Artist Kyle McDonald caused quite a hoopla last year after using a custom-written program to photograph unsuspecting people using Apple Store computers. Apple quickly issued a takedown request and the Secret Service was sent to confiscate McDonald’s gear. Yesterday Wired published an interesting article in which McDonald gives his long and detailed account of the whole fiasco:
I didn’t want to break the law. I was prepared to make people a little uncomfortable, but I didn’t want to do anything illegal. That ruled out using private computers. I tried to think of a busy public space full of computers, and the Apple Store seemed so obvious. I read “The Photographer’s Right” to make sure it was ok to take the photos.
[It] sounded simple. There was definitely no expectation of privacy: the 14th Street Apple Store has glass walls. And I saw people taking pictures inside all the time, so I just had to double check with an employee. It seemed clear that I was legally within my rights, but I wanted to be sensitive to the people being photographed. I decided in advance that I would make sure it was easy to contact me if someone saw their photo and wanted it removed. I would try to keep Apple out of the discussion by always referring to it as a “computer store”, but Apple’s strong aesthetic makes it hard to hide.