If You Put That Picture on the Internet I’ll Call My Lawyer
My friend Jeremy Brooks blogged an altercation he had with some bozo (see photo above) on the street in San Francisco. He blogs about his experience here.
“This guy was on the corner of Stockton and Columbus in San Francisco yelling at a homeless man. Anger, conflict, drama — sounds like a great shot to me. I crossed the street but was unable to get anything interesting, since I only had my 50mm lens on the camera and I was just too far away.
However, Mr. Angry Overreaction Man decided that he now had a problem with me. He confronted me, demanding my camera. Of course, I refused. He got in my face and started threatening me, telling me that I cannot take his photo without his permission. I told him that yes, in fact, I can. He then walked up and bumped into me, trying to act tough. I told him that one more touch and I would call the police.
Of course, he didn’t like that very much, and at that point told me that if I put his picture on the internet, he would call his laywer. I assured him that his photo would be on the internet, and he then walked up and grabbed my camera lens. Well, that’s just not something that I will put up with, so I pulled the camera away from him and reached for my phone and started dialing. Once he saw that he turned away, still yelling threats, and continued on his way.
I felt bad for his daughter, who was with him, because she was obviously embarrassed by his antics and kept pleading with him to stop. I have a great shot showing her looking up as if saying “Oh boy, here he goes again”. But I’m not going to post that one, as she was not acting like an idiot and I don’t want to embarrass her. Mr. Angry Overreaction Man seems to do enough of that.
So, Mr. Angry Overreaction Man, your photo is now on the internet. Call your lawyer. Tell him somebody on a public sidewalk took your photo while you were on a public sidewalk. Then tell him you physically assaulted the photographer. See what he says.”
First off, Jeremy is absolutely within his rights to photograph anyone he wants to in public. There is no law that protects people from having their image taken or from you posting it on the internet. When someone goes out on a public street anyone can legally shoot them and publish their image within standard editorial context (i.e. news, fine art, etc.).
Now I’ve had my fair share of run ins with people who object to my taking their photograph in public. And my basic rule is this. If I shoot someone and they object and act civilly like a human being I’m more than happy to oblige their request not to publish their photograph. On the other hand if they are an asshole and are confrontational, chances are not only will I publish there photo on the internet, I very well may blog about my experience with them as well. And I might also use whatever social network I can (digg, reddit, flickr, etc.) to further share with the rest of the world what a prick they are.
It’s easy. Someone’s polite with me, I’ll probably be polite back with them. Someone threatens me or tries to touch my camera or person or is unpolite, then I figure they have it coming.
I’ve had lots of people email me and ask me to remove photos of them that I have on the internet. And I’ve removed dozens of photos I’ve published on the internet. Be respectful and you’ll get my respect. Be disrespectful and it won’t get you anywhere.
If you have the inclination digg Jeremy’s original blog post here. It would be nice to share with the rest of the world that being a jerk when someone takes your photo in public doesn’t pay.
On reddit here.