Hey U.S. Federal Government, Photography is Not a Crime

San Francisco Federal Building

The NY Times is reporting on a case filed by the NY Civil Liberties Union regarding our right to shoot in the public plazas that surround the exterior of Federal Buildings. From the Times:

Citizens should be allowed to take photos while standing in public spaces near federal buildings, according to a lawsuit filed on Thursday by the New York Civil Liberties Union. The lawsuit challenges regulations that prohibit photography on federal property.

The lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan, names the Department of Homeland Security along with the Federal Protective Service, an unnamed federal officer, and Inspector Clifford Barnes of the Federal Protective Service.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Antonio Musumeci, 29, a software developer from Edgewater, N.J.

it goes on:

The lawsuit seeks a court order to bar federal officials from harassing or arresting people taking photos while standing in outdoor public areas by federal buildings. “In our society, people have a clear right to use cameras in public places without being hassled and arrested by federal agents or police,” said Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

It’s great to see the NYCLU supporting photographer’s rights like this.

Thanks to Scott Beale for the heads up!

Photo above of the San Francisco Federal Building from my San Francisco Federal Building set.

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  1. I quite regularly disagree with most of what the ACLU (and their local affiliates) support. However, on this issue, they are correct.

  2. Like Trevor I’m not a blind supporter of the ACLU but this is one issue that has gone on far too long. The harassment of photographers by Federal Authorities goes on in many more areas than just the vicinity of Federal Buildings.

  3. This photo and article would lead the reader to the belief that the San Francisco Federal Building is also photo-unfriendly. However, this is not my experience. Not only have I taken photographs around the exterior of the building on multiple occasions without being harassed, but when I went inside one day and talked to the front desk, next to the somewhat huge NO PHOTOGRAPHY sign and asked them, they were quite friendly and explained that I could take photographs anywhere in the building that was open to the public M-F between 9-3. And I came back on a separate occasion between those hours and true enough, I was able to photograph anyplace that wasn’t otherwise clearly closed to the public, including the fascinating garden in the ‘hole’ higher up in the building.

    When asked about the NO PHOTOGRAPHY sign, the guards explained that they asked that people did not take photographs at the guard stations themselves.

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