Legal Ramifications Of Camera Phones

from the so-many-things-to-deal-with dept

People left and right have been over reacting to camera phones, but it does raise some legal issues – specifically about the rights of those who are being photographed. Where I’m confused, though, is how come existing law doesn’t already cover this? If you’re in a public place and have no expectation of privacy, I’m not sure how there’s an issue. If you’re in a private place, it’s a different story – but is still covered by existing law. The article also mentions a law saying that if you’re in a federal areas (government buildings, national parks) and someone takes a photo of you in “sensitive or compromising states”, they can’t disseminate those photos. I’m curious why that is. If you’re on such federal property, why are you going to be in “sensitive or compromising states?” Anyway, as someone else in the article points out, this is mostly just people over reacting to new technology that they don’t understand. After it percolates a bit, people will reach social norms and expectations. There were digital cameras before this, and once people realize that most phones have cameras as well, they’ll be more conscious about what’s happening around them.

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Comments on “Legal Ramifications Of Camera Phones”

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Ed Halley says:

No Subject Given

I think it’s useful to discuss the new issues– even if they’re a rehash of existing issues. Why? Because most people had no clue about the existing issues.

If you’re a photographer (or even if you’re not), I recommend checking out – a printable flier to keep in your camera bag. There is a lot of misconception about photography. “You can’t photograph that soccer game, my kid is playing in it.”

slim says:

There's that phrase again ...

“Where I’m confused, though, is how come existing law doesn’t already cover this? If you’re in a public place and have no expectation of privacy, I’m not sure how there’s an issue.”

Anytime I see the phrase “where I’m confused” when reading Techdirt … it’s obvious to me that there has been no real thinking done.

You’re confused because you think existing law “doesn’t already cover this,” when, in fact, it does! When a person is in a publicplace, they have no legal expectation of privacy, and your photograph can be taken by anyone, so long as that person doesn’t then use your photograph in a commercial way, or attempt to defame you with it (or violate some OTHER law with it).

Here’s an example: Say you are 300 pounds, and you’re walking up the street. ABCNews cannot take video of your fat butt walking up the street mowing down a banana split and have voice over describing how obese Americans have become. That would be defamatory … and that’s why whenever you see news stories about obeseity, you see a lot of fat butts … but no faces.

There are MANY examples of people having their photograph taken while in public places. Every time you make an ATM withdrawl your photo is taken; or drive through a “Speed Pass” fast lane toll booth; or stroll down some public beaches, or go through some airport security.

Camera phones add a new dimension, and increase the odds that you will be “snapped,” but the law is pretty clear: When you’re in a public place, you don’t have the right not to have your photo taken.

Unconfused now?

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