Last week a United Airlines flight out of Denver International Airport was returned to the gate after being ready for takeoff when a passenger noticed “suspicious behavior” and notified a flight attendant. The plane was evacuated and swept for suspicious devices, the suspicious passengers were taken and questioned, and the flight was delayed by 2.5 hours. Now it’s believed that the passengers were simply taking pictures during taxiing, though the fact that two of the picture takers were of Middle Eastern descent likely had something to do with the “suspiciousness”.
A couple weeks ago we reported that a lawmaker in Florida was trying to make photographing farms a felony. Turns out the Florida Senate Committee on Agriculture actually approved the bill this week, but only after passing a couple amendments that make the bill a little more reasonable. The new version of the bill only concerns photographs taken by people who trespass onto the private farmland, and instead of a felony the crime will now be a misdemeanor. Whew.
A bill recently introduced by Florida state senator Jim Norman would, if passed, making taking pictures of farms a felony unless permission is granted by the owner.
A person who photographs, video records or otherwise produces images or pictorial records, digital or otherwise, at or of a farm or other property where legitimate agriculture operations are being conducted without the written consent of the owner, or an authorized representative of the owner, commits a felony of the first degree. [#]
Apparently the bill is meant to deter animal rights activists from secretly posing as farmworkers to make hidden camera videos of animals being abused. Needless to say, a lot of photographers aren’t very pleased.
Television network TBD recently sent photographer Jay Westcott to cover a Lady Gaga concert in Washington D.C. Upon arriving at the Verizon Center, Westcott was given a release form, on which the fourth paragraph read,
Photographer hereby acknowledges and agrees that all right, title and interest (including copyright) in and to the Photograph(s) shall be owned by Lady Gaga and Photographer hereby transfers and assigns any such rights to Lady Gaga.
After making a call to his editor, Westcott was told to not sign the release and to not shoot the concert. Read more…
Being stopped by police for being suspicious — and having cameras — isn’t an issue unique to our time. In 1955, photographer Robert Frank was driving through Arkansas when he was stopped by a police officer who looked into his car and noticed, among other things, “a number of cameras”. The officer had something to take care of in a nearby city, so he conveniently had Frank held in a city jail until he could return and question him. Read more…
Cop Block created an interactive map showing the “War on Cameras” in which each marker shows an incident where someone was “harassed, detained, threatened, attacked, arrested, or charged with a crime” by government officials for using a camera. It only has about 60 markers on it at the moment — a more solution would be to have a crowdsourced map where anyone can contribute and add events. Still, this is pretty neat for those interested in photographers’ rights (a pretty big issue last year).
A Tucson photographer recently found out the hard way that the public doesn’t always side with photographers in copyright infringement cases, even if their claims are valid. About a month after the tragic 2011 Tucson shooting, portrait photographer Jon Wolf threatened so sue nearly three dozen media outlets after they showed a portrait he made of 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green — the youngest victim — and demanded $125,000 from one newspaper for publishing the image. Read more…
A man in Atlanta was just awarded $40,000 in damages after having his cell phone confiscated and photos deleted while filming police activity from a public location. The man was filming for Copwatch, an organization that aims to crack down on law enforcement wrongdoing by filming their activities, and was told by the police that he had no right to record them. An interesting quote from the CNN segment above is the lesson this case should send to other police departments,
The lesson is that police departments need to know that citizens can film their activity if it is taking place in a public place.
Not a bad result for having some cell phone photos deleted, huh?
We reported in October of last year that a lawsuit by the New York Civil Liberties Union against the US Government ended with a settlement upholding the right to photograph and film in public spaces outside government buildings. The US Department of Homeland Security also agreed to notify its officers and employees in writing of the “public’s general right to photograph the exterior of federal courthouses from publicly accessible spaces”
Now, a redacted version of the directive sent out last year has been made public. Read more…
It’s interesting (though some might say infuriating) to see how photographers are depicted in some police training videos. Lesson learned? Don’t carry camera gear and sleeping bags together in the back seat of your car.
In case the video doesn’t start at the right place automatically, photography-related stuff starts around 4:30.