Photography: Legal Issues

It is worthwhile for photographers to acquaint themselves with some legal issues that pertain to photographic activities. The Arts Law Centre of Australia has compiled a number of information sheets that give relevant advice. In particular:

Note that the artslaw.com.au links above are specifically made for the laws in Australia, and may not be as relevant in foreign countries. If you are planning to travel, it might be worth investigating some issues that are relevant to your destinations.

In some places photography may be restricted – take care near military or police establishments as well as major infrastructure and travel/transit facilities. Recently, in Rome I was forced to delete some images I had made of historic buildings – there were paramilitary/police in the square in front of it, and such people and their gear should not be photographed. One day I was photographing squirrels bouncing around the roadside trees in Leicester, only to be accosted by a military person requiring me do stop and remove the images. Apparently the trees were an avenue outside the walls of a military base. Neither I nor the squirrels were aware of the sensitivities of the area over the 4 metre high brick wall. Travel in India and it is hard not to be assailed by children wanting you to take their photo. Take photos of children in some other countries and you may find yourself arousing suspicion and attracting unwanted attention.

Most places restrict use of cameras in places like airports and railway stations. Photography rights may be restricted in museums, galleries, churches and the like. If you are unsure, it does not harm to ask the locals what is allowed.

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