Simon Taylor LRPS, LBPPA
I have been been inundated with requests for details regarding the petition I have started at the Number 10 e-petition site. Linked here - http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/Photography/. I have NOT said that a bill is in preparation, or that legislation is being prepared, but am referring to the ID cards proposed by various bodies which will serve to create an 'uber class' of photographer, and restrict the use of cameras by normal citizens. These cards will only further the suspicion and misunderstandings that many photographers already suffer.
Worrying injunctions have occurred - such as this one which when you read the wording of the injunction itself, seems to support restrictions from public places.
I, and many photgraphers like me are getting increasingly frustrated at the restrictions that are imposed upon us, suspicion we suffer and the incorrect assumptions that are made. The whole situation has been recently exacerbated for me by the experience of two members of my local camera club. I have deleted details of certain names to protect individuals and clubs, but the words are theirs. This is an email sent to our club chairman:
There are a number of points to be raised here :
I have asked at a couple of clubs, and it would seem that these CPO schemes often seem to be misleading as to the powers that a CPO has (or rather does NOT have), and the officials are often mis-informed, or not trained adequately.
There is a scheme in place to protect children involved in clubs and schools etc., which is operated by the Criminal Records Bureau. This is intended to screen people who come into close contact with children, and will give parents confidence that those people that temporarily care for their children are honest, good people. I have no problem with this (I am CRB checked myself), but it does not make the individual 'special', or give him any rights in law above any other person.
After further discussion of this with other clubs, and regional societies, one of the suggestions came in the form of an ID card, bearing a photograph, with wording as below :
Again, there are fundamental flaws in this approach.
1) OK, the credentials may be impressive, but so what? - why does this individual have any more rights, or is any more special than any other journalist, photographer, or member of the public?
2) Why should anyone restrict themselves to NOT take photographs for a commercial purpose?. If you are out with your camera and get a picture of something newsworthy, you should be able to sell the image the same as anyone else.
3) Why restrict yourself to using images for competitions. Why not put pictures on the wall, or again, sell them?
To summarise the card :
The card is a huge example of 'So What?' - It makes no difference if anyone is taking pictures for journalistic, commercial or amateur purposes. So what if the card carrier is stating he is only going to use pictures for competition? I think he is restricting himself unnecessarily, without any reason to do so. If he wants to sell a picture, or just pass it to the local paper for example, he should be at liberty to do so. It's like putting a sign on your car saying 'Even though I pay my road tax, I won't use a motorway' - you are restricting yourself without any reason.
What is the point of the credentials on the card? - why does this make the card carrier any better, or have more rights than anyone else? (no disrespect intended to the individual in the example)
Every citizen in the UK has the same rights as everyone else, this is a foundation of our country.
Encouraging these 'ID cards' is pointless, without authority and encourages false restriction.
If you want to carry a card, I think it would be better to carry a laminated card which states the law, so you can show it if challenged -
Deviating from the above is pandering to paranoia in my opinion.
March 2007, Simon Taylor
More notes and contributions
February 2009 - It's now illegal to take pictures of police officers, soldiers etc. - Petition to repeal new laws
481 signatures as at 23rd March 2009
Now on CurrentTV, Sky 193 & virgin 155.
I have been told by staff of the London Eye that I could not take photographs of it for "Copyright and Security reasons". Maybe because I was using a tripod was why they singled me out rather than the hundreds of tourists with hand-held cameras, but I'm sure if terrorists wanted a picture of the London Eye, they could find one on the internet, or in any one of thousands of publications.
Mr Livingstone, Mayor of London had proposed to erect signs in London's public areas suggesting that people using cameras may be taking inappropriate pictures of children. He has since made a u-turn on this, but one can't help feeling that the suspicion is still there. When influential politicians are making moves like this, it's up to us to ensure that they are put right on our rights as quickly as possible. More important is raising the issues so that the general public are aware of their rights to use a camera - it does not make you a bad person - and of other peoples right to use a camera as well.
Austin Mitchell's Early Day Motion is worth looking at.
If you do not understand your rights as a photographer, or you wish to inform a CPO or other person who incorrectly stops you taking photographs, refer to this very good summary on the subject.
This Yahoo! Group on photographer's rights might also be useful, sent from Robert Slade.
These are the reasons why I have raised the petition, and although there is no bill in the offing, it is vitally important that politicians such as Mr Livingston are fully aware of the basic rights UK citizens have, and that changes to restrict our use of cameras would require very fundamental changes in UK law.
An interesting dialogue here regarding publishing images of people in a public place. I have also in the past been requested to obscure numberplates on a car in a picture I published on the web. The complainant suggested that by me putting the picture on my website made him more likely to be the victim of car theft or cloning, and that he owned the copyright to my picture (!). The car and numberplate in question were of course, on public view every day in any case.
Tessa Mayes has written more on the subject at Spiked Online.
While I'm not entirely against CRB checks - this report at the Manifesto Club indicates how CRB and CPO over-application could even rob children of their childhood.
The Vale Of Glamorgan Council proposed to extend restrictions regarding photography in their borough. Thankfully, it was thrown out.
Paul Burgman (who admits he is bitter and twisted) seems to have misunderstood the issues, and has posted an abusive and libellous response on his blog. One of the problems with these issues can be that some people mis-understand and mis-represent the issues I have explained here, causing confusion. As the language is unnecessarily colourful, please only follow the link if you are happy to read a lot of swear words and inappropriate language.
Appeared on the Roger Phillips Show on Radio Merseyside, 9th March.
Ben Leapman of the Sunday Telegraph covers the petition on the 11th of March.
Australia - A Federal Parliament working committee proposes a ban in public places.
The response has been incredible -
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