Photographer Sues Homeland Security Dept.

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

5 Responses to “Photographer Sues Homeland Security Dept.”

  1. 1 bile April 23, 2010 at 9:30 am

    The regulation restricts non-commercial photography too. Commercial requires ‘written permission’ whereas non-commercial only requires ‘permission.’

  2. 2 discarted April 23, 2010 at 10:43 am

    If that’s the case then when did federal property stop becoming public property?

    Who is the entity that owns this federal property?

    Is it not the public?

    The public has the legal right to photograph and videotape anything they want from public space, including when they are on federal property, which is, public space that belongs to the public.

  3. 3 bile April 23, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    I’m just telling you what the regulation says 🙂

    Oh and about the Free Talk Live thing. The reason I said that at all was due to FTL telling it’s listeners that they are free to inform public officials who may be giving them a hard time about not being the press to say they are producers for the show. Since it’s an open lines talk show and often people call to talk politics it’s accurate. In the same way that and such work.

  4. 4 bile April 23, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Except where security regulations, rules, orders, or directives apply or a Federal court order or rule prohibits it, persons entering in or on Federal property may take photographs of–

    (a) Space occupied by a tenant agency for non-commercial purposes only with the permission of the occupying agency concerned;

    (b) Space occupied by a tenant agency for commercial purposes only with written permission of an authorized official of the occupying agency concerned; and

    (c) Building entrances, lobbies, foyers, corridors, or auditoriums for news purposes.

  1. 1 Settlement Ends Harassment at Federal Buildings (We Hope) « Trackback on October 18, 2010 at 7:24 pm

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