Posts Tagged 'Gas Company Tower'

Security Guard vs. Photographer

This is an old video from 2009 that was taken down by YouTube because the guard complained that his privacy was violated.   But it’s finally back on line, two years later, where it belongs since we all know that an expectation of privacy does not exist on a public sidewalk.

If any photographers are still being harassed by downtown Los Angeles security guards please document the encounter with video and let us know.

From YouTube:

A downtown Los Angeles security guard tells a photographer that he can’t photograph The Gas Company Tower from a public sidewalk without the property owner’s permission. The photographer informs the guard that that is not true.

Gas Tower Video Has New Home

The Biltmore Hotel, as reflected in The Gas Company Tower. Photo by teamperks

Enjoy the video here.

YouTube – More Like Censor You Tube


Today YouTube caved to a “privacy violation” complaint and took down the video of our conversation with a The Gas Company Tower security manager. What’s most puzzling is the video doesn’t fall into any of the categories in their Community Guidelines. Not even from the Privacy section:

If a video you’ve recorded features people who are readily identifiable and who haven’t consented to being filmed, there’s a chance they’ll file a privacy complaint seeking its removal.

The great majority of the video is of the guy’s torso. But forget that for a minute: We were on a public sidewalk where there is no expectation of privacy.

What’s more, we regarded the encounter as informative and instructive, especially for the guard. Perhaps he’d go back to his supervisors and they’d brush up on the law so building security and photographers can finally all just get along. From our perspective, it was cordial and no one in their right mind (other than paranoid YouTube execs) would agree this discussion on photographers’ rights was a violation of someone’s privacy.  But it seems someone felt the need to file a bogus complaint.

This is setting a scary precedent. So from now on, anyone can complain to YouTube about a video they don’t like of themselves – like all those cops who beat protestors or smash into bicyclists? They’ll just sign up for an account, file a complaint, and – bam – no more public record?

Oh well, it’s not as if that will really make the video go away or anything. We’ll post a new link soon.

LA’s Gas Tower Full of Hot Air

UPDATE: YouTube removed the video due to an apparent “privacy” complaint.

We had to go to downtown for an errand this week and, since we’d been hearing some reports of continued harassment at US Bank Tower, we thought why not do a little photographers’ rights reconnaissance while we’re there? We’re happy to report that the US Bank Tower is as friendly and respectful as ever, with a security guard coming out after a few minutes to hand us a courtesy card – and then turning right back around to go inside.
One block down at the The Gas Company Tower, however, they are apparently not on the same page (and it’s owned by Maguire Properties and patrolled by Universal Protection Service, same as US Bank). After a minute or so of harmless shooting of an escalator, a security manager who identified himself as Ivan came out and told us we couldn’t take photos of a private building. We told him that’s not true and we were on a public sidewalk. He said it was a private sidewalk (and we were very aware of the easement plaque). The usual back and forth ensued.

We ended up talking to Ivan for a bit, and he changed his tune once he realized he didn’t really have any facts to go on. He ultimately made some comments about respecting photographers’ rights and kept mentioning a courtesy card inside they normally hand out, but he really didn’t seem very prepared to tackle this issue for his superiors. It was interesting that a security manager of a major skyscraper in LA would come out to reprimand photographers and not be armed with courtesy cards, his own business cards, or any knowledge of the law. But, I guess they pay these guys just to reiterate.

The takeaway is this: Knowing your rights and standing your ground is essential. Undoubtedly nine out of 10 photographers security approaches at the Gas Company Tower apologize and leave immediately. The security staff is then emboldened to enforce a nonexistent law and trample on constitutional rights, and there is absolutely no incentive for them to do otherwise.

Interestingly, someone has filed a privacy complaint with YouTube due to the above video. How does it infringe on anyone’s rights? No face is shown, no last name is given; we’re on a public sidewalk discussing a policy that relates to photography in public. What an incredibly lame move from a very small person – someone who is perhaps embarrassed how he comes off? Just speculation, of course.



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