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Are You Breaking the Law?

Are you a photographer? An Instagrammer? A person with a smart phone camera? Then you might be interested in what’s going over at the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) website.

According to an article posted on their site earlier this month, there has been an increase in “catch and release” cases, a method police use to get photographers out of their hair:

As 2011 drew to a close there were stories from all over the United States about police detaining and arresting photographers who were doing nothing illegal, who were taking pictures of public activities in public places, many of them trying in one way or another to cover the various “Occupy” events in American cities and also the day-to-day activities of their local police. But since photography is not illegal, and since it’s still a First Amendment protected form of expression, these photographers had to be charged with other crimes trespassing, or resisting arrest, or disorderly conduct.

Mickey H. Osterreicher, General Counsel of the NPPA has posted several articles on JPGmag.com citing examples of the increasing tension between photographers and “the law.”

He believes that violations of First Amendment rights are occurring because there is a misconception on the part of law enforcement officials that taking pictures of public areas or people can be prohibited due to anti-terrorism concerns.

This is not just happening in Washington D.C. or New York City, or limited to the other locations of the Occupy Movement.

It’s happening everywhere… even in my relatively politically sleepy Midwest city. Just a few months ago, a friend of mine was at a train station in here St. Louis, Missouri and he overheard the Metro attendant stop a group of girls from taking pictures of each other, with the wall of the train station as their backdrop. When my friend and his companion questioned the attendant, the reply the received was “Homeland Security. You can’t take pictures in public transportation facilities.” Yikes!

So if you have any fight-for-liberty energy leftover from SOPA and PIPA, let’s focus some attention on our right to take pics, people!

photo credit: anonymous to protect the innocent (LOL!)

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