Photography is Not a Crime! Your Rights in Canada!
In recent years, more and more, photographers have found themselves challenged about their images. Where they are taking them! Whether or not they are legally allowed to take them, and so on. I am sure, as a photographer, you too have had moments of wonder. “Am I breaking the law”? In most instances, you are well within your rights to photograph the subjects of your choosing.
Due to the number of questions I have fielded lately, I spent some time online, trying to pull together as much detail as possible. The best article I could find came from Bill Kellett of Vancouver (www.billkellett.ca) The article below
Canadian Photographer’s Rights assembled by BillKellett.ca
NOTE: PLEASE do your own research and be comfortable with the information you have.
Photographer’s Rights & Responsibilities These guidelines are secondary to common sense, manners and respect –
- You can take a photograph of anything and anyone on any public property, (i.e.) streets, sidewalks, town squares, parks, government buildings open to the public, and public places are all OK. Except where a specific law prohibits it – generally a posted sign will advise – lack of sign does not ensure permission to photograph.
- You may shoot on private property if it is open to the public, but you are obligated to stop if the owner or owner representative (security or manager) requests it. (i.e.) malls, retail stores, restaurants and office building lobbies.
- You may photograph at public festivals and public events whether they are on public or private property, paid admittance or not. The event organizer or their representative (security) have the legal authority to demand that you stop taking pictures, the photographer must comply or typically you will be evicted from the site. Lack of ‘photography not permitted’ signage does not validate your photography.
- Private property owners can prevent photography ON their property, but not photography OF their property from a public location.
- Anyone can be photographed without consent when they are in a public place unless there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. (i.e.) private homes, restrooms, dressing rooms, medical facilities, phone booths & etc. Don’t confuse a ‘festival’ or similar event as a public place – paid admittance or not – see 3 above.
- Despite common misconceptions, the following subjects in a PUBLIC setting are almost always permissible: accidents, fire scenes, criminal activities, children, celebrities, law enforcement officers, bridges, infrastructure, transportation facilities, residential, commercial, and industrial buildings. – Don’t interfere or cause rescue delays of any incident. Use common sense.
- “For Security Purposes” is rarely an acceptable reason for restricting photography. Photographing from a public place cannot infringe on trade secrets, nor is it terrorist activity.
- Private parties cannot detain you against your will unless a serious crime was committed in their presence. The detainers may face serious legal charges.
- It is a crime for someone to threaten injury, detention, confiscation, or arrest because you are making photographs legally.
- You are not obligated to provide your identity or reason for photographing unless questioned by a law enforcement officer – most local laws require you to cooperate with the police. Employ common sense and respect – My name is Bill, I’m a hobby photographer.
- Private parties have no right to confiscate your equipment without a court order. Even law enforcement officers must obtain one unless making an arrest. No one can force you to delete photos you have made.
These are general guidelines regarding the right to make photos and should not be interpreted as legal advice. If you need legal help, please contact a lawyer.
When confronted, threatened with detention or the confiscation of equipment, ask the following questions: * What is your name? * What is the name of your employer? * May I leave? If not, what is the legal basis of my detention? * If equipment is being demanded, what is the legal basis for the confiscation?
Photographers Rights Canada Resources
USA Photographer’s Rights Advocate
If you have more/ updated information to add to this post, please do not hesitate to let me know… firstname.lastname@example.org.
“When I have a camera in my hand, I know no fear.”
– Alfred Eisenstaedt