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Old January 27th, 2008, 05:14 PM   #1
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A License to Shoot? Video and the law.

I posted here recently about the growing paranoia that I seem to be encountering as I videotape in public these days.

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=109918

My question now is...

Is there such a thing as a “License to Shoot”?

I am aware that one can get permits for specific shoots for a specific project, but let’s say I am doing a free-form documentary about my little suburban town and I want the ability to shoot just about anywhere on a whim. Does anyone know if there a permit that I can get that would satisfy the police if they should question me?
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Old January 27th, 2008, 05:45 PM   #2
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The press doesn't need a license to go shoot day-to-day news stories. They might need 'press credentials' to cover certain events, but when it comes to just being outside and talking to people, general b-roll, etc... no license.
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Old January 27th, 2008, 05:59 PM   #3
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So what do you do if someone says you can't shoot something?

For instance, I live near a Boeing plant that makes helicopters for the army. You try to shoot anywhere near that place and the cops freak out. Unfortunately it's also in a very scenic area.
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Old January 27th, 2008, 06:38 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Michael Pulcinella View Post
So what do you do if someone says you can't shoot something?
Go to this link and download the PDF file. There is a fold up version as well to carry with you.

http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm

There is some good information in that document.

-gb-
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Old January 27th, 2008, 06:53 PM   #5
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That is a really awesome link!!! Exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for that!

This should be a sticky, everyone here should read it.
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Old January 28th, 2008, 01:21 AM   #6
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It is indeed an excellent reference. I keep a copy of it in my camera bag at all times.
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Old January 28th, 2008, 11:01 AM   #7
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I just printed off a copy and will be putting it my bag shortly. Thanks for that link!
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Old January 28th, 2008, 03:02 PM   #8
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The next best thing is the Constiution. If you are standing on Public Property shooting into the gates of Boieng or anywhere else that is visible from Public Space. It is your RIGHT! The Constitution is a much larger permmision slip to carry about however so use it as a backup!
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Old January 29th, 2008, 05:11 PM   #9
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Laws regarding what a photographer (and/or camera person) can and cannot shoot (especially in post 911) can be different from state to state. Research what the laws are in your particular state. Fold that up and put it in your bag.
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Old January 30th, 2008, 03:32 PM   #10
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As a news photographer I was photographing cyclists commuting on a state highway near Pearl Harbor when harbor security came to check on me.

They claimed national security concerns about me being there with a camera. I was on a public road that had high fences obscuring what little I might see of the base. I was a credentialed veteran news photographer that went through dozens of background checks to cover anything from US presidents to royalty and, from where I stood, I couldn't see a damn thing on base.

To make matters worse, not more than a half mile away were boatloads of tourists visiting the Arizona Memorial, the USS Bowfin and the USS Missouri and snapping away with all sorts of cameras in all possible directions.

These guys also had no idea that prior to WWII there was a real spy who kept track of movements on the naval base from the hills overlooking the spot where I was standing. Anyone interested in monitoring ship movements can still do the same from those same hills.

So while they're getting all bent out of shape fussing over someone who has a legitimate reason and every legal right to be where I was, they totally missed the fact that when it comes to spying on Pearl Harbor, it's a matter of been-there-done-that more than a half century ago. And those guys were smart enough not to do it from where I was standing, in a spot where you couldn't see a damn thing and obvious to the whole wide world!

This also happened when a bunch of news crews gathered near a stream where a possible murder weapon had been allegedly tossed. While the cops dredged the stream we stood there waiting with cameras. The base PAO came to stop us, citing base security issues. We pointed out the Arizona Memorial tour boats loaded with camera-toting tourists shooting every which way and let the PAO know that those unknowns are more of a threat than we were, especially since we had already done a lot of assignments with that same PAO and were established on a first-name basis!

The PAO relented when she finally realized how ludicrous it was.
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Old January 30th, 2008, 04:50 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Keith Moody View Post
Laws regarding what a photographer (and/or camera person) can and cannot shoot (especially in post 911) can be different from state to state. Research what the laws are in your particular state. Fold that up and put it in your bag.
Precisely what that document points out Brian is that there have been no changes in post 9/11 regarding photography, but a lot of folks think there have.

I think the best thing to do is become informed, and politely, but firmly inform those who wish to stop you what the real deal is. Every situation is different as is everyone's tolerance for conflict so let your own situation be the guide.

-gb-
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Old January 30th, 2008, 04:55 PM   #12
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Well Said Greg.
I do love this forum
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Old January 30th, 2008, 08:28 PM   #13
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So, does the info in that link also apply to video?
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Old January 31st, 2008, 06:33 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Boston View Post
Go to this link and download the PDF file. There is a fold up version as well to carry with you.

http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm

There is some good information in that document.

-gb-
Thanks for that. It seems okay, but it doesn't cite any laws or anything of the like. It's just a law firm stating what his interpretation of the law is. It would be better to have something from the laws themselves.

I guess, though, it's hard to prove a negative (i.e. the lack of a law prohibiting filming, etc.)

But I guess it's a good thing to have handy to hand to someone who starts questioning you.

BTW, it refers to still photography. I assume video photography is covered by the same regulations?
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Old January 31st, 2008, 11:53 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dean Sensui View Post
They claimed national security concerns about me being there with a camera. I was on a public road that had high fences obscuring what little I might see of the base.
Since they aren't the police, are you obligated to give them any information?
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