Friday, December 24, 2010
More on Photography Rights
Police at the CN Fairview yard. Photographer unknown.
In August, Railfan & Railroad Managing Editor Steve Barry and a friend were detained by New York City police while waiting to take photographs of a special subway train. They were told that photography is not allowed in the subway system and cited for violating a section of the New York City Rules of Conduct:
Photography, filming or video recording in any facility or conveyance is permitted except that ancillary equipment such as lights, reflectors or tripods may not be used. Members of the press holding valid identification issued by the New York City Police Department are hereby authorized to use necessary ancillary equipment. All photographic activity must be conducted in accordance with the provisions of this Part.
It is not clear to me whether they were using tripods or lights.
Anyway, the charges have been dropped and Steve is suing for $50,000. More details here.
I wasn't there so I don't know what actually happened. I know I would have acted differently than Mr. Barry did, but that's not any kind of slam to him. I am not a very confrontational person.
What I find interesting about the situation is the amount of what I call "railfan entitlement" being expressed in some forums. Apparently a minority of railfans feel they should not be "hassled" when they trespass to take their photos. These few bad apples make the rest of us look bad.
I would remind those people that the railways are there to do a job, not for our entertainment, and to feel grateful for the privilege we have to see them at their work. Yes, it's my right to be able to take photos but it's also the right of the railway to do their work without interference. These rights collide on occasion and the results aren't pretty.
Know your rights, but don't be a jerk.
I have written about photography rights here, here, and here.
Finally, I ran across a great article: Photography is not a crime. I encourage you to read it.