Reason.tv takes on photography and the police in this great video, “The Government’s War on Cameras.” (I particularly like all the clips of misinformed and/or rights-trampling authorities.) We finally get to see Antonio Musumeci, he of NYCLU lawsuit against the government fame, and the main message is hammered home — photography is your right, but not even the authorities know that sometimes.
As part of the New York Civil Liberties Union’s lawsuit against the federal government stemming from the Antonio Musumeci incident, they were given the above directive. It states that photographers are allowed to photograph federal buildings nationwide, and the NYCLU is encouraging photographers to carry it with them in the event they come across a problem.
As Lens reports:
The three-page bulletin reminds officers, agents and employees that, “absent reasonable suspicion or probable cause,” they “must allow individuals to photograph the exterior of federally owned or leased facilities from publicly accessible spaces” like streets, sidewalks, parks and plazas. Even when there seems to be reason to intercede and conduct a “field interview,” the directive says:
Officers should not seize the camera or its contents, and must be cautious not to give such ‘orders’ to a photographer to erase the contents of a camera, as this constitutes a seizure or detention.
You can get your copy here.
Source: Lens/New York Times
UPDATE: There have been comments on the web stating you have to provide personal information or log into Facebook in order to download the federal directive. We haven’t had time to look into the matter, but if the claims are true, that is unacceptable. Which, is why we’re providing the directive here for you to download as much as you want free of Big Brother’s prying eyes.
Who wants to shoot some pics in front of a federal building? Because now the government has acknowledged, through a settlement with the New York Civil Liberties Union, that you are allowed to do just that. Funny, you say, I thought that was already my right? Well, it’s not that simple. The NYCLU sued the government on behalf of photographer Antonio Musumeci, who was arrested in November 2009 after recording a protest at the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Federal Courthouse in Manhattan.
“Not only will this settlement end harassment of photographers outside federal courthouses, it will free people to photograph and film outside of all federal buildings,” said NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn, lead counsel in the case. “The regulation at issue in this case applies to all federal buildings, not only courthouses, so this settlement should extend to photography near all federal buildings nationwide.”
Sounds like a whole lot of government employees are going to have to be retrained.
Software developer, amateur photographer and self-proclaimed libertarian activist Antonio Musemeci and the NYCLU are suing the Department of Homeland Security for what they say was an unlawful arrest during a protest at the Manhattan federal courthouse last year. The lawsuit challenges a “government regulation that unconstitutionally restricts photography on federal property, including public plazas and sidewalks.”
Musumeci was videotaping the arrest of protestor Julian Heicklen in November 2009, when officers approached and asked what he was doing. Because he said he was freelancing (which he does for Free Talk Live – for free), he was arrested under a code which prohibits news or commercial photography on federal property. The situation was classic — very similar to the dozens of ones we’ve reported on here. The agents took his camera and poked around on it, talked down to him, threw their weight around. Ultimately only Musumeci’s memory card was confiscated after he suggested that would be the only relevant information for the agents. While charges against him were eventually dropped, Musumeci never got his memory card back.
From the NYCLU:
“We understand the need for heightened security around federal buildings, but the government cannot arrest people for taking pictures in a public plaza.”
It will be really interesting to see how this turns out, as it could be a watershed event for photographers’ rights.
You can read all of the events leading up to the arrest here.
Article from New York Daily News and blog of bile