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Is wrong to take candid cell phone pictures of stuff/people?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / March 20, 2007 6:25 AM PDT

Do you think it is wrong to take candid cell phone pictures of stuff/people on public streets?

-- No. (What if it was your picture?)

-- Yes. (Why?)

-- No, but it is rude. (Please explain.)

-- It depends. (On what?)

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by TreknologyNet / March 20, 2007 12:27 PM PDT

I have no objection to anyone taking my photo in the street. All and sundry please come and take my photo, just let me know where you intend to publish it so I can sue you for using my image without my permission. That should take care of my retirement nicely, thank you.

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Pics of people without their knowledge is a serious invasion
by jesskalinowsky / March 20, 2007 1:41 PM PDT
In reply to: Candid?

of their privacy. Frankly I think camera phones are a waste, EXCEPT in cases of emergency, i.e. accident, or where something really needs to be documented, or like someone said, a unique child activity caught "in the moment". Generally speaking, camera phones should not be used without great discretion.
I see people taking pics all the time of some hottie and I can just hear the story now, 'this was my date last night and we did......' blah blah blah! Lies lies lies. If I see someone taking a pic of me, their phone accidently crashes to the ground ..... ooops I'm so sorry.....
"paparazzi" we do not need more of them!

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pics of people in public places
by DUKNROSE / March 21, 2007 10:14 AM PDT

In public, what expectation of privacy does one have? I say, not much. If you object having your picture taken, do you also object to people looking at you?

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pension plan
by smjcee / March 20, 2007 2:42 PM PDT
In reply to: Candid?

"I have no objection to anyone taking my photo in the street. All and sundry please come and take my photo, just let me know where you intend to publish it so I can sue you for using my image without my permission. That should take care of my retirement nicely, thank you."

and facing assault, damage, bodily harm and several other charges would be good for your retirement fund? Well I don't suppose prisoners need much these days... except to pay the legal fees

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Bad Idea
by death2spam / March 20, 2007 10:09 PM PDT
In reply to: Candid?

I am a professional photograpgher with over 25 years experience. In many places and countries (including your own!) it is illegal to capture an image of persons in public (and private) without written consent, quite often specifically, in the form of a legaly recognized model release form. To randomly snap pics of "hottties" may not only result in costly legal action, but an nasty physical reaction by the subject ot the subjects' escort/date/spouse. Paparazzi live a risky life to get the "big pay off", and are well aware of the legal and physical risks...are you?

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Illegal? I don't think so!
by rae2_2 / March 21, 2007 2:54 AM PDT
In reply to: Bad Idea

It might be illegal to PUBLISH, especially for profit, any image captured, but even then, what about a shot of a busy street with hundreds of people, etc.? Why couldn't I use that shot for a label or a logo?

Since our "authorities" see no problem in sticking cameras in every nook and cranny of our country to routinely "capture an image... without written (or any) consent" it seems ridiculous that for a private citizen to do so be considered illegal.

But then, our "authorities" legally and routinely MURDER people in gas chambers, electric chairs, injections and neck stretchers, but for some reason, we private citizens are prohibited from doing likewise. Go figure.

If you're on a PUBLIC STREET, you and your 'image' are fair game as far as I'm concerned. So sue me... fat lot of good that will do you... can't get blood from a stone!

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Illegal? Not necessarily.
by inrpce / March 21, 2007 3:38 AM PDT

If it's a legitimate news photo and you sell it for news purposes to the news media, there is absolutely no legal recourse on the part of the subject(s) of the photo. If it is for your personal album and not for profit, the same is true.

Candid photography on the street is a long tradition in photography. The work of Henri Cartier-Bresson was almost all candid. He, of course would be required to get model releases and those are not hard to get people to sign if you promise to send them a print.

I, too, have worked as a professional photographer. I had two kind of releases, a long one for professional models and a short form a lawyer provided me with for street photography.

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Is it wrong to take pictures of people in public places?
by NeilFiertel / March 24, 2007 3:22 PM PDT

Simply put, it is NOT ILLEGAL to photograph people if the person is on the street or in a clearly defined PUBLIC space. This is not to say that that person cannot sue you. In America, I understand, people sue for pretty much anything a lawyer can get a percentage on but strictly speaking it is not illegal. You might find, however, that you still might have to talk a civil court jury into accepting that. Papparazzi have made so -called candid photography a negative activity and thus, one sees less and less of such a style of photography as an art and more as a nasty aggressive act. Cartier-Bresson or Diane Arbus would not get very far in the present state of litigation regarding invasion of privacy whilst at the same time, governments and security agencies, publc and private, are busy documenting your every move. Artists never count, so what is new? Get a model release just to save yourself the hassle...or just skip the sport.

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images of us in public places
by DUKNROSE / March 23, 2007 11:43 AM PDT
In reply to: Bad Idea

Senior pro photogragper, whatever in the world that is, it is not illegal to take a picture of anyone in public anywhere in the world.
The exception being the nations ruled by Muslims. They'll kill you if you do. Hell, they'll kill you if don't. Can't figure those people out.
If you make money from an image of an individual, it would be best, and save yourself from a lawsuit, to get a model's release.

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by edtrimm / March 21, 2007 12:11 AM PDT
In reply to: Candid?

It has been best stated by the experts here, but I reiterate: Anyone taking a picture of anybody for use in any way beyond looking at it themselves is required to get a release signed by the subject of the photo/movie, etc. That's the law. Yeah, we break the law every day because there's too many, but breaking this one is more likely to poke a giant hole in your wallet than some of the others.

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HAHA ! Nice one ! Unless I'm a guy and I don't wear skirt!
by sunsource / March 21, 2007 1:15 AM PDT
In reply to: Candid?

I'm a guy and as a guy I never wear skirt so you could never see my underwear. As long as people take picture of me, I'll take it as a compliment. For the rest, I just hope people keep respecting other and their intimity.

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It depends
by dobird / March 20, 2007 12:35 PM PDT

If you get permission from the person but, just to take it, no! Why would ya want to take a picture of a complete stranger anyway. Also, I don't think it's wrong to take pictures of stuff. I would if I thought it was something cool!

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RE: It depends
by cgramer / March 20, 2007 12:42 PM PDT
In reply to: It depends

I disagree with you on this, dobird... Some of the best photos I've ever seen have been candid photos of people on the street, on the bus, in the subway, etc. One particular site I've always liked (though it hasn't been updated in ages) is - a photoblog done by a Canadian guy working in Japan. He's since moved back to Canada and stopped updating his blog in early 2005, so check out his archives. Happy

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by smjcee / March 20, 2007 3:49 PM PDT
In reply to: It depends

doesn't stuff belong to people too?

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by dobird / March 21, 2007 12:33 PM PDT
In reply to: stuff

I meant stuff you would like to keep for a memento. Like stuff you would take pictures of when you're on vacation and forget to take your camera and the only thing you have is your phone.

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Not wrong on PUBLIC streets/places
by cgramer / March 20, 2007 12:37 PM PDT

I don't have a problem if someone takes a photo of (or including) me on the street or in other public spaces. Publishing that photo, at least if I'm the main subject of the photo (as opposed to being "some dude in the background"), would be wrong without my permission, however.

I could see women having issues with guys taking their photos at random, though. Kinda creepy.

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Why should it be?
by Crash2100 / March 20, 2007 12:42 PM PDT

Why should it be wrong for someone to take a picture of an unknowing person with their cell phone? We get our pictures constantly taken every day. Newspaper photographers, security cameras, TV news, and who knows what else are constantly taking all of our pictures in public places. Why should someone with a cell phone camera be judged any differently?

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Is wrong to take candid cell phone pictures of stuff/people
by jragle / March 20, 2007 12:49 PM PDT

No it isn't "wrong" because in public areas, by Supreme Court decision, an individual does not have an "expectation of privacy".

Think of all the cameras that are in the public arena already taking your photo. There are security cameras for business entrances and exits or where money is exchanged. There are traffic light cameras (for catching red light runners), highway cameras (for those morning traffic reports); the list goes on and on.

Just because it's legal doesn't mean it's right. An individual's expressed permission should always be obtained; especially if the photo is "candid".

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No. It's just rude sometimes.
by ranron / March 20, 2007 1:09 PM PDT

First a response to treknology: You can't sue people for using your picture without permission while you are on public property even if the picture is for commercial use.

As with me, I've got a Nokia N93 and what is this phone for if not to take photos? Sure, it's weird if someone sees you and wips out their phone to photograph you, but once you are in public, all is free to view and record.

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Public says it all
by betsyboop4 / March 20, 2007 1:12 PM PDT

They call it being out in public for a reason. Requiring permission for pic taken in public is just ridiculous if you ask me. It is like asking people not to look at you when you are out in public; its just not going to happen.

Personally my cell phone camera has been useful on several occasions. Vehicle accident, embarassing a friend (hey, he deserved it!), comparison shopping on a big ticket item, and funny animal pics that never would have happened if I had to go get a regular camera.

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Do you think it is wrong to take candid cell phone pictures
by sgo7 / March 20, 2007 1:13 PM PDT

No. There can be no expectation of privacy when you're in a public place. Look around you, there are cameras all around anymore put there by government agencies. It also is one of the freedoms of this country we enjoy so much. If you SELL the photo that clearly identifies the person, then you have to get a model release signed by them. At least I think that's the law.

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Photo release only needed
by Machaira / March 20, 2007 4:24 PM PDT

if you use the picture for commercial purposes such as advertising or editorial palcement. For fine art sales there is no requirement for a photo release.

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Careful with the legal advice.
by death2spam / March 20, 2007 11:17 PM PDT

Before you tell people that it is legal to profit from fine art sales from an image of a person or place, please include the country/state/province/city where the laws can be verified. When dispensing legal advice it is always wise to include the verifiable reference. I know for a fact that in Canada it is legal to take all the picture you want...publishing for profit is an entirely different matter, and "for profit" can be interpreted legaly in many ways (in a court of law). Check your laws..."I heard" or "my buddy who's dad is a Lawyer" is very risky buisness indeed..especially when it turns out the laywer dada turns out to be a commercial or real estate lawyer. In my world, it is better to ask, and don't get all "what about the sailor kissing the girl in Paris" moment..well, even that one was posed, so be careful.

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Candid cell phone photos
by margsi2 / March 21, 2007 12:41 AM PDT

I don't think it's a good idea to randomly and recklessly take photos of people you don't know. I do, however, think they are a great defense if you think a crime is being commited whether to you or someone else. I would rarher carry a camera instead of a gun.

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public photos
by BungalowMo / March 20, 2007 1:20 PM PDT

The 'thought police' here in Australia have banned just about any taking of photos of anything anywhere in public on the basis of a very FEW incidents of people taking photos of children they have no association with. In a mall recently my father was almost crash tackled by security because he was holding my camera phone upwards, taking a picture of a SIGN that he thought was ridiculously funny because it said 'ATM MACHINES' (automatic teller machine machine hehe). The security thing, based on paranoia rather than any real threat level, has become absolutely ridiculously 'over the top', because the current government here has decided to not do as its' voting public wants but just follow along with certain other countries.

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A mall is not a public place.
by spider418 / March 23, 2007 2:00 AM PDT
In reply to: public photos

A mall is not a public place. It is a privately owned business which is free to set their own policies regarding photography.

But in general I do agree with you with the "over the top" comment.

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Don't agree that a mall is not a public place!
by rae2_2 / March 23, 2007 9:17 AM PDT

A mall may be privately owned but unless you need to be screened and accepted for membership in some private 'club' and have to show your membership ID at the door before being admitted to the mall, the mall is as PUBLIC a place as you'll find anywhere. Anyone off the street has full access. It's public. Sure the mall can set policies re photography but it's not because it's a private space... it's to prevent you from stealing good marketing info and ideas and using them in your own mall. Of course the policy doesn't work but that little detail never deters the mini-minds who think up these stupid rules from continuing to do so. The most the mall could do would be to usher you to the door... a charge would never make it before the courts.

Hell, even your own CAR is considered a public place by police and if you don't think so, just watch what you'll be charged with if the cops catch you naked in your own back seat while parked on a street or parking lot! If the public can see you, you're in PUBLIC!

So grin and bear it! You're on Candid Camera, more so today than ever before. If you don't like it, stay in doors or wear a burka!

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I wouldn't mind if.....
by schifferj / March 20, 2007 1:34 PM PDT

.... those things were only used to take my photo on the street - streets are meant to be public places. However, when someone takes a picture of my bare *** (or gasp, full frontal nubidity) in the gym locker room I do have strong objections. If you don't think that's being done, guess again. Why do you think most fitness clubs post rules against such activity if it isn't being done?

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Maybe awkward, but not wrong
by froasier / March 20, 2007 2:02 PM PDT

If you're trying to get up-skirt photos or something then that's probably wrong, but there's nothing wrong with normal photos of people in public areas. I wouldn't consider a public restroom or locker room a truly public area in this context, because a certain degree of privacy (i.e. from the opposite sex) is expected in those places, along with general locker/bathroom etiquette. Out on the street, etc. is completely different and free game for candid photography in my opinion. Also I don't see why cell phone pictures would differ from those taken by a normal camera other than the covert aspect. My phone, though, always makes an audible shutter sound or chime when I take a picture, so it's less covert than most digital cameras in that respect. (I can disable the shutter sound on my regular digital camera.)

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To those who think
by hriik / March 20, 2007 2:40 PM PDT

To those who think it's OK to snap a pic of me in a "public" place, feel free to do so if you want your cameraphone crushed under my heel!

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