Some simple Q&A references for different aspects of access for photographers. If you cannot find what you are looking please try searching the site. Also you can submit a new question which we may add to this FAQ section. THIS MUST BE NO MORE THAN 10 WORDS LONG AND OF GENERAL INTEREST. QUESTIONS THAT DO NOT CONFORM WILL BE IGNORED. For more complex or specific questions and discussions please use the forums instead.
If you know nothing about what, who and where you may legally photograph, start here...
Who owns the equipment is not relevant. What matters is that the photography complies with management policy and permissions. There are privacy considerations as a classroom or learning situation is one where it can be argued that a normal expectation of privacy applies. This means you must have permission of the learners. If the learners are minors, parental or guardian permissions will be necessary, and also supervision by CRB checked staff. Consult the principal for guidance. If you intend the photographs to be used for publicity, marketing or advertising, you should obtain model releases (see elsewhere in this FAQ).
There is no copyright in animals (although Patent law can apply to selective breeding and genetic modification, but you aren't doing that). The pet isn't going to sue ;-)
Whether or not you need the owner's permission depends on where the photo is taken. In their home, where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, you can't take any photos without consent. In public places, or on your own property, I can't see any basis for objection. A pet is the same as a car or other possession, here.
As far as displaying the photo on the web, it's your photo, your right to do what you wish. I hope we are not going to start worrying about internet weirdos grooming pets.
You almost certainly have a normal expectation of privacy in your back garden. So no, your neighbour had no legal right to take such a photograph without your permission.
It depends on the circumstances of the photography, the agreement (if any) made with the subject eg a model release, and the usage to which the photos will be put. Please read the rest of this FAQ to get an idea of the potential issues.
Check the park bye-laws. Most prohibit photography for any commercial purpose. However you are unlikely to get into any trouble, the penalty is usually about £5. If in doubt, check with the Local council.
You certainly do : you own the copyright of your own work. Please see the FAQ at our sister site http://copyrightaction.com/faq for relevant information.
There are several issues here.
Schools are private property. It is up to the school's owner or managing authority whether or not they allow pupils to take photos on their premises. However unless they notify the prohibition to pupils, it's allowed. The school's disciplinary code may have something to say, but there is no legal right to delete the photos unless written into the school's contract with parents. Temporary confiscation of mobile phones is commonplace.
I doubt most schools do prohibit it. Photography is part of the curriculum at many, and corridors are often decorated with pupil photos of events. I frequently took a camera to school in the 1960's, and my first ever publication was of a playground scene, in the school magazine. The headmaster likened it to a Lowry, which was the only nice thing he said to me in 8 years. It would be appalling if such things are no longer possible.
There is also a consideration of privacy, but you would find it difficult to argue that the classroom is a place where you have a reasonable expectation of privacy. In the staffroom or toilets would be different. CCTV is deployed in some schools, which makes the argument even more unlikely.
On the other hand, if the photos are defamatory, humiliating or malicious, or if the photos are uploaded to social networking sites such as Facebook, any defamatory use etc may be actionable. Given the public sensitivity surrounding minors you would probably find it easy to persuade the site owner to take them down rather than face a barrage of negative press. You probably don't want to threaten a libel action against some kid's parents, for much the same reason.
Usually a subject will have no ownership rights over a photograph. As the author of the work you are the copyright owner unless you have made a contract with them that assigns copyright to them. However there are signficant limitations that apply to what you may do with the photograph despite ownership of copyright:
- Any photo that violates a subject's normal expectation of privacy may be an offence under human rights law and/or data protection law.
- If commissioned to take a private portrait or other photo for personal purposes (eg weddings), you will be unable to publish without their permission.
- For certain types of usage you may require a model release.
- There are other legal limits on what you may do with the photo, eg defamation, harassment etc.
In general photography does not require permission in public places. However what sounds like a pleasantly simple rule is complicated considerably by questions of what exactly comprises a public space. There are a number of important restrictions that apply:
- Photography in public places such as roads and public Rights of Way can be problematic if you use a tripod or other equipment that causes obstruction or hazard to the public. Unfortunately the offence of obstruction can be committed merely by standing still, and the threat of arrest for obstruction is often applied by the police in order to curtail photography.
- Obstruction of a policeman in performance of his duty can be invoked if you fail to follow police instructions or co-operate.
- The Terrorism Act 2000 (section 44) allows police to perform a stop and search without giving any reason whatsoever. This is the main legislation being deployed against photographers at present.
- The Official Secrets Act 1911 prohibits photography that threatens the security of the state:
- Military establishments and munitions stores, aircraft and ships
- Civil Aviation property and naval dockyards
- Railways, road, waterway, power stations, waterworks, nuclear power stations defined as prohibited places by the Secretary of State.
- Telephone exchanges and communications centres operated by the Crown
- Anywhere else that is a prohibited place by order of the Secretary of State
- A great deal of the UK is under private ownership and although open to the public does not constitute public spaces. Examples would be shopping malls, carparks, markets, office developments etc. EG Spitalfields Market & Canary Wharf are guarded by private security who appear unable to tell the difference between a camera and a rocket launcher.
- Some public spaces have laws which explicitly restrict or prohibit photography, eg parks, Trafalgar Square, Parliament Square, Typically amateur photography is allowed without a tripod, but photography for commercial purposes is forbidden without a permit.
- Certain public spaces are subject to SOCPA restrictions. The designated areas currently are 1km around the House of Commons, Westminster Bridge, New Scotland Yard, St Thomas' Hospital and the Channel 4 site. Although SOCPA restricts public demonstrations rather than photography, photography is treated with heightened suspicion at these locations, and photographers covering either authorised or unauthorised demonstrations have frequently been treated as demonstrators and threatened with prosecution even when carrying bona-fide press credentials.
In public places where there is no right to privacy, yes you can. The same applies in private places where you have the permission of the landowner or the landowner has stated no restrictions on photography. However photographing someone without asking their permission can cause a lot of trouble if not handled sensitively. If someone does not want to be photographed it is best to respect their wishes unless there is an overriding reason not to. Most people in most circumstances respond well to friendly explanation, especially if you show them the photo. Nevertheless some will object that you have violated their rights in some interesting way, and it's best to have the explanations ready.
- 'You can't take my photo without permission'. Oh yes you can, usually. Point to the CCTV cameras and wave, they never asked either. Of course it is perfectly understandable that individuals may feel singled out and perhaps intimidated, frightened or angry not to be in control, but it's not a legal point.
- 'You have violated my copyright'. This is in no sense true. There is no copyright in the human face or form, and copying would anyway mean cloning them, not creating an image. An image of a person is copyright of the photographer.
- 'You have violated my privacy'. Legally this is unlikely to be true. There is no right to privacy in public places as a rule. There is a right to privacy in private places and in public places where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy (eg public toilets), but how extensive this is depends on circumstances.
In private places that are open to the public, permission of the landowner is usually sufficient to be able to photograph visitors and staff. However a recent court case upheld a right to eat a meal in a restaurant in privacy even though the restaurant owner had consented to the photography, because in the court's view it was a customer's normal expectation not to be photographed there. If in doubt, this is probably the question to ask yourself.
- 'You have violated my human rights'. Police seem to sometimes object to being photographed on the grounds that their 'Human Rights' are being violated. This really means the same thing as 'privacy' and there is none in the street as the presence of CCTV and police photographers shows.
The Human Rights Act 1998 recognises a human right to expect privacy wherever privacy is normal, eg in the home. So photographs taken where privacy may be expected require permission of the subject. EG photographs taken from public places that depict someone within their home in a situation where they expect privacy, for instance through a window using a telephoto lens, will be actionable.
- 'You are harassing me'. Photography can indeed constitute harassment, but for an act to constitute harassment requires deliberate acts of harassment on at least 2 separate occasions. The complainant may then seek a restraining order from the court.
Harassment is potentially an issue for paparazzi in their pursuit of celebrities, but equally a restraining order has been used to suppress inconvenient photography by npower at Radley lakes.
- 'You need a model release'. Model releases are not necessary for anything except photographs to be used for commercial purposes. For editorial or artistic purposes they have no relevance unless you intend defaming the subject and need them to make a contractual agreement not to sue you for libel. If you intend selling the image for marketing or advertising use that implies endorsement by the subject, then yes, you need a model release (or rather, the advertiser does).
- 'You have violated data protection law'. Superficially this seems correct as the Data Protection Act does indeed prohibit the recording of data that identifies an individual. A photograph certainly qualifies and the DPA certainly applies to CCTV monitoring, ID photos etc. However the DPA Part 1 Section 3 specifically exempts as a 'special purpose' photographs or other data recorded for journalism, or for artistic or literary purposes.
They can ask but you are not obliged to answer them. However security is their job and whether or not their questions seem daft you would be wise to explain in polite, non-confrontational terms. If you appear hostile or evasive you are failing the 'attitude check' and indicating that you merit further investigation. Offering proof identity may help allay their suspicions.
PCSO's have no such powers, and police do not except in specific circumstances. But you may save yourself from being arrested if you comply.
- Police do not have to have any reason to make a stop and search under the Terrorism Act , so you are faced with the interesting task of proving a negative, that you are not a terrorist. Showing them your photos may make it clear that you are innocent. However stop and search is sometimes being used as a means to discourage all photography, in which case the preciise nature of your photos is irrelevant.
- If police want to see a photograph because they believe it may assist investigation into a criminal matter, they have a right to collect evidence. If you do not comply you may be arrested for obstructing a police officer, withholding evidence or even conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, depending on circumstances. As noted, professional newsgatherers have some protection from this in PACE.
In certain circumstances, yes, but note that all these powers are restricted to police, not PCSO's.
- After arrest for any offence all your personal belongings will be confiscated
- After arrest, when they believe it may be stolen property
- After arrest, when they believe you are using it as an offensive weapon
- Stop and search under the Terrorism Act 2000 entitles police to search any equipment that may be used for terrorism. They also have the power to seize the camera for examination and to arrest you.
- Police may wish to see photos because hey believe it contains evidence of the commission of a crime. This is particularly difficult because if you object you may be arrested for obstruction of a policeman in performance of his duty.
The police have a right to view and keep copies of your photos for evidential purposes unless you identify yourself as a professional newsgatherer, in which case your equipment, media and data is 'special procedure material' under PACE (Police and Criminal Evidence Act) and may only be accessed on the order of a court.
No they have no legal authority to do this. Only a court may order deletion of images.
CRB checking is designed for employers to vet prospective employees or contractors who may at some point have access to children in education and child care contexts. EG teachers, nursery workers, nannies, carers, childminders, doctors, youth workers, and service contractors working in premises where children are being cared for.
Very few photographers will need CRB checks, although specialist schools photographers contracted to LEA's (local education authorities) are usually checked as a precaution by Councils. Unsupervised access to minors should never arise if staff are doing their jobs correctly.
To satisfy legal requirements and for their own protection from allegations of misconduct, photographers should be supervised at all times by CRB-checked staff when working with minors in educational and childcare settings. The legal requirement for CRB checking then does not arise.
Because CRB checking is a duty on employers there is no mechanism whereby self-employed indiividuals can obtain CRB checks for themselves. If it is really necessary your employer or client will have to carry out the check. It typically costs around £60 and takes 2-6 weeks. There is no certificate or record of satisfactory vetting that is issued to the subject. Furthermore CRB checks are not necessarily portable between employers or local authorities (acceptance is discretionary) and anyway expire after 2 years.
'Police checks' are often confused with CRB checks. Anyone can get a 'police check' done on themselves at a local police station, which costs a lot less and is faster but is not the same thing at all. A police check is a disclosure of criminal record, where CRB checking also discloses expunged offences and records of allegations and investigations that have not resulted in charges or conviction.
In general minors have no greater or lesser rights than adults, and in general editorial photos taken in public places will require no consent. The key concept here is 'reasonable expectation of privacy'. In public places there is seldom any such reasonable expectation. In private places there may be. Eg if the photographs were taken at a private party in someone's home or back garden, permission would be necessary, but if the event was in a park or other venue open to the public, it would not be required. A school is a private place in this context, and permission is required.
Note that where permission is required, either the parent, guardian or carer with a delegated authority (eg teacher) must provide consent for under 18's.
The reason for the photos being taken may play a part too: if privately commissioned by, say, a parent, then like portraits and wedding photos they would be private to the client and permission would be required.
There are some specific other factors to be careful of here too. You would be very unwise to use such photos for any advertising or promotional use that implies endorsement or approval, without obtaining model releases. Also be extremely careful about clothing and disposition : any hint of depiction of sexuality in photos of minors is a criminal offence. And finally be careful about captioning with names or identifying location : there are the 'rights of the child' under the Children Act, where children who are wards of court or on the At Risk register have enhanced rights of privacy. You will find more about this complicated subject at the 'can I take photographs of children?' section of this FAQ.
Photography in public places
The shop owner is likely to be within their legal rights to do this. As the property owner, the shop owner has a right to photograph anyone on their premises unless they are in a situation where they have a normal expectation of privacy (eg in a lavatory or changing room).
To comply with Data Protection law camera surveillance does requires a notice informing customers, so that is one thing to check (see the ICO code of practice for more information).
Minors generally have no special rights (but see elswhere in the FAQ for exceptions).
The most questionable issue is whether the owner has it on display for vindictive reasons or simply for staff guidance. If she has captioned it as "banned", or is telling customers the lad has committed some offence when he has not, then defamation may be occurring. However, proving this is likely to be difficult and taking any legal action likely to be far too costly to contemplate.
Law is not often much help in minor antagonistic situations like this. The best approach would be to try and resolve the problem by negotiation. If your son offended her, point out that he and you are embarassed by the photo, try and get him to say apologise in person for whatever he did (a good lesson in responsibility), then ask her to be generous. If after all that the owner doesn't respond favourably, then you have established they are being vindictive and it may be worth getting a solicitor to write to them.
Yes. There should be no problem at all with this:
- provided logos and registered trademarks are incidental inclusions, not arguably an infringing "copy". Some companies, eg Transport for London, are a litigious pain in the a*se over photos that prominently display their logo. But as far as I know they've never sued anyone, just written nasty letters.
- provided the public roads weren't actually private industrial estates displaying 'no photography' signs. Even if they were, it's a trespass issue that nobody is likely to bother about since no provable loss exists that could be claimed as damages.
The main thing you want to guard against is sale for advertising use that implies endorsement of an advertiser's product by the company depicted in the photo. But that's the buyer's problem, not yours, so long as you don't pretend there is a property release.
Possibly, but expect to spend a lot of time in the company of police officers who take a different view.
Photos taken in public places will normally be legally acquired, but what Facebook find acceptable will depend on Facebook's terms and conditions.
Police officers have the power to stop and search anyone under the Terrorism Act 2000 to discover whether he has in his possession anything which may constitute evidence that he is a terrorist. They do not need a specific reason, your presence in a specific area is sufficient excuse. Cameras may be seized and retained until it is determined whether photos have been made for terrorist purposes.
Refusal or non-cooperation will result in arrest and punishment by fine of up to £1000 and/or 6months imprisonment.
You are not obliged to give your name and address or explain what you are doing, but in practice you may be arrested on some other pretext if you do not.
The authority for these stop and searches arises under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act, which is why they've become colloquially known as S44 searches. They are highly contentious as they appear to be widely misused. You should ask police to explain whether they are looking for terrorists or trying to deter or delay you. Also make sure they issue you with a Search record. Consider making an official complaint if you feel the search was carried out wrongly or for the wrong reasons. Also fill out Liberty's search monitoring form
A very commonplace experience is to have security guards run out of a building you are photographing and insist that you cannot because the management do not allow it, because the building is copyright, because it is private property, because you need permission, that they will have you arrested, or you will be sued. They have no authority nor legal basis for any of this so long as you are photographing from the public road or path. They have no power to demand you delete pictures, and no power to demand your name and address.
In most cases, if explanation doesn't do the trick, calling the police is a good idea.
Press have no special privileges of access in UK, their entitlement to photograph is identical to every other citizen. The National Press Card serves only as a means of identification as a member of the press. Whether it is accepted as such by police is variable.
In some circumstances press cards do achieve greater access, but this is dependent on the operational priorities (or whim) of the police. Press may be admitted to an area that has been closed to the public because of an incident or for security reasons. At other times press will receive extra attention to prevent them photographing even when surrounded by a sea of amateurs clicking away with digicams and mobile phone cameras.
Photographing children in public places is, for most children, exactly the same as photographing adults under the same circumstances. That is, there is no right to privacy and hence it is legal.
The exception is children (and vulnerable adults) who are wards of court or subject to a child protection order, or on the 'at risk' register. The Children Act 1989 creates special rights of privacy ('the rights of the child') which make it an offence to publish any photo that might place them at risk from, say, an estranged violent parent by divulging their location. A photograph of a child in a public place wearing school uniform, or accompanied by others whose whereabouts are known to the would-be assailant, might conceivably do this.
The Children Act is also the cause of problems at sports clubs and similar venues, as the supervising adult has a legal duty to safeguard these enhanced rights to privacy. And since part of that right is confidentiality about the child's status, usually they will not know themselves which children in their charge the Act applies to. Their safest course of action then becomes one of challenging any photographer as an imminent threat.
But by far the biggest issue surrounding photographs of minors is public fear of paedophiles. There seems to be a widespread assumption that the only possible explanation for any adult photographing children who are not their own is that they are a pervert with a camera. Proceed with extreme care and sensitivity, and if at all possible ask permission.
The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 creates 'designated areas' where demonstrations or protests are suspended unless prior permission from the Secretary of State has been obtained.
This should have no bearing on photography but in practice it does not work out like that. Anyone photographing unauthorised protest within the designated area of 1km from Parliament, Westminster Bridge, New Scotland Yard is liable to be regarded as a protester rather than a photographer and detained or arrested, and that includes professionals reporting on events.
Photography on private property
There are two aspects to this. First, whether your employer has a right to film you without your consent (although check your contract of employment, you may find you have consented to any monitoring or recording as a condition). The answer is basically "yes". As they are the property owner they can film anyone they wish on their premises, except in circumstances where there is a reasonable right to expect privacy. This would preclude them filming you in a toilet or restroom, perhaps even a staff canteen, but not otherwise. Almost every mall and shop uses CCTV without asking permission, and this is basically the same (CCTV has a legal requirement for a notice informing people of the monitoring, but this does not apply to ad hoc photography).
The second part is whether the employer can use the film as evidence. I can't think of any reason why not.
I assume you're asking about public Rights of Way that cross private land. In general yes, you can film/photograph the surrounding private area, but there are a few things to be aware of. First that standing still or erecting a tripod can be considered obstruction, for which you can be arrested by police, so try to avoid that. Second that National Trust, has sought to prevent commercial photography of any of their land, flora and fauna, or properties, from public Rights of Way (see Copyright Action articles on National Trust for details). Third that considerations of privacy may apply. You cannot, for instance, photograph through a window into a house interior to obtain a photo of someone.
Without knowing the specifics of the advertising or why you would want to do this, or why the houseowner might obect, it is impossible to say. But I assume you have taken the obvious step of asking the houseowner already and been refused? In which case offer them a fee or discount as an inducement. If that cuts no ice, "don't" would seem wise. If the owner decides to pursue the issue you will end up enmired in litigation, with costs and stress out of all proportion to any benefit. Nobody can tell you with certainty how this will pan out. Bear in mind that 50% of lawyers are wrong in court, every day.
This is basically two questions : can I film on private property? and can I film police?
All the reservations about photographing on private property apply, ie you may do so unless or until the landowner forbids it. Thereafter you commit a civil trespass. You also must be mindful of privacy issues and not photograph anyone where they might have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Please see other parts of this FAQ for more details. Police may well point out that you have no permission from the landowner to film. Unless you do, that's a warning shot. Whilst it isn't their job to uphold the landowner's civil rights, if you persist they'll likely view you as hostile and difficult - and find something else they can charge you with.
In general you have the same legal rights to photograph police as photographing any other citizen. However it often doesn't work out like that because the police can always find a charge that can be applied and may result in the threat of arrest or arrest if you persist. Typically this might be obstruction of a police constable in performance of his duty, but there are other possibilities. This is a risk on the public street for professional photographers carrying press cards. On private property, privacy and/or security ssues may magnify the risk.
From this, for instance snapping away inside a police station or at a crime scene would be highly inadvisable without permission. Having said that, police are routinely filmed by CCTV within shops, whenever they arrest a detained shoplifter, so it's very much a matter of context. Unless you have some overriding public interest reason or just like being locked in small windowless rooms for hours on end, we suggest you ask first.
Yes, but only if it is not prohibited by the landowner. The landowner is within their rights to prohibit photography on their property or to require payment for permission.
If there are 'no photography' signs or terms of admission that forbid photography, you commit a trespass by taking photos, and may be told to leave. If you do not leave immediately reasonable force may be used to eject you. You may also be injuncted or sued for damages in a civil court. However the landowner or staff do not have any legal power to demand handover of film or memory cards, nor to require the deletion of images.
You must ask the landowner, or their agent or representative. On private land open to the public permission will allow you to photograph people without their individual consent, but note that privacy considerations will still apply. You should not photograph anyone in circumstances where they might normally expect privacy without obtaining their consent.
If you take photos on private land without permission, whether photography is prohibited or not the photographs are your copyright.
There are occasions where if the landowner can demonstrate to the court that your copyright represents a financial loss, eg because he himself sells photos of his property, then the court may intervene and award economic copyright to him.
Not unless you are intending to sell the picture for advertising or marketing use. A model release is a binding contract that agrees to relinquish specific future claims of equity in return for a 'valuable consideration'. This is usually payment, but can be prints or some other agreeable exchange.