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Readers Respond: Reader Stories About Photographer's Rights

Responses: 6


Almost everyone seems to have a story of being told "you can't do that" when using a camera in public areas. Very few even have stories of accommodating officials who go out of their way to help photographers. We'd love to hear both sides of the issue. Tell us your stories of incidents regarding photographer rights.

caught a thief

I caught a neighbor stealing a lawnmower from their shed. I was innocently taking pictures of some flowers and such. I must add that she is not as smart as she thinks. She came over to tell me that she is a law student and she could have my memory card for taking her picture without permission. I tried to lie to her and say that I was not taking her picture. She was standing in my yard and technically trespassing so I told her that I would be happy to call the cops for her if she wants it that badly. she immedicately backed off. The other neighbor did get the pictures of her taking the mower and other tools out. She has since been evicted. So much for being a law student. By the way the chic had the cops called several times per month for yelling at her husband and driving too fast around the kids in the neighborhood. Her husband even pulled a knife on my kids. so much for thinking she knew the law.
—Guest Mary

Angry homeowner

I video and photograph for municipalities prior to roadwork and utilities restoration. On one job, while doing a video a homeowner ran out of his house with a large piece of cardboard and held it in front of my camera. He was yelling and very angry. He said "This is still America, you can't video me" Even after explaining that the video was for restoration purposes he wouldn't relent. So I advised him to video his own property in case the restoration wasn't exactly as the property looked before. In 20 years of work I have had this occur about 4 times. I suppose there are some very paranoid people out there. Just glad I'm not his neighbor.

City Hall censorship

I covered a public event at Shelton Civic Center in WA State. A one eyed man named Gary approached me afterward with intimidating invective and angry threats objecting to my covering not only the current event but a previous one in the same venue consisting of a public hearing by ORCAA, an administrative permit State agency. Should I seek a restraining order against this nincompoop? I don't feel safe. *Guide Note* I would ask a lawyer/police officer what can be done if you feel to be in physical danger.
—Guest pinbalwyz

who owns my photos?

Unless an agreement was written up with the words "for hire" in them, you have never given up the copyright to your images and therefore should be paid for their usage. This is a copyright infringement on your images. The employer stating that he owns the rights to your images simply because you worked for him is false unless there is a contract giving him ownership. Good luck. *Guide Note* Unfortunately, even without the term "work for hire," unless copyright is specifically stated to belong to the photographer - some judges rule that if you take the photos while working for a company and/or with company equipment then the photos belong to the company.

Who owns my photos?

Hi. Over the past few months I was employed by a small business. There was never any formal contract in writing drawn up between us. Initially I was hired to help with outdoor type labour. When the business owner discovered I was a fairly good photographer, he asked that I shoot some photos at a couple of events, even though there was no formal agreement that I was going to be paid as a photographer. I no longer work there, but this business is now using my photos on its website and when I protested I was told that I have no rights, as when I was working there my photography was part of the job I was paid to do. Have I been screwed here?

Reader Stories About Photographer's Righ

I'm a photography student. Everyday I pass by the local State port. There is a mound of sparkling black as night powder in front of a brilliant white dome. I saw an opportunity to see just how wide a latitude I have with digital exposure. After a few shots, a person came out from a neighboring commercial establishment and told me I should not be taking pictures of the port and that they were duty-bound under Homeland Security to report me to the Port Authority. I apologized, told them my story, and immediately started to pack up. I do not know if they reported me did...they did drive towards the guard house. They have my name, which I freely volunteered and perhaps my license plates. What I am worried about is that I am now on some secret Homeland Security List as suspect.. not able to find out for sure, not able to redress the conditions under which I was listed. This is not the America I love.
—Guest David

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