Bad news for photographers in Southern California: the Los Angeles Police Department issued a notice regarding its official terrorism handling policy earlier this week, and the document still identifies photographers as potential terrorists. The intradepartmental correspondence, sent out by the Chief of Police, warns officers about the following:
Photography. Taking pictures or videos of facilities/buildings, infrastructures or protected sites in a manner that would arouse suspicion in a reasonable person. Examples include taking pictures or videos of ingress/egress, delivery locations, personnel performing security functions (e.g., patrol, badge/vehicle checking), security-related equipment (e.g., perimeter fencing, security cameras), etc.;
Observation/Surveillance. Demonstrating unusual interest in facilities/buildings, infrastructures or protected sites beyond mere casual or professional (e.g., engineers) interest, such that a reasonable person would consider the activity suspicious. Examples include observations through binoculars, taking notes, attempting to measure distances, etc. …
The New York Times has published a great interview with Michael H. Osterreicher, the general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association and the editor of the organization’s advocacy blog. In it, NYT Lens Blog co-editor James Estrin asks Osterreicher about photographers’ rights and the trend of people being stopped while shooting public locations. Read more…
One of the common reasons given for being wary of photographers is that terrorists commonly use cameras as part of their information gathering tactics prior to devastating attacks.
The disconcerting video above is a terrorist prevention video that was funded by the Department of Homeland security and uploaded to Houston’s city website back in January 2011. Starting at 1:42, it attempts to convince people that photographers may be potential terrorists, and that the police should be called if one appears to “hang around for no apparent reason.” Read more…
It’s like “déjà vu all over again”: New York Times freelance photographer Robert Stolarik was arrested this past Saturday while on assignment in the Bronx. As he was taking photographs of a developing street fight, Stolarik was confronted by officers, ordered to stop, and then allegedly assaulted. Read more…
One of the reasons photographers raise a fuss when their rights are infringed upon is to create awareness in the general public and among law enforcement. A recent lawsuit between a photojournalist and the Washington DC police department has done just that. The Washington Post reports:
District police cannot interfere with citizens as they photograph or videotape officers performing their jobs in public, according to a new directive issued by Chief Cathy L. Lanier as part of settlement in a civil lawsuit.
The six-page general order, similar to one published by police in Baltimore in November, warns officers that “a bystander has the right under the First Amendment to observe and record members in the public discharge of their duties.”
[…] “It tells police to leave people alone,” Spitzer said. “It makes it clear that if a person is in a place that interferes with police operations, the officer can ask or tell them to move to another location, but they can’t tell them to stop taking pictures.”
The University of California has agreed to dish out a $162,500 settlement to David Morse, a 43-year-old photographer who was arrested back in 2009 while covering a student protest. The SF Chronicle writes,
[The suit] an officer told Morse, “We want your camera. We believe your camera contains evidence of a crime.”
The officers ignored his press pass and arrested him and seven others on suspicion of rioting, threatening an education official, attempted burglary, attempted arson of an occupied building, vandalism, and assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer, the suit said.
Morse spent the night in jail. Prosecutors declined to file charges.
But police obtained a search warrant and used several of his photos in brochures and online in hopes that the public could identify individuals.
As part of the settlement, the police department has also agreed to modify its procedures regarding seeking materials from journalists and will be conducting training sessions teaching its officers about media rights.
Amateur Photographer sparked an outcry among photographers this past Tuesday after it pointed out a section in the London Olympics’ ticketholder policies that states:
Images, video and sound recordings of the Games taken by a Ticket Holder cannot be used for any purpose other than for private and domestic purposes and a Ticket Holder may not license, broadcast or publish video and/or sound recordings, including on social networking websites and the internet more generally, and may not exploit images, video and/or sound recordings for commercial purposes under any circumstances, whether on the internet or otherwise, or make them available to third parties for commercial purposes.
Shortly after we reported on the story yesterday, a spokesman for the Olympics organizing committee (Locog) issued a response stating that they “are not looking to stop private individuals from posting photographs on social networks,” and that the intent is to prevent photos being used for commercial purposes. He did, however, acknowledge that the wording is unclear, saying that it will likely be clarified when tickets are mailed.
Photographers have already lodged complaints against the security firm that tried to prevent them from taking photos of the Olympic sites from public land, but it seems that even stricter rules will be imposed on ticket holders once the games begin. According to a freelance photographer named Peter Ruck, the Olympic organizing committee Locog intends to prevent attendees from uploading images and videos captured at the games to social networks. Read more…
In the past year — and especially with the growth of the “occupy” movement — police interfering with photographers or pedestrians trying to snap a photo of them has been in the news quite a lot. Just yesterday we reported on the Olympics’ security guards who landed in hot water after harassing photogs shooting from public land. In the past, this was no problem, as police officers had little to fear in way of personal liability when they interfered; however, a new Connecticut bill — the first of its kind — may soon change that. Read more…