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Everyplace Photography?

Andrew Kantor, USA Today: New digital camera? Know how, where you can use it

With all these cameras snapping around us, I started to wonder about the laws regarding using them. Where can you shoot? What can you shoot?

Mr. Kantor’s a writer, not a lawyer, though his research seems to be pretty much in agreement with other information I’ve seen. One potential trouble point I see concerns private property that’s normally accessed as though it’s public – your local shopping mall for example.

You can take photos any place that’s open to the public, whether or not it’s private property. A mall, for example, is open to the public. So are most office buildings (at least the lobbies). You don’t need permission; if you have permission to enter, you have permission to shoot.

Since it’s technically private property, the popular belief – especially among mall employees, security and police – is that the owners can place restrictions on photography as well as other activities. I’ve experienced it firsthand, trying to take pictures in a mall several years ago and getting run out by “mall cops.”

Without having a copy of the actual law in hand most casual photographers probably won’t find it worth fighting over, though professional journalists working on a story should be armed with enough facts to be able to get their job done.

The fact that taking a photo and publishing it are separate things might go against some folks’ common sense.

Right. Most of the time when people say “you can’t take my picture,” they’re wrong – from a legal point of view. It’s up to the photographer to decide if the photo is worth the argument. Discretion, Valor and all that jazz.

[later] see also this thread on

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