Libertarian magazine Reason created this video about the erosion of photographers’ rights in the United States. One of the cases highlighted is the one involving Antonio Musumeci, who was arrested for filming a government building and came out victorious in a lawsuit with the help of the NYCLU.
If you’re planning to try your hand at solargraphy, it might be a good idea to label the pinhole camera before placing it out in public — when one was spotted at Central Washington University, it was reported as a bomb and caused part of the campus to be shut down for four hours!
[...] a groundskeeper found a cylinder with duct tape on it. Officers closed a street while an Army explosive ordnance disposal team from the Yakima Training Center traveled to Ellensburg to check it out the unidentified object.
The chief says it contained what appeared to be film and could have been a camera made for some project. [#]
Since solargraph cameras are sometimes exposed for up to half a year, there’s probably a solargraph photographer somewhere out there crying right now.
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 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…
Here’s another site you can bookmark if you’re constantly on the hunt for cheap, used camera gear to play with: PropertyRoom.com is an online auction site through which law enforcement agencies can sell goods that were stolen, seized, or found. There’s a section just for for photography that includes cameras, lenses, and accessories. Like the Goodwill auction site we featured last year, the fact that these auctions sites are lesser known means it more likely that you’ll be able to find a crazy deal.
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.
On November 9th, 2009, Software programmer Antonio Musumeci was filming the arrest of a protestor outside a federal courthouse in NYC when he himself was arrested. His main camera was confiscated, but he recorded the entire encounter on a second camera (the resulting video is above). In April 2010, the New York Civil Liberties Union sued the government on Musumeci’s behalf, and yesterday it was was announced that a settlement had been reached, with the government recognizing the public’s right to photograph and film in public spaces outside federal buildings. Read more…