Photography and the Law
Photography can sometimes be in conflict with 'The Law' and it might help to know something about your rights as a photographer.
In the United Kingdom there are no laws forbidding photography of private property from a public place. Photography is not restricted on land if the landowner has given permission to be on the land or the photographer has legal right to access, for example Byways Open to All Traffic or a public right of way or an area of open access land. The Metropolitan Police state in their own advice "Members of the public and the media do not need a permit to film or photograph in public places and police have no power to stop them filming or photographing incidents or police personnel". The IAC, Film and Video Institute recommends to follow instruction given by police as there may be a reason you are unaware of for not filming. An exception is an area that has prohibitions detailed within anti terrorism legislation. Civil proceeding can be taken if a person is filmed without consent, and privacy laws exist to protect a person where they can expect privacy. Two public locations in the UK, Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square, have a specific provision against photography for commercial purposes without the written permission of the Mayor or the Squares' Management Team and paying a fee, and permission is needed to photograph or film for commercial purposes in the Royal Parks or on any National Trust land.
You never know when one, or more of the following links, whilst not exhaustive, might come in handy.
NB. SPC cannot accept responsibility for the accuracy of the information contained in the links.
- Association of Chief Police Officers of England, Wales and Northern Ireland Communication Advisory Group - Guidance for Photographers.
- A recent freedom of information request sent to the British Transport Police by a photographer asking if the above guidance is still current – the answer is yes it is, if you don't want to have to read it.
- Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland.
- Metropolitan Police (UK) Photography advice.
- 'Stop Card' UK – the letter from ACPO at the top is probably better.
- British Transport Police’s position on photography.
- Scotrail’s statement on photography.
- Glasgow Subway (Rail)’s rules on photography.
- Network Rail (UK)’s position on photography.
- Useful Digital Camera World (UK) article on photographer’s rights.
- Useful PDF covering UK rights.
- Who, what, why: What does it mean to be de-arrested? (UK)
- 8 Legal Cases Every Photographer Should Know.
- Drone rise may call for new legislation, says photography lawyer.
- Pilots Demand ‘Safe Drone Zone’ in UK skies.
- The Information Commissioner’s Office warns UK broadcasters over filming using drones.
- Metrolink (USA)’s statement on photography.
- Some advice on photographing the police in the USA.
- Some advice on giving (or not giving) your details to the American police.
- American Photographers’ rights (1).
- American photographers’s rights (2).
- Australian Street photographers and the law.
- Can you take a picture? A look at your right to photograph in Canada.