Toronto Images Explores Your Rights As Photographer
by Roberto Machado Noa
Recently Toronto Police was looking for a man who stopped his car in a neighborhood and starting taking photographing a girl child. Police would like to talk to this man and find out what he plans to do with the pictures.
Some articles have been written in the Globe and Mail and other influential newspapers in Toronto. In a nutshell, they make clear (even the Toronto police) that there is no crime in taking pictures. You can take pictures of everything or anyone while you are in a Public Place. Even, take pictures of police officers in action. Average citizens can not claim privacy when in a public place however they can do it when the place is not public E.g their houses,hotels, restaurants, etc. Public figures cannot claim privacy in any circumstance. That is the cost of being a personality.
There are ethical considerations to have into account. As a photographer you don't want to be rude or be picking arguments wherever you go. It is simply not worthy. However, if you found some story worth telling you are entitled to use your rights.
The articles however don't make clear where the real problems are. Toronto Images would like to clear that for you so you can avoid potential problems.
The usage you give to your photographs is where the real problem lies.
Almost every image (not to say all) can be used for editorial purpose. That is for illustrating a story in a newspaper or book. Real life is interesting and professional photographers are dedicated to register the way of life of our days. In the same way, you wow when you see an old picture, we want to leave the same legacy.
Commercial Use: You cannot use a photograph for commercial use unless you have written permission from the people in the image. That permission is call a Model Release. There is a nice app for smartphones that allow you to request such permits in the streets. It is called : Easy Release (available for Apple and Android devices). If you violate this rule you can get in legal trouble.
Another thorny theme would be if you transform or distort images to show a reality that is not. E.g In the case of the girl, police wants to clear this point. Since the individual proceeded suspiciously they are trying to avoid consequences in this direction. In this case, even if there are no crime, there could be civil consequences or liabilities.
Last but no least, It is good that every photographer know that because a person appears in one his/her picture doesn't mean that the person is entitled to a free copy. You can go to a festival and take pictures and if someone request a copy you can charge for it. This is a confusion many people have out there and photographers don't know how to react.
Hope this post was helpful
Disclaimer: Roberto Machado Noa is not a lawyer or specialist in the matter. He is a photographer with vast experience. What is written here, is based on what he has learned over the years. If you get in trouble contact a lawyer.