concerns. Not only did she put their pictures, but she put names with pictures. In America, can she do this after being told, in writing, that she does not have our permission?

    Thank you!

  68. Andrew Flusche
    April 3rd, 2008

    Brandy – I encourage you to contact MySpace. It’s their site, and they have ultimate control over what is posted there. I found these two listings of “prohibited activity” in their Terms and Conditions:

    “Prohibited Content includes, but is not limited to, Content that, in the sole discretion of MySpace:

    8.14 includes a photograph or video of another person that you have posted without that person’s consent;

    8.16 violates the privacy rights, publicity rights, copyrights, trademark rights, contract rights or any other rights of any person.”

    Use the MySpace Contact Form and report the abuse.

  69. Rob
    April 17th, 2008

    In regards to Laura
    November 11th, 2007 comment about photos on militery bases. I am currently a SGT. in the United States Army. My advice for anyone wanting to take photos on any miltery bases they should ask permission from their chain of command if they are in the armed services. If not in armed service ask a miltery police officer they will give you the right answer. Because the senstivty of nature of the work performed on bases even a simple photos can be a no no. Photos of miltery aircraft on bases is a big no, no. Asking permision first always saves you a head ache in the long run. Love the site keep up the good work.

  70. [...] to Legal Andrew.com we have some references to more reading on a photographers right to take photos, see Bert Krages [...]

  71. Kelly A.
    April 27th, 2008

    I am curious about your input on adding public pictures for example, commercial buildings, residential exteriors, people in public, to my website. In mid summer I will be starting to advertise my real estate photography business. Although I do not have any clients at the moment I do need to post pictures of what my photographs are like, so I am planning to take pictures of residential

  72. Kelly A.
    April 27th, 2008

    Sorry, for some reason my previous post was cut off, I am sure it was something I did so I am going to post it again.

    I am curious about your input on adding public pictures for example, commercial buildings, residential exteriors, people in public, to my website. In mid summer I will be starting to advertise my real estate photography business. Although I do not have any clients at the moment I do need to post pictures of what my photographs are like, so I am planning to take pictures of residential & commerical exteriors, some may have people in them. I will not be selling any of them as stock photography but am using these pictures to gain business. Does this still fall under the catagory of stock photography, do I need permission to use any of the photographs? Is this legal for me to do?

  73. kent
    May 2nd, 2008

    Hello, I’m just getting started on my local action community photos. I took some photos at the local park and gave out my card. No one said they objected. However, a woman called me and said that foster children could not have their photos taken. I said did I take a picture of a foster child. I’ll be happy not to use it. Seems like she was just checking me out and didn’t offer her friends identy as I took her photo. And she didn’t ask me not to use that particular photo. Also, can I take photos of high school, college events or do I have to get permission. The newspaper takes school shots all the time. Just curious, thanks, Kent

  74. kc
    May 3rd, 2008

    I am a manager in a movie theater at the mall. Today, two of my young female employees came to me rather disturbed by an older man who, they believe, was taking pictures of them.

    Not knowing whether I even would be justified in going to the man about the issue – if he WAS taking pictures, I didn’t know if it was wrong of him to do – besides the uneasy feelings the girls felt from it – I went to the mall security guard to ask him.

    We have had a few cases of some guys who admire our young female employees – ranging from the shy nerd who kept coming by to the bold thug-type who would go into the empty theater as the girl was doing her job and cleaning after the movie let out. This all said to explain MY reason for taking the step I took to go to a security guard about it. I believe it’s our responsibility to keep our employees safe both physically and mentally. They were upset and therefore obviously felt threatened to some degree by this man.

    It ended up the security guard called in deputies which wasn’t my intention – I just wanted to know if I would be legally justified in speaking to him about it in the first place if he WAS taking pictures.

    Nothing came of it but the man was upset.

    My main question is this – even though our theater is within the shopping mall, do we have a legal right to say No to photos and place our own rules and restrictions on this type of thing? Considering it’s a movie theater, people are not permitted to have recording devices but nowadays, phones are equipped with everything under the sun.

    Thanks for any input.

  75. kc
    May 3rd, 2008

    PS – they were in an auditorium, cleaning it between shows. The man was there early for the next show so it was empty but for him and the girls.

  76. Andrew Flusche
    May 6th, 2008

    @kc – You can generally prohibit activity like this on your private property. Many stores and businesses prohibit photography, and they can do so. It’s their business.

  77. Andrew Flusche
    May 6th, 2008

    @kent – It sounds like your activity is generally within the analysis above. If you’re in a public place taking photos of public stuff, that’s ok. Publishing them can be another matter altogether.

  78. Alan
    May 9th, 2008

    General Question if you have time to answer. I am on a public beach where some ladies are sunbathing nude, or topless. Can I take pictures of them? I realise this might upset their boyfriends/husbands, or even might upset the girl herself, but, afterall, she is in public and is not in a location where she could reasonably expect it to be considered private.

    Also how about a girl shopping on a public street. Can I take her picture? Example, she is walking down the street and is wearing an outfit i would like my girl to try to find for her wardrobe. Can I take her picture?

  79. Andrew Flusche
    May 10th, 2008

    @Alan – I would never advocate taking pictures like you mention. Even if it was legal, I wouldn’t do it. Let’s be gentlemen and not treat women like objects.

  80. BuildAGirl
    May 13th, 2008

    If your at a party open to the public, on private property

    and someone takes your picture without your consent, and publishes it in the print media

    what are your rights? Do you have grounds to ask for it to be removed.

  81. andy
    May 16th, 2008

    Regarding taking photo’s of public and private buildings, I have often found that just asking the owner politely can get you great results. want to photograph a beautiful garden and put it on your web site or try and get it published and make a few $ ask them tell them what your up to you will find most people will be proud that you think its worth photographing and that picture taken from the street might well result in an invitation onto the private land to take lots of photos.

    Andrew would it be possible for you to put up a draft of a release form that people could print out as this may be very useful to carry a few around with you when taking photo’s.

  82. Andrew Flusche
    May 16th, 2008

    @BuildAGirl – News media can probably take your picture at a public event and publish it. You really don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy, if the event is open to the public.

  83. Andrew Flusche
    May 16th, 2008

    @andy – I’m glad to hear that you’ve gotten good results just by asking permission. Awesome! You can probably find a great sample release form at DocStoc.

  84. CC
    May 17th, 2008

    Exceptional discussion!

    I have a somewhat similar situation, but it’s not really regarding pictures that I have taken.

    Almost a year ago, I met a woman on a dating site. We spoke for about 8 months without ever meeting. She claimed to have terminal cancer and that she didn’t want to enter a relationship that would end prematurely. As would be expected in a long-term relationship based wholly on email and telephone conversations, she told me a great deal of information regarding her life.

    In short, most of it ended up being a lie.

    I have found that this woman is actually a high school teacher. Yes, I was hurt to find that she had lied to me over the extended long-distance relationship, but I am also now concerned with the fact that someone who is capable of such prolific and effective lies happens to hold the trusted position of high school teacher with direct access to mold our children.

    Therefore, I have posted a single Web page summarizing our story. The page includes copies of her dating service profiles, her contact information, the pictures that she had posted on the dating and other social networking sites, as well as the pictures that she had sent to me claiming to be of her. Only one of these images is actually of this woman. I also post a link to a .wav file of her voice mail admitting her lies.

    Additionally, I have posted the name of the school that employs her, a link to the school’s staff page which lists her as being employed, as well as a link to her license information which is provided online by the Indiana Department of Education. She has also written a book that was never published, but which is still included and viewable on Amazon.com. I include a link to that book which is listed as not being available for purchase.

    This page tells the story, but I have taken pains to ensure that everything stated on the page is absolutely true and that I have not used incendiary or exaggerated language. I have not promoted the site. I published it with the simple knowledge that search engines will find it and that the information will be available for anyone who might need it in any future deceptive relationships. However, she has found the page and she has threatened to mail requests for its removal to the domain registration company and the hosting company (which, ironically, is myself). She also threatens to contact the police.

    It is my belief that, since everything that is published on the page is truthful, because the only picture that is actually of her was published by her on her own MySpace page, and all other information provided is publically available, she has no leg to stand on.

    Regardless, the bottom line is that I will be removing the page, or I will at least sanitize it to the point that no specific contact information points directly to her. The relationship is over and it’s in the past. I remain concerned that she might try to perpetrate this deception on someone else, and I’d like to somehow provide evidence to those people if it might be necessary in the future. Finally, I continue to find it troubling that someone who can so easily manufacture these kinds of lies is in such a position of influence and trust with our children.

    What are your thoughts? Have I overstepped the boundaries of the law? Of propriety? Ethics? Morals?

  85. [...] Photo Law – Your Right to Take Pictures in Public [...]

  86. Elizabeth
    May 25th, 2008

    I am a member of a volunteer fire/rescue squad.
    Actually I am an honorary member (no fire/rescue training)

    I have the position of Media Contact/Public relations

    I have taken many photos of fire scenes with my own personal camera equipment.

    My chief believes that the fire/rescue dept owns these photos.

    I believe that I donate my time/services

  87. Touched By The Stars.net
    May 28th, 2008

    Hi and great site!
    My boss has a website where he sells memorabilia.
    I understand that a photograph taken in a public place of a celebrity is ok.
    But how a bout an autographed promotional poster, a signed promotional photograph – you see where I am going with this?

  88. Dr.Mike
    May 28th, 2008

    Great site!
    A 2 part question: if I took photos of people, in costume, partaking in a Halloween parade on a public street, could I sell the pix without release forms?

    Could I sell photos of people, in costume, taken indoors at a convention, without a release?

    it would seeem to me there would be no expectation of privacy, especially if the people pose for the pictures.

  89. henderson
    July 15th, 2008

    HELP!! I own property the joins a subdivision. The developers cleared the front trees and built a pond and place the logo sign at the entrance. They advistised with a picture with a “wood—–” sign and angled away from their property capturing my roof line and my trees as a background.

  90. Andrew Flusche
    July 15th, 2008

    @Elizabeth – Since you are in the Public Relations position (even volunteer), the rescue squad probably has a claim to those pictures.

    @Dr. Mike – You could potentially sell these photos, but that doesn’t mean that the purchaser can use them for commercial purposes. Most jurisdictions have laws that prevent the commercial use of someone’s photograph without written consent from the model.

    @henderson – I’m not quite sure what you are asking… There probably isn’t a problem with the developer taking a picture of part of your property and using it for advertising purposes. If you are concerned, you should contact a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction.

  91. Jodie
    July 16th, 2008

    I have been battling with my son’s (he’s soon to be a junior) theater teacher. She decided last year that no still photos w/out flash are allowed during productions. Even if I obtained copyright permission, which I have done several times. I have taken photos in the past and even have given her hundreds, not just of my child but all the students. I also have given them to the parents of the other kids in the plays. Her reasoning is that she is keeping it as close to professional theater as possible. My argument is that it is not professional theater, it’s high school theater. You are allowed to take photos of all other school activities, football, choir, band, drill team, etc. So why are we excluded. We support and spend money just like the other parents. Also, if they do have a professional videographer, why should I have to pay money for something I can do myself? It is my child. Unfortunately I have been to the Superintendent and the school board with no help. Though other schools in the district allow photographer at their productions. Please help!

  92. Andrew Flusche
    July 17th, 2008

    @Jodie – Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s anything you can do in this case. It is very common to restrict photography in a theater production, even in high school. If memory serves, I think we had a “no cameras” rule during my high school musicals (I play the baritone sax!). If you are really concerned about this, you should contact a local lawyer. Perhaps he could put some pressure on the school to allow your photos.

  93. [...] stretch of the arrest statute, the terribly written police report, and the fact that Scott Conover did nothing wrong, I would suspect the charges would get dropped relatively soon. Share and Enjoy:These icons link [...]

  94. Run DMC
    August 5th, 2008

    Hi Andrew,

    Very informative and personal site. I have a couple of preliminary questions:

    a) Would a bar be considered a public or private domain for taking pictures (assuming you obtained permission from the bar)? And would taking pictures at a bar be considered an invasion of privacy, or an individuals public right?
    b) Can a release document be digitally signed and completed online (in the event of selling and purchasing pictures from above situation for profit)? What would be an appropriate legal form for release in this matter?

    What discipline of law would this fall under if I wanted to seek consulting for a business? Intellectual property, Photo Law??, etc.

    Thank you for your insight

  95. Andrew Flusche
    August 5th, 2008

    Taking pictures inside a bar or similar place could get a little sticky. Since the bar is open to the public for sales and customers, it would be hard to argue that a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy there. But I suppose the counter-argument could be made. People routinely do things in bars that they don’t want the world to see. Perhaps there is some privacy argument.

    With that said, getting a release from the photo subjects would cover you. Yes, you could have releases signed online. E-signatures are completely legal, as long as both parties agree to them.

    This type of law is a mixture of intellectual property and personal torts (right of publicity violation is a personal injury). But any competent business attorney should be able to help you. If you’re in Virginia, I’d love to help: 540-318-5824.

  96. Run DMC
    August 5th, 2008

    “…getting a release from the photo subjects would cover you.”

    a) Would this be necessary only if there is a transaction with the image (i.e. it is purchased)? Or is it deemed necessary regardless–For instance if the image is posted on a website with no names attached as means for capturing nightlife at a public venue of entertainment, i.e. a bar.

    You can find my personal email address in an email I have sent to you as well.

    Thanks again.

  97. Andrew Flusche
    August 5th, 2008

    You probably don’t need a release to post an image like this on your website. But if someone complains about it, you might need to consult an attorney.

  98. Derk
    August 6th, 2008

    Last week i was a counselor for a youth camp of 10-13 year olds. I took a lot of pictures as there isn’t a “no photography” rule at the camp. Obviously a majority of these pictures were of minors.
    Is there anything wrong with posting any of these pics (with minors who aren’t on Facebook) to my personal Facebook account? It’s set to private, so only my friends could see. Thanks.

  99. Andrew Flusche
    August 6th, 2008

    @Derek – I would be extremely careful posting any pictures of children anywhere on the internet, unless they are your own children.

  100. Isaac Palmgren
    August 9th, 2008

    This was a fantastic resource and answered almost all of my questions. Those which weren’t answered were in the links given. Thanks!

  101. Charlie
    August 13th, 2008

    I am an amateur PR person for a non-profit cultural organization that puts on a yearly event at Central Park. They provide a free open-air concert at the exclusive venue sponsored by private funding and commerical entities.

    I take hundreds of pictures of the event, the crowds, the entertainment, the staff, etc, for use in the organization’s brochures, promotional materials, and website, which contains many pictures of entertainers on stage.

    Do I have get releases from all those people?

  102. Andrew Flusche
    August 13th, 2008

    @Charlie – You present a good question. As long as these people came to your event, it’s probably ok to post the pictures in your promo materials. You’re not selling the pictures to anyone else, and you’re not making money off them. You should be fine.

  103. [...] Photo Law – Your Right to Take Pictures in Public « Legal Andrew You have a camera. But do you know your rights when it comes to public photography? You’ll learn them here. Public photography is wide open That’s the general rule. When you’re on public property (a street, sidewalk, city park, etc) you can take pictures of what you see. [...]

  104. Stalked
    August 23rd, 2008

    I realize this thread is mainly for the protection of the photographer but I happen to be the target subject and really would like to know if what is happening to me is legal.

    I have been stalked by my neighbor for the past year. I have a restraining order against her for stalking and threats to me but she continues to stalk my by taking photos of me and my children every time we are outside in our yard etc… She must have thousands of pics by now…. Is this legal?.. Is there anything I can do?… I have not reported the picture taking because unless they seize her camera how would I prove it?

    I appreciate your input on this matter…


  105. [...] Legal Andrew: Photo Law – Your Right to Take Pictures in Public [...]

  106. vic
    August 28th, 2008

    Andrew, great post! However, it’s not clear to me how we should deal in our situation.
    I volunteer at church and help our photo team to take photos at various church events. Everyone on the team is a volunteer. We would like to know if it is legal to use these photos with people on our church’s web site w/o asking a permission from every person? Our church is large.
    Thank you!

  107. Andrew Flusche
    August 30th, 2008

    @vic – I wouldn’t worry much about taking photos at church events and then using them for the church. However, if someone complained, you should probably immediately remove the offending photo(s).

  108. COPLO1
    August 30th, 2008


  109. Andrew Flusche
    August 30th, 2008

    @COPLO1 – If you legally own an individual photo print, you can legally sell that print. However, you can’t make copies of it to sell to multiple people. And you can’t even keep one copy for yourself. You only have legal title to the single print, so that is all you have to work with.

  110. COPLO1
    August 30th, 2008


  111. Andrew Flusche
    August 30th, 2008

    @COPLO1 – First of all, please turn off your Caps Lock. It’s rude to use all caps online.

    Second, this isn’t your phone. It’s not your picture. You should try to get the phone back to its true owner. Do the right thing, and stop trying to make a buck off someone else’s misfortune.

  112. Sophie East
    September 15th, 2008

    Just wondering if it is legal for a person to take a picture from someones private website profile, and use it against them, without their permission? And for this picture to be used as evidence against them?
    Is this right?

  113. Andrew Flusche
    September 15th, 2008

    @Sophie – There’s no way to answer your question with the slim facts you’ve given. If you put a picture online, it’s pretty much like printing it in the newspaper. It becomes public, and it could come back to haunt you.

  114. Scrappyhappy
    September 24th, 2008


    I was taking pictures in a hospital lobby this evening of artwork they have there. I had had a long day of waiting for my mother to get through her cancer surgery, and waited until evening to unwind and photograph the artwork. It’s just to practice and see if I have an eye for photography, not to sell or anything. I’m not going to post them anywhere, just keep them in my computer, unmarked, to see if I get any better over time of taking pictures. An employee of the hospital (nurse) saw me, went around the corner and called security in a loud voice. I went over to her to see what the problem was and soon the security officer and her had me flanked, telling me it wasn’t a public place and due to 9/11 I could be a threat. Then I started to cry and they still didn’t let up. They simply told me in a rude fashion that it was against policy to take pictures, yet there were no signs posted. Who was wrong here? I’m really upset at the way they went about it!


  115. Andrew Flusche
    September 24th, 2008

    @Scrappyhappy – It sounds like the employees could have been more tactful, but they do have the ability to restrict pictures on their property.

  116. GeoffDodd@NetDetective
    September 27th, 2008

    Yes, that is very interesting, Legal Andrew. So basically a session of surveillance by a P.I. may be illegal if the subject could reasonably expect privacy? I always think these non-police activities of evidence gathering are real close to the legal line and could be rejected out of hand in court. Public area, yes… but reasonably expecting privacy, no! Thanks for your information Andrew. Geoff D.

  117. Betty Bizzarre
    October 3rd, 2008

    Hello I purchased hair from Brazilian suppliers who sent me pictures through email. I posted those pictures on my website to sell the product. Now the companies says they want me to remove the pictures and their company name which I have listed as my supplier of that hair. They are threatening a law suit. Is this illegal?
    I have complained to these people about the quality of the hair and now they say they are taking my complaints to their lawyer and are going to further charge me. Is that possible? They are in Brazil I am in Canada.
    I have been totally ripped off by them also they have harrassed me to no end. Hundreds of phone calls a day non stop leaving rude messages and calling me names. This has been going of for a long time. I purchased the hair at the begin of the year.
    Can anyone give me information please?

  118. Andrew Flusche
    October 3rd, 2008

    @Betty – You should contact a local lawyer who is licensed to practice in your area. This sounds like a serious situation that requires legal advice. Good luck!

  119. Kathy
    October 7th, 2008

    Hello, I have a problem with pictures I posted on my space of a 2007 Mustang my husband striped. The car belongs to his brother and sister n law who brought it to my husband to put two stripes down the middle of the car. I took photos as he was doing the work. It took over 40 hours. I placed those photos on my space and get a call 3 months later asking me to remove them because I was exposing the tag, my husband told me to just blur the tag out, and leave them there so I did. My sister n law writes me an email that wasn’t asked too nicely to remove the pictures again. My husband gets mad and replies back to her on email and tells he not to ever ask him to ever do anything for them again, so I leave the pictures there. His brother calls him the next day, and tells him that they were mad because their names weren’t mentioned as the owners of the car. I was not showing the pictures for reasons of ownership. I was posting them showing my husbands work. My sister n law starts in that she’s going to sue us because we didn’t remove the pictures. I got tired of the drama and have since removed the pictures. She claims now that she’s taking it on to court to sue. Can she really sue since I now have removed the pictures? I live in Mississippi. Thanks!

  120. Andrew Flusche
    October 7th, 2008

    @Kathy – If you are served with a lawsuit, you should find a lawyer licensed in your area. However, I don’t see how there could be any claim here. Perhaps they could get you for putting the license plate online – some type of privacy claim. But as long as you took the picture, you typically are allowed to post them online.

  121. Julie
    October 10th, 2008

    Andrew, I have a legal question for you. I will try to make this quick.10 years ago my daughter was camping for a week with her girlfriend and her family. While she was there, I didn’t know this, just found this out a month ago. but 5 girls, my daughter being one of them, was asked to be models for her to take some pics. My daughter was 13 at the time. The woman had land on the lake and took 5 girls up to her property, had them dress up in outfits and took a bunch of pictures of them.
    Now, I just found out about this talking to my daughter one day. We decided to look this ladies name up on the computer and…. there these girls pics were. One was on the cover of a book. My daughter had a couple of pictures in the book. There are pictures in the Gug. Museum of them also. She is selling these pictures for $1,0000′s of dollars.
    Now, I am wondering sence I didn’t have any idea of this, I don’t know if the other parents did or not. but I do know that none of them signed any releases, is there anything that can be done if we did decide to do something about this?
    thank you

  122. Andrew Flusche
    October 13th, 2008

    @Julie – This question depends upon your state laws. In many states, the “right of publicity” prohibits someone from using another person’s likeness for commercial purposes without written consent. Since your daughter was a minor at the time of the photos, you would have to sign for her. You should contact a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction.

  123. Nancy
    October 16th, 2008

    A photographer took pictures of my son at his school football game last year and is now using one of those pictures on her website to sell their products..They never asked my permission if they could use this picture..Even though they took this picture, do I have a right to ask them to remove my son’s picture from their website?

  124. Andrew Flusche
    October 17th, 2008

    @Nancy – Since the photos were taken out in the open at a public event, they are typically fair game. However, if your son is identifiable in the photographs, your state may have laws against the photographer using them for commercial purposes. It’s best to contact a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction.

  125. Rick Sakoda
    October 18th, 2008

    Thanks very much for a very informative website. As a fan, I have taken many photos of our WNBA professional women’s basketball team’s players both at the games, and at venues such at McDonald’s and our city zoo where the player(s) made publicized appearances to promote the team. Anyone can go to these events.
    To date, I have only made my photos public on Flickr, but was curious if some of the photos taken at the public appearances could be offered for sale on sites such as photoshelter.com? It’s my understanding that I may not sell any of my game photos – as the WNBA has a right to them – but I’d be very interested in you opinion regards the sale of the public appearance photos. Thanks very much!

  126. Andrew Flusche
    October 18th, 2008

    @Rick – If the people in the photos are identifiable, selling them could be risky. Most states have laws that require a written release before someone can use a photo of a person for commercial purposes. I would contact a local lawyer before trying to sell your photos.

  127. Hello
    October 19th, 2008

    I would appreciate receiving your insight in the following matter.
    As an architect I design programs for houses (including interior decoration). Based on those architect programs I generated 3D pictures which are almost identical to the pictures in reality. Now I would like to publish them. However, the owner of the house objects and claim for breach of privacy right. There was no agreement between us not regarding this issue and not regarding to the building (the IP is mine)
    And another thing, if I took the pictures of the house (inside and outside) just before I finished my obligations, can I use those photos and publish them (the IP is mine)

  128. Andrew Flusche
    October 19th, 2008

    @Hello – You should talk to a local lawyer for this question. The answer depends upon whether or not the state’s law recognizes a property or privacy right in the appearance of someone’s home. Some states do require written permission to commercially use a photo of a building; some do not require this.

    One way to protect yourself in the future is to include the proper language in your contract with the homeowner: they agree to allow you to use and publish 3D renderings of the house, photos, etc. But, again, you should contact an attorney to make sure you get it nailed down right.

  129. [...] Photo Law – Your Right to Take Pictures in Public [...]

  130. Dodger
    October 25th, 2008

    Can you take people’s picture from their MySpace page and post them on a blog and make fun of them?

  131. Andrew Flusche
    October 25th, 2008

    @Dodger – If you publish someone else’s pictures on your own blog, you are probably violating their copyright. This depends upon who owned the original copyright and the license they used when posting the pictures online. But the safest course is not to republish pictures that you don’t own.

  132. Matt Mayer
    October 30th, 2008

    Jack asks Ed if he can take a photo of his teacher Ed for, say, a high school newspaper.

    Ed agrees, but does not sign a release of any kind.

    Jack takes the photo and publishes it in the school paper.

    Years later, Jack’s photo of Ed shows up in Lori’s magazine profiling Ed.

    Jack says, “Hey, Lori, you need to license my photo of Ed for your magazine. Pay up or I’ll sue you”.

    Lori says, “Jack, you never got a release from Ed. I got a release saying I could use any and all images of him in my magazine. In fact, I got his life rights”.

    Does Jack nevertheless own the photo and still is entitled to payment?
    Or does Ed’s ownership of his image supercede Jack’s ownership of his photo?
    Or since Jack never got Ed’s release, does Ed still own his image rights from Jack’s photo?


  133. Andrew Flusche
    October 30th, 2008

    @Matt – Basically, Jack owns the copyright to the photo he took of Ed. Jack doesn’t have the right to publish that photo any old place he wants, without Ed’s permission. BUT Jack does have the right to enforce and protect his copyright: Jack can prevent other people from using the photo without his permission.

    With all that said, Jack and Lori should consult attorneys. The laws of the state in question could differ on what rights the photographer has. But generally, the photographer has copyright to his photos.

  134. Mottapala
    November 1st, 2008

    Hi, I’m an amateur photographer and was at a wedding as a guest recently and took some photos where the Bride and Groom were asked to pose by the “Official Photographer”. my photos were taken from completely different angles and are not at all like what the official photographer took. At the same time, I covered a lot of candid shots which the “official photographer” also took after seeing me taking those shots.

    I published these photos on a wedding magazine, after obtaining permission from the Bride and Groom. I did not use it to get any commercial gain, nor am I ever interested in becoming a wedding photographer. Now the official photographer is bad mouthing me saying that I copied his “Poses”. He has gone around telling other photographers not to let me take pictures at weddings.

    1. Can a photographer say that he will not allow others to take pictures at a wedding?
    2. can he say that he will not let anyone else take pictures while he is making the couple pose?
    3. Can he prevent me from publishing such pictures on grounds of privacy and/or any other moral rights?
    4. is it only a moral or an issue of common courtesy?

  135. Andrew Flusche
    November 2nd, 2008

    @Mottapala – I suggest you talk with an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. Frankly, as long as you had permission from the bride and groom, I don’t see how the photographer has any claim here. But it could be a professional courtesy within the photography world not to take photos of someone else’s subject. From my understanding, posing and composition is a big part of taking great photos. However, I don’t see any legal claim there.

  136. judith
    November 4th, 2008

    What an interesting article and great comments too. It got me thinking.
    When I was a child my dad was a keen photographer. He used to take pictures of myself and my sister. One time we were at a local beauty spot and a complete stranger asked if he could take pics of me by the waterfall as his own daughter wouldn’t pose for him. My dad agreed and the man took some photos. I wonder if my dad would agree so readily these days. Was 40 years ago an age of innocence? Have we all become too scared/cautious or are we just more aware?

  137. Andrew Flusche
    November 4th, 2008

    @judith – I don’t know exactly what life was like 40 years ago. But if I had a daughter and some guy asked to take a picture of her, I would definitely leave asap. Perhaps I’d even call the police. However, I might watch too many shows like Law and Order: SVU. But there are a lot of sickos in this world.

  138. Jane
    November 6th, 2008

    I have a question regarding whether I can use photos I took at a Wedding under a different studio and use them to promote my own studio? I’ve heard if you take the photo then it is your property. I hope you can clear this up for me. I live in Ohio.

  139. Andrew Flusche
    November 6th, 2008

    @Jane – If you took the photos as an employee of another company, that company owns them. They are considered works “for hire” under copyright law, which means that your employer owns the copyright. Thus, you can’t just use them on your own site without permission from the employer.

  140. Randy Jackson
    November 6th, 2008

    So I’ve got a question, and I apologize if it has already been asked. I couldn’t seem to find it.

    I am going to be shooting a highschool football game tomorrow. No one is paying me to do it. I am going on my own free will. However, I want to be able to sell the photos after the game.

    Do I need to get a release from each and every player of each team? Is there any kind of release that just the coach could sign?

    I also would like to take shots of the crowd and anyone passing by. Do I have to have a release for those shots as well?

    Thanks so much for your help.

  141. [...] at “Legal Andrew” has a great discussion going on about pictures, and what your rights are as a photographer.   Readers, [...]

  142. Military
    November 19th, 2008

    I agree on the illegal terms on taking photos on some of the installations at the bases or facilities. If it falls in wrong hands, it could be worse experience for the whole nation.

  143. Sel
    November 22nd, 2008

    Great article and excellent site! I have a question similar to another person about license plate numbers in photos/videos. I’d like to start a website and post highway photo and video footage I take while driving to highlight the high rate of dangerous maneuvers and disregard for traffic laws on certain highways. I’ve been told that it is illegal to show the license plates because it is an identifier. Is this true? If it depends on state law, any idea what to search for in order to find out? Thanks so much!

  144. Andrew Flusche
    November 22nd, 2008

    @Sel – You really need to discuss this issue with an attorney who is licensed in the state where you’ll be videotaping. There are a lot of different laws involved, so it’s not something you can easily lookup yourself.

  145. Lee
    December 2nd, 2008

    Quick question, i recently attended a concert where cameras were permitted at the show and took some amazing photos. I started selling my photos as memoriablia on a certain site and i was recently contacted by the lawyer of this band saying that i can’t sell my photos. i thought it was my right to sell my own property. And how come there are so many people selling memoriablia when it’s not legal? i’m just confused.

  146. Andrew Flusche
    December 2nd, 2008

    @Lee – If you have been contacted by a lawyer about this, I highly recommend speaking with an attorney who is licensed in your area. You may not be able to sell the photos if the people are recognizable in them. And just because some people do things, that doesn’t mean it is legal.

  147. StephCarolyn
    December 12th, 2008

    What about if someone infringes your watermarked pictures and uses it as their own on the web via a site such as myspace, without your consent.

    How should I go about this?
    The site itself have not done a great deal about it, although she has taken the single picture down, but I’m aware of her still distributing other copies of mine by cropping and defacing them.

    I would really like to take her to court
    as this has happened to numerous others too in the past
    and having it done to me, is now the final straw!

    I have the original picture too.
    and also kept screenprints as evidence of the usage of that picture on the site, as well as screenrpints of the messages between me and her in which I asked for her to take down my pictures.

    Please let me know!

  148. Michelle
    December 24th, 2008

    I have a quick question.. I am still new to photography and am unsure of some of the laws. My sister wanted me to take pictures of my daughter for her. We set up a cute background and they turned out amazing! When I went to post them on my website, she through a fit and told me that I didn’t have the right to do so. I was under the assumption that if I took the pictures, they were mine to post. So who is right?

  149. Michelle
    December 24th, 2008

    Ha, it must be late, I just read my post.. i meant she asked me to take pictures of my NIECE.. thanks

  150. Brent
    December 24th, 2008

    Hello, first of all, thank you for all the advice provided through your blogs.

    I am building a website which will provide a local delivery service to campuses and downtown areas in my city. I am wondering if it is legal for me to take pictures of the signs in front of the campuses and use them as promotion on the banner at the top of my site. I am sure that the actual logos are off limits without permission, but I am unsure if I take a photo from a public street of their sign with the logo on it, if that would be ok for me to use.

    For example, the banner I have up now on http://www.fortwayneneeds.com (site is live but has not been publicized and business is not active yet) shows the IPFW sign with their logo on it. This is a picture that my developer pulled off the web, and I have no intention of using this picture, but if I were to take a picture like this, would I be able to post it?

    Thanks in advance for your advice.

  151. Andrew Flusche
    December 24th, 2008

    @StephCarolyn – If you are interested in taking someone to court, I highly recommend contacting an attorney who is licensed in your jurisdiction. Good luck!

    @Michelle – This is a tricky question. As a photographer, you usually hold the copyright to your photos. But this doesn’t mean that you can just do what you want with them. When a person is identifiable in a photo, that person (or their parent, if the subject is a child) has a right to privacy and the right to control the use of their image. Particularly, you can’t use a person’s photo for commercial purposes without their consent.

    @Brent – The main issue your question brings up is trademark infringement. You can’t use someone else’s trademark to promote your business. There are exceptions to this, and your use might work. But I suggest contacting a licensed trademark lawyer in your area.

  152. Adrian B.
    January 6th, 2009

    Great site thanks. Question, I was shooting for a nightlife magazine/website at a local bar from which I had the GM’s permission to and I took a photo of a woman who took off her shirt while riding a mechanical bull. She was still wearing a bra of course. I published the photo (s) on the nightlife site and I got an email from her threatening lawsuit. The photos are already on the site and I can’t take them down personally. Does she have to contact the website? What are the grounds on this?

  153. Joe L
    January 7th, 2009

    Am I safe if I only post photos of myself in public places on blogs etc? No other people in the background. If some unknown background person is captured and put up on a web site for non-commercial use, can they sue, like say a beach scene? (I realize that a lot of blogs now are becoming commercial, in that they sell the information to advertisers to allow banner ads and such). Also, what if say copywritten information like movie posters, pictures of paintings are captured in the background. Do you need permission for that too?

  154. ChewieFan
    January 7th, 2009

    What about pix of pets? If I take a picture of a dog in the park, do I need to get a release from the dog’s owner if I want to sell the picture. If so, if a dog has no collar and is just running free am I “safe” in assuming he is a stray?

  155. Andrew Flusche
    January 7th, 2009

    @Adrian – This is a complicated question that you should consult a local attorney on. It sounds like this photo is being used for commercial purposes AND that the lady is identifiable in it. She might be able to prevail on a privacy claim on those grounds alone.

    @Joe – It’s typically ok to publish photos of yourself (as long as you have rights to the photo itself). Incidentally including something or someone in the background of the photo probably won’t be a problem, as long as the photos aren’t being used for commercial purposes.

    @ChewieFan – This question would depend upon the jurisdiction in question. In Virginia, people don’t have a privacy right that would prevent you from selling a public picture of their dog. But some states might extend privacy protection to personal property.

  156. rebekah
    January 8th, 2009

    maybe someone can help me i purchased some photos of me from a photographer and she wont let me have the right to the ones i bought, i know JC Penny’s does it, is there a law that states that im allowed the right to the photos i have purchased?

  157. Andrew Flusche
    January 10th, 2009

    @rebekah – This largely depends upon what you agreed to with the photographer. The photographer might retain copyright in the photos, only giving you prints of specific photos. Or you might get copyright to the photos, in which case you could do anything you want with them.

  158. Aaron
    January 12th, 2009

    Is it legal to take pictures of cars at the autoshow and sell them or do I need to get permission from each car company. Does it matter if there logo is showing on the car. I wanted to put a collection of cars up.

  159. Andrew Flusche
    January 12th, 2009

    @Aaron – This would depend upon the specifics of the show. The rules of admission might preclude you from taking pictures for commercial purposes. If the show doesn’t prohibit commercial photos, you could probably sell photos that you take.

  160. Paul
    January 15th, 2009

    Andrew, great forum.

    I wish to setup a site to expose lazy people, legitimately lazy people who do not clean off their cars in the winter. I want to be able to have people snap pictures of cars driving down the road with all the snow on the car and just a small slice of windshield exposed that they can barely see through. I would accept submissions, and modify the images to remove any license plate identification and only accept images taken on public streets.

    I read most of the posts, (there are a lot of them) and based on them I believe I am within the rights of the law to do this. Can you suggest any issues with this type of site. I plan to have advertising on it to generate some funds to support the cost of the site.

  161. Brent
    January 15th, 2009

    I would submit pics for this, definitely, but it is hard to take pictures of my own car while I am driving. :) Guilty.

    Seriously, though, I don’t see what would be the problem if you remove all identification.

  162. Andrew Flusche
    January 15th, 2009

    @Paul – I agree with Brent. If you’re not posting anything that identifies people or shows their faces, this idea should be fine. It sounds like you’ll just be posting pictures of cars that were taken in public. That’s usually no problem.

  163. Worried Father
    January 17th, 2009

    @Desiree I suggest you read about COPPA (Children Online Protection and Privacy Act of 1998) It has very specific rules about posting things related to children online. Essentially if there’s enough information to identify the child (A photo and either parents first and last name, the child’s first and last name in and of itself regardless of accompanying photo etc.) then the content is illegal without parental consent. Inform them they do not have your consent and you’re golden.

    I’m having an issue with my Ex’s boyfriend (Long story, I wish the 14yr old he was “with” a few years back would’ve reported him for abuse of power over a minor and his sexually predatory tendencies)
    Anyway he has photos of my 4 year old up on Facebook, tagged with his own name, some tagged with my daughter’s mother’s name, all listed with my child’s first name only.

    I’m looking for grounds to ask Facebook to request the photos be removed, unfortunately as it is. They’d likely just remove the tags of the mother’s name (parent) and say that the child is no longer identifiable. So I need to find something more concrete than COPPA.

  164. rachel
    January 19th, 2009

    I have a question if someone can help me please, i just found out the other day that my ex posted my children’s pictures along with his on a dating site, that is one pic of him by himself and one of our three children together, is this allowed??? I am very upset about this matter and i wrote to the dating site to ask them how they allowed this to happen, i have asked for someone to get back to me from the dating site to give me reassurance that it will never happen again. I dont really think i need to explain why this is so distressing! Is he allowed to do this my children are aged 10, 7 and 2. Thanks for your time

  165. [...] people have questions about this stuff. I’d advise starting here and looking through the other three links provided at the end of the page. Laws very according to [...]

  166. Andrew Flusche
    January 24th, 2009

    @rachel – There are a couple of issues to look at here. Is your ex the father of the children? Who took the pictures that he posted? Depending upon these answers, he may or may not be able to post the pictures online. If you are really concerned, you can contact an attorney who is licensed in your jurisdiction.

  167. Jason
    February 23rd, 2009


    Thank you very much for having this site and being willing to help give a better understanding in such areas.

    I am trying to understand three issues:

    1) My parents own a retail store that I work for, is it legal for us to take photos of the things we sell for advertisement and to show on our website the items we have for sale and to sell them online? We aren’t selling the photos, but the items itself.

    2) I’m also not completley certain from the responses above about photos or videos taken at church. I would want to take photos of events, people, children, etc. to put up on our website. In some answers you sound like it woudl be fine for me to have a video or picture of our children’s church, etc. as long as if someone complains I take the photo down, yet othertimes you seem to suggest never posting a picture with children in it. Obviously we don’t want any trouble and aren’t up to anything fishy. If permission is required up front for the children, is signed release required? I live in Michigan, so am not in your area, if I need to search out local laws, what term woudl I use to try to say google for michigan laws on this topic?

    We aren’t selling the photos or anything like that, its just to show our church and what we are doing etc.

    3)Also does the laws for photo’s translate equally to video? Can one take video in public and it be just fine? If you have the persons image on the video plus their audio, does that complicate things? If going out in public and interviewing people on the video, is verbal permission enough to proceed with posting the video online, again not commercially, or woudl a written thing need to be signed?

  168. Jason
    February 23rd, 2009

    Sorry for another comment, but also how does pictures on the wall, coca cola cans, etc. relate to the legal status of a photo or video? For example on HGTV most shows seem to show pictures and paintings on the wall, I have noticed one show that blurs most of them out, though I actually think that show is flimed in Canada so could be different there. But do I need to worry about other people’s products in a photo? Like if I am taking pictures for a “tour” of our church facilities, do I have to blur out pictures on the wall, or what not? If I have permission to film/photograph in the church by the Pastor and or board of directors or what not, can people expect privacy in the church? I wont be taking pictures of people picking their noses or anything, atleast not on purpose! Thanks much – Jason

  169. Andrew Flusche
    March 1st, 2009

    @Jason – It sounds like you have a LOT of questions on this topic. I just can’t dig into all of them. I suggest contacting a business lawyer in Michigan for the questions about your parent’s store. For the church questions, perhaps an attorney in the congregation would be willing to research the issue and advise you guys what to do.

  170. Nelson
    March 10th, 2009

    I am interested to know what rights the author of a play has over photographs of a production of that play. It seems that, short of photographing the actual script, they have none.

    Do the director, lighting, actors, et. al., have rights to photographs I take of a performance?

  171. Andrew Flusche
    March 10th, 2009

    @Nelson – It depends. (Typical lawyer answer.) But it really does depend upon the specific situation. The play writer / director / actors may not have any copyright to photographs that you take. BUT many tickets for performances have specific language that legally prohibits you from taking photographs. They might be able to come after you for breach of contract (the ticket is a type of contract). I would only take photos if it is specifically authorized.

  172. Mike
    March 24th, 2009

    In 2001 I got a photo at the Daytona 500 that was requested during a national news conference. To date I’m the only person to get the photo that was requested. Since then I have gotten it autographed by all the drivers in it. Do I have the right to sell duplicates of that autographed photo?

  173. Andrew Flusche
    March 24th, 2009

    @Mike – I strongly suggest talking with an attorney who is licensed to practice in your state. You probably have the rights to sell the photo (and copies of the photo). But you might not, since it was taken at a professional sporting event.

  174. Gary
    April 9th, 2009

    I and a pro photographer but had never had this presented to me and need input. I would like to go to a soccer tournament out of state and would like to take pictures of my son’s team as I always have so I can provide pictures for the parents of the other players as well as myself. The games are played in a public soccer complex no admission is charge, the thing is I received a email promoting a photography company promoting advance sales of photos and as a side note they included this statement.

    “Origination XYZ has entered into a contractual agreement with
    ABC Photography allowing professional pictures to be taken only
    by their photographers. ABC Photography is our official
    tournament photographer. Any photographer appearing to be professional
    or having a lens of longer than 8 inches will be asked to halt any
    photography and/or leave the premises.”

    My lens are 10 and 14 inches and I do stand out when taken pictures. Can I shoot even though I do not intend to profit or publish any of the photos and what rights do they have to stop me? This would be good to know, I may find myself in the same situation as I am the photographer hosting the event.

  175. [...] ARTICLE FROM legalandrew.com [...]

  176. Andrew Flusche
    April 10th, 2009

    @Gary – It sounds like you may be in a pickle. I’m not sure if they can force those contractual terms on you, but they might be able to. I suggest contacting a lawyer who is licensed in your state to discuss the situation.

  177. dano
    April 22nd, 2009

    Just curious. How does photography on public property fit in when there are claims of harrassment?

    That is, if the person you are photographing says you are harrassing them. Do they have a legal foot to stand on?

  178. Marc M
    April 23rd, 2009

    A lot of great info here, I still need to read through some more of it.

    But I have a question that’s been bothering me.

    I run a website where I take photos of old abandoned buildings in my area. I don’t do the whole “Urban Exploration” thing – I take all of the photos from public property or get permission if I want to take photos from private property, I NEVER trespass to get a photo.

    So I have no concern about my own photos.

    But occasionally people do send me photos of old buildings that they’ve taken, and once in a while some of the photos have obviously been taken from private property.

    I post the pictures on my site and am wondering if I should have any concern about this? Even though I, myself, have not trespassed to take the photos is their any legal concerns about posting someone else’s pictures that were taken while trespassing?

    Thank you

  179. Andrew Flusche
    April 25th, 2009

    @Marc – You should probably discuss this question with a local attorney. It’s possible that the property owners could have some type of invasion of privacy claim against anyone who publishes photos that were taken while trespassing.

  180. secretbattles
    May 8th, 2009

    Hi Andrew– Great site, lots of good info. I live in VA [and know this is where you're licensed] and I had a question about taking pics in public, posting them, then making defamatory claims. There is a twitterer who stakes out bars and takes pictures people of behaving badly. The pictures are then posted, with the names of the individuals attached, and harsh statements calling them derogatory names. After reading the info you’ve posted, it doesn’t seem that there is anything which prohibits the pics from being released, but are there any provisions which don’t allow the name to be attached and derogatory comments made? Side note: I haven’t been a victim of this, I’m just curious if this is legitimate.

  181. Andrew Flusche
    May 8th, 2009

    @secretbattles – I would never advise someone to do what you described. The poster of these pictures and comments is opening himself up to a defamation / invasion of privacy claim. I can’t say whether or not it would be a winner, but it sounds like a dangerous activity.

  182. secretbattles
    May 8th, 2009

    Thanks for the info! I have a feeling it will end badly for the mysterious person doing this

  183. littlemama
    May 18th, 2009

    hey, I am a mother of a four year old boy. My husband left me to go be with an eighteen year old sociopath who claimed to “love” my son. I always had full custody of him, and was very upset his dad put him in the middle of it with this girl, but did not have the heart to totally take his dad away b.c. of her. Anyway, she LOVES to take picture, mostly of herself. But also, humans she sees as objects she can manipulate as well. (after they broke up, she called Dept of Children and Families making false allegations of child abuse, to send the kid she loves to a foster home) So, it’s sometime later I find a blog she kept private from dad,( who asked her never to put his picture up as if she is his parent) And there she is with him, under the caption “it’s hard work but it’s rewarding” .It’s just a little too much to take from a twenty year old who did anything she could to make sure his dad was hardly ever there for us. WHAT CAN I DO?!!!ahhhh!!!! I’m just so angry.

    thanks in advance.

  184. WILLIE
    May 19th, 2009

    Why can someone be allowed to take a photos of others and than be allowed to sell it to a magazine and make money? I don’t think it’s right because people deserve their privacy. The Priest that has been going out with a woman has been in the news and now his photo is coming out in Magazines and is he able to sue them for displaying him wothout his permission?

  185. Fritz Koenig
    May 28th, 2009

    Apparently, I have uncovered a trend in my local court to SLAPP people who attempt to use cameras to document neighbor disputes with civil harassment restraining orders. Three such independent cases have become known to me, one of them is my own case.

    The local judges appear to be creating a new tort – “Brandishing a Camera”. The plaintiffs are clearly enraged that cameras are pointed at them and Judges are using the force of the State to stop the use of cameras for legitimate purposes.

    I seek help take these issues to California Court of Appeal.

    I live in an isolated desert community about 40 miles North of Palm Springs. Many people know the area as the location of Joshua Tree National Park.

    Below is not a summary of my particular case (there appears to be a trend here as we know of two other very similar cases), but a description of the public import of these cases.

    Can your organization offer any help with these cases in some way? We have already received some help from the First Amendment Project in Oakland, CA. However, these issues are larger than FAP’s scope and resources.

    Public Policy Import of the Cases


    Photography is a weapon?

    A photojournalist for whom “pictures are words” necessary for optimum communication, overtly created images of the plaintiffs to document, record, and communicate the events of property trespass dispute, code violations, neighbor to neighbor dispute, the plaintiff’s intrusion at a gay civil rights rally, and other events of dispute between the parties which has continued for a period of 5 years.

    The plaintiffs complain that the photography in and of itself were acts of civil harassment. The Judge’s order of a civil harassment complaint against the photojournalist mandates him, the defendant, to act to deliver to the local Sheriff Department all copies of images which portray the prevailing plaintiffs of the action.

    In effect, the civil harassment order mandates that the photojournalist provide evidence that could be used to incriminate him.

    The plaintiffs demonstrated at trial that they, while not being serious photojournalists, also used tactical photography in preparation of petitition of the government, however, plaintiff’s photography was very often covertly obtained.

    The photojournalist is also enjoined from any future photography of the plaintiffs whether or not they attempt to perpetrate additional property violations or misdemeanors.

    The rationale for this mandate and injunction includes, and we quote, “You [the photojournalist] use the camera as a weapon”.

    The judge did not mean that the photojournalist swung the camera and tripod so as to physically assault the plaintiff. What the judge did mean by adopting this statement from the testimony of the plaintiff is not clear beyond the notion that the camera, representing the potential to capture its subject in the raw form of the subject with no opportunity for the subject to manipulate, censor, or control the resultant image captured, threatens to disempower an individual on the order that a gun pointed at the subject disables the rightful freewill of the subject.

    Brandishing a camera is the new crime in germination in this case. Similar California cases which have already been adjudicated in favor of supression of use of cameras as tools to resolve neighbor with neighbor disputes are on the books. However, none have been published so far to clearly establish the rules in Califonia.

    If the Judge’s existing orders against the photojournalist are allowed to stand, the freedom of homeowners, and at large citizens, to use video cameras as legitimate tools preparatory to petition of the government to document and communicate grievances of a continuing or recurring nature will be further chilled and subject to increasing likelihood of needless suppression and prior restraint by the State of California. We believe such chilling is detrimintal to good public policy as it limits the public ability to capture and publish the full truths of our condition.

    Each media of communication is particlarly efficient and apt at communicating particular classes of thoughts and ideas. The produce of cameras — pictures — are uniquely powerful and viscerally direct in ability to communicate certain thoughts, ideas, and emotions of the human condition. State imposed limitation and control of pictures, and the photographer whether amatuer or paid press members, necessarily limits not only the range of human expression but the range of human existance and self awareness – the maximum truth and understanding can not be communicated when the media is of a limited palette. In order to justify such a limitation, the State must show an overriding public need.

    In this case, the State has not only failed to meet this standard, it has not even attempted to consider the need of the public to petition the government with the most powerful tools available, and, the value thereof. The Judge certainly failed to make findings of fact and failed to explain his reasoning in balancing these seemingly competing interests. He simply assumed that each individual has a right to censor images which portray them to the government.

    For this reason we believe this case should be taken to the appellante level so that the interest of the public to permit use of the best tools of communication for a particular topic and the interests of the individual to manipulate and control their image can be properly weighed against each other and resolved.

    Separate from the large public policy issue are simple errors of the trial court. Errors of logic, of misquoting the photojournalist, and most egregiously of simply fabricating facts to fit a simple model the court created to explain a choice few events of the over all 5 year period.

  186. Rolando
    June 1st, 2009

    Hi Andrew,

    Very good site, I just have a few questions questions:

    a) Would a mall common area,(hallway) with playplace be considered a public or private domain for taking pictures? And would taking pictures at a mall of ones own kids playing be considered an invasion of privacy, or an the malls public right?
    b) Can a security guard who is also a police officer off duty force one to not take pictures when there are no sign prohibiting this. And also when they have a live feed of web cameras online in the mall, that allow you to not only watch but also capture move the place of the camera,(panning), which should null void any and all supposed claimes to privacy?

    What discipline of law would this fall under if I wanted to seek consulting for an important paper I am writting? Criminal Justice Program??, etc.

    Thank you opinion

  187. C
    June 11th, 2009

    The High School Swim Meets are held at a municipal pool . There is no restriction to public entry or fee for the meets.

    The sports/activity waiver for the high school includes a provision for the school to post photos of athletes competing in sports on the schools website and to include pictures in school publications, including the yearbook, and allows permission for media coverage at games/events. Sports photos of athletes taken at the games are available on the local paper’s website for a nominal fee, between $5-$10 per print depending on size.

    A teammate’s parents hired a professional photographer to take photos and videos of their son’s performance at a swim meet. In addition to photos of their son, the photographer also took many photos of all the athletes, both during competition and between events. The photos were posted on the photographer’s website, and prints were offered for sale.

    About a dozen of the 100 photos posted were of female swimmers taken when they first got out of the water in wet competition suits, which were semitransparent in the photos and lighting. Generally, both male and female athletes pull on warmups immediately after swimming, both for warmth and modesty. There were also several taken while athletes were stretching from provacative angles.

    All the children are minors. No one was asked to sign anything by the private photographer, except for the parents who hired her. They were pleased with the photos she took of their son.

    Several parents, and the school, requested the objectionable photos of their children be removed from the website and not offered for sale, claiming they were lewd, indecent, immodest, and a violation of the athletes’ privacy, and not covered by the school’s photo waiver.

    The photographer claims the waivers apply to all photos, that it was a public event, she holds the copyright, and can offer them for sale. She also contends they are not sexually exploitive.

    How can we avoid a repeat of this in the future?
    What law or doctrine applies to protect child athletes in such circumstances?
    How does the access provided in a waiver for the local newspaper and Cable Access Channel differ from that granted a private photographer, if at all?

  188. Ilya
    June 27th, 2009

    I’m a builder from North California.
    I started my business about 2 years ago. Before that I was working as a independent contractor for Development company, however I held own license with this company and got wages on 1099 as contractor. Basically we were building houses and I ran all construction activity on all projects, managing all contractors, and working myself as well when needed.
    I got some of the projects posted on my website and now the Developer asks me to remove pictures of his properties from my website, because i never asked him for permission. But that’s not his properties anymore for a long time now and he was aware of this fact that I’m making a pictures for my own portfolio back than. I’m using a business name that is actually is a DBA of my personal name, and I’m not posing as a company that never existed on a moment when those pictures was made; also I’m not selling those pics.
    My understanding is that me is still me and, no matter what DBA I have chosen for present time or will have later and I have right to let my potential customers see work that I have done in a past.
    So far I’m refusing to remove any pics until I will be able to prove him that I can use my pictures on my website. What do you know about cases like mine? Should I remove them per his request?

  189. rick
    July 5th, 2009

    I was at a state lake in nebraska and was taking pictures. Of jet skier’sand wake boarders. Also there were girls in bikinis on the beach. A nebraska game and wildlife employee pulled up and ask to look at my pictures he said that I had to delete the one’s of the girls. Was it illegal to take the pictures. thanks

  190. Todd on the Border
    July 13th, 2009

    I was taking video and pictures on the border crossing in Laredo, when two custom agents came across the street and grabbed my camera, he then started deleting and told me it’s against the law to take pictures of the custom checkpoint. Is it against the law to film or picture goverment agencies while on public property?

  191. jp
    July 19th, 2009


    two 8 yr olds selling lemonade on the street neightborhood corner

    I wanted to take photos for my portfolio (nothing would go online at all)

    so I walked and asked parents(mom like ok) dad says no;

    I respect that, I showed credentials, I.D. and handed business card.

    and bought some lemonade

    What if I took the pics of them selling lemonade to other kids or adults

    great photo op missed.. but what is the laws? could I have taken them wher they would not be sold or exploited in any way negative.

    honest military guy here.

  192. Andrew Flusche
    July 19th, 2009

    @jp – There is generally nothing illegal about taking some photos like you described. Your state could prohibit using those photos for any commercial purpose without the consent of the parents, but that doesn’t prohibit you from taking the shots.

    But any time children are involved, everyone gets really on edge. The real question may be whether or not you want to deal with the police, possibly being brought in for questioning, etc.

  193. Fritz Koenig
    July 19th, 2009


    Well, it happened again. Another restraining order SLAPPed on law abiding Morongo Basin residents who used cameras to capture evidence in preparation for petitioning the government to stop trespassing upon their land by the next door neighbor.

    The Ross’ lived in their residence for over 20 years. New neighbors Mitchells move in a install a motocross race track complete with two earth berms for jumps. Ross’ are told by code enforcement to “be our eyes and ears” and they proceed to photograph their neighbors performing suspected code violations.


    A civil harassment restraining order is granted to stop the Ross’ from
    photographing the children. Ross’ must turn in their or sell their firearms. (Did I mention that the San Bernardino Sheriff stole about 500 such guns from the evidence locker room over a period of several years and plead guilty?)

    Complete abuse of the california 527.6 civil harassment law which was designed only to protect people from being murdered or harmed by wackos who stalked them for psychotic or malicious reasons.

    Case CIVMS900266 – MITCHELL -V- ROSS
    Case CIVMS900013 – FALOSSI -V- KOENIG
    Case CIVMS800890 – MOORE-V-KOENIG

    Falossi and Moore are already at the Forth District of Appeal. Mitchell v. Ross is headed there. Unfortunately, BURACCHIO -V- WATTERSON occurred a few years ago so is not eligible for appeal.

  194. Quest721
    July 24th, 2009

    Maybe this has been covered already, but I’ll still ask my question. I just wondered how it works if you plan on selling your photo’s. Does that change anything legally of what I can take pictures of. For example, I’d like to take drive and find horses out in the country in pasture and get some photo’s of them and wondered if legally it’s ok to publish them and sell them. Do I need permission from the owners of the animals?

  195. peter
    August 11th, 2009

    I was confronted by lifeguards asking to see my photos/ they said i was apervert and i took photos of children and lifeguards. I was followed and harrassed and left the beach. I cant go back soon. USA? ny?

    Chased out of subway too. Did not want to be arrested.

    I like taking photos of anything that moves and does not move.

    I like color and will take a photo and not look for children or lifeguards if i see the compoition is a great photo.

  196. Originalname37
    August 18th, 2009

    When a stranger does something obnoxious to me (yells at me on my bike from their car, gives me the finger in traffic, etc.) I just smile, pull out my camera and take their picture. They usually shut right up. They’ve lost anonymity. I’ve considered posting them on the web with descriptions of the rude act, (a hall of shame) but so far haven’t. Just seeing their reactions once I’ve taken the shot is typically enough to make me feel better.

    1) Is there any way that what I’ve done can be construed as illegal (these are always in public places)?

    2) If I post them on the web, have I crossed a legal line? I know it’s rude, but is it illegal in the U.S.?


  197. Dennis Hook
    August 21st, 2009

    I’m a member of a volunteer fire department. I have been taking pictures at emergency scenes (fire, rescue EMS, etc) by request of the Chief at station. For the past two years there has never been a problem with me selling any of these pictures on my website.

    Just to make it clear there are no pictures given away or sold that show serious injury or fatality at the scene of an individual.

    They still want me to take pictures for them to use for training, their website and other news articles, but have advice me that I can’t sell the pictures on my website. I believe this is coming more from the State Attorney office to the Chief, why I’m not sure.

    Do they have the right to do that?

    To add to this situation once they are posted on the fire department website there is nothing stopping anyone from downloading that picture from their website at no cost, so why would it matter if I happen to sell a picture.

    They don’t have a problem with taking the pictures and legally since most, if not all rescue and fire calls are on public streets it’s legal.

    I don’t want to give up my membership with the fire department and would like to explain to them that they don’t nor does the State have the right to stop me from selling any pictures that I take. I felt best to get some legal advice on this matter from you.

    As a volunteer member of the fire department we are like family. I’m hoping I can explain that they don’t have that right to force me not to sell these pictures if I wish and point them to some legal US Constitution ruling.

    I believe that since I took the pictures I should have the right to post on my website and sell if I wish. How does the law stand behind me on this matter? I live in the State of Maryland.

    If I’m wrong on this and they do have the right, then that leaves me with only two ways to go.

    1. Stay a member, continue to take pictures and give them to the fire service and can post on my website, but not sell them.

    2. Quit from being a volunteer member and continue to take pictures as a private citizen, still still give them to fire service, but now I can post to my website and still sell on my website.


  198. amoytotso
    August 24th, 2009

    dude, what if i post someone else’s dressed as a wonderwoman without their consent and put the name of that someone as a title for the picture, have i violated a law? pls help….

  199. nairodk
    September 11th, 2009

    My neighbor takes photos and videos of the neighborhood kids while they play in the street or our yards. He has been asked by several adults in the neighborhood to stop and becomes angry and defensive when we do. He is not a photographer…or employed in any business at all. Often you will see him watching us through a camera lens or binoculars, even peering into our homes. He never steps on our property. Despite years of complaining to the police, no action has been taken. What can we do to get this potentially dangerous man to stop? your advice is much appreciated

  200. Little Miss Moonshine
    September 15th, 2009

    I thought that a “reasonable expectation of privacy” was only a reason against the police or other government official not against a private person. Like the Lewinsky case when her friend told the police about what happened with Clinton. What is the basis that says that a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy from a private person?

  201. Randy
    September 20th, 2009

    I was just wondering where the law stood on an adult male (18 yrs.) has taken pictures of my 8 year old Step-duaghter, without our permission, as she was walking down the road to our house from the public schools designated bus stop. keep in mind, I do not exactly have proof of the pictures, but every time she walks down the road he comes out of his house with a camera and very anxiously takes photos in the direction of my daughter. just wanted to know if you could help me out. thankyou,


  202. Nelson
    September 21st, 2009

    Sounds like totally legal, and probably innocuous. They might even be pretty good pictures. Why don’t you approach this kid and buy a couple shots from him?

    If there is a legal issue here, it doesn’t involve the pictures; and if he’s standing on his porch looking in the direction of your step-daughter who is on a public street, I can’t imagine that could be illegal!

    When I re-read your post, you give the impression that your fear is this kid wants to bone your kid. I find that highly unlikely.

  203. Shawndra
    September 30th, 2009

    I am a parent that wants to walk into my kids’ classroom ( where I am supposedly welcomed) and take pictures of my two daughters’ typical day and little friends that they’ve made. Well, the teacher personally told me that some parents and issues with that, so she made sure that any pictures of my kids with any other kids in the background was deleted!:( Is that legal?! Also, I had posted up my daughters’ preschool graduation photos on Myspace. The program director made a stink about that too!:( All because other kids were in the background! What should I do?! This is so frustrating for a fun-loving picture-happy mother such as myself!

  204. Ninad
    October 3rd, 2009

    I have one comment and one request for advice.

    The comment is that…in a few tourist attractions especially in India..for some weird or commercial reasons they prohibit taking pictures. Also pictures are prohibited at some places of worship in India.

    I wanted to ask for advice regarding searching for pictures on flickr which are part of creative commons and putting them up on my website. I usually ask the photographer for permission or let them know I have listed their pictures on my website. Is there anything else, I need to do to be legally protected. Thanks.

  205. Kimrod
    October 5th, 2009

    I work for a forturne100 company as a contract employee. Recently, they wanted to take our pictures for a promotional week.

    Is it legal for them to take our pictures without our consent? As soon as you walked out of the elevator at our workplace they ambushed employees with cameras.

    I can see if it is for an ID badge, but this was for a “Customer CareWeek Kickoff.” Any thoughts?

  206. anon
    October 8th, 2009

    if i just want to take pictures outside of a movie theater, do i still need to ask permission? (i’m taking a photography class)

  207. Lorry Clouse
    October 12th, 2009

    Someone is using a photo from MY twitter page on their blog page. The photo is of my minor daughter (A few months old). I asked for it to be removed, to no avail. Can I sue for them posting this on a public forum without my consent? They live in Texas, I live in Ohio.

  208. PhotoMan
    October 15th, 2009

    Air Force One came to my hometown recently, and I was near the airport (not inside, but outside of it along the fence) and got to see the plane land. The airport is the main airport, an international airport in the metro area of a major market city. A police officer on hand said no photos for security reasons and after it landed and was taxi-ing, the police officer said we could take a photo. I got a few nice shots with the camera and lens I have since I do some still photography work on the side. Eventhough there was a fence in front of me, you can’t tell there was a fence in the way. Is it ok to put this on my facebook profile? Also the fence was on grass, a few feet from the curb, is that airport property or public property. Isn’t the airport consided public since it is an international airport in a metro area? I have put “Photo By:…” and my name in a corner of the photos that I took (not anyone else), but have not posted them on my profile. I did my homework looking at wikipedia (spelling) about Air Force 1, the famous AF1 flyover incident, and White House military office. Also looked on the offical White House website…nothing about taking photos is prohibited and putting it on websites is prohibited. My photos are nothing that could be of a sercurity concern, just standard shots of the plane. Only one photo I took when it was taxi-ing where you can see under the wing cause it was turning as I snapped the picture, but you can’t tell anything by it. Its not for commercial use, just my porfolio to show my work. Besides, there is amature video on youtube about AF1 where you can see the plane from different angles.

  209. Jon
    October 15th, 2009

    While pictures of my daughter’s team were being taken I (parent) was told by ph-er that I’m not allowed to take any shots . This situation took place on property of the public school. Who was at fault?

  210. Allen
    October 17th, 2009

    I have a neighbor and from behind their house (East) the moon rises with great luster and beauty. Well I took a few shots of it making sure not to get any rooftops or trees in the shot. Plus I used the flash at about 8-9 at night. Anyways, the neighbor is insisting that I’m taking photos of their car, kids, dog, pretty much everything under the sun. I’ve tried to explain to him and even offered to have him look at the photos, but all the neighbor does is get angry, cuss, and calls the police. Besides finding another spot, which is very hard since trees block the view for miles. Does he have the right to tell me to stop taking photos?

  211. George Richard Wilkes
    October 17th, 2009

    I could go into detail, but my question is basically: When do I actually own a picture that is taken with my own camera? Do I always own it (if, for example, I hand the camera to someone and he/she takes a picture of me), or do I only own it if I myself take the picture with my own camera?

    This could also be an issue if I hand someone my camera and they take a picture of me with a celebrity.



  212. Nelson
    October 18th, 2009

    Allen, no he does not. But you don’t need a flash for your moon picture if you’re not including any foreground — turning it off might reduce the attention your neighbor has been giving you, too.

  213. Darren
    October 20th, 2009

    To post or not to post

    I am in my 40′s now and have found on Facebook an alumni web site for an elemenatary school that I used to go to back in the 70′s and am wondering if there are any legal issues or privacy issues that would require a release first before placing the class photos on this Alumni web site. Thanks for any help on this matter.

  214. Marc M
    October 20th, 2009

    I’m interested in Darren’s question as it’s one I have also. I posted almost an entire yearbook on Facebook and now I wonder if there could be any issues. I asked a few of the other people form my class and they didn’t seem to have a problem with it.

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