Know your rights as a Canadian photographer

Last modified on July 10th, 2007

I stumbled across an article tonight about a student who was trying to take a photo of a building and ended up on the group being harassed by some rogue security guard. Obviously the security guard claimed that the building could not be photographed and took it upon himself to intervene.

I read about stuff like this all the time, and as a photographer I occasionally run into things like that too. I was in Pacific Center a while ago playing with a lens when a security guard came up to me and threatened to take my camera way unless I stopped taking photos. While at Harvard a few years ago, I had a police officer approach me and demand I remove his photo from my camera. These situations are obviously stressful and can easily get out of hand.

I set out trying to find some good resources for what your rights actually are for a photographer, but I found the resouces on the web a bit lacking.

Here’s what I did find though:

A couple of excerpts from PhotoJunkie:

A) You have the right to take photographs where ever you want. That being said be aware if you are doing so on private property.

B) No one can tell you to legally delete a photo. Once you have taken a photo they are your property.

C) Know the criminal code. For example if you are on private property and some one asks you to stop talking photos, if you continue, that would be considered trespassing, which is against the law.

D) Common sense and courtesy go a long way. Being defensive and causing a scene will not necessarily help your case. Take a second to think before you speak.

I actually think this is an important area for discussion. I’m going to think about how to do that over the next little while, and maybe even call a few people at the police station or city hall for their perspective too.

2 responses to “Know your rights as a Canadian photographer”

  1. S says:

    What I heard before is that you were allowed to take picture of a group of people (like a crowd) and were able to publish it without having to pay royalties to the participants. However, if you take a picture of a single person (or a few) and publish it, then they can claim some royalties or force you to take it down since you are profiting from their image. Anyway that’s a bit different than what you said. The security guard was probably just wishing he was a cop. I had a similar issue in London when I took pictures inside Waterloo train station. A security guard came quickly and told me to stop and said I needed an official pass to be allowed to do so. I guess London has some security issues so I can understand that one.

  2. Duane Storey says:

    I didn’t really say anything did I? I thought I just linked to other resources..

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