BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004

Single source for policies?

Since this seems like the place to ask about copyright information and model releases, I have a question about an instance that really burned me. I was in a mall waiting for my girlfriend to finish her highlighting, and I was sitting on a bench outside of the store. This was in a somewhat large mall so there was the large hall area with many different store fronts and kiosks standing in the middle of the hall (once again a very large hall, I'm sure you all know what I mean when I say a "mall"). I have an assignment for my photography class that has to do with the importance of shutter speed and aperture usage being critical in a picture and "capturing a moment".
While I was at sitting on the bench I saw many families walking by so I decided to get some pictures and hope that some of these would be ideal for my assignment. I didn't want to just put the camera up to my eye and take pictures with them feeling uncomfortable so I decided to look like I was fiddling with my camera and such or possible sitting the camera on the edge of the bench using my autofocus and checking my exposure on the top LCD screen. After a while a "policeman" (could have just been mall security, I don't know) wanders by and notices I have a camera out and seem to not just be looking at it. He asks "What are ya doin? Just takin pictures? Of specific people, err...?" I reply that I'm in a photography class and I'm trying to get a special moment with families and such. He began telling me that there could be copyright issues with getting all the store fronts in a picture and asks me to stop. I have read through here a little and I don't think that there are any copyright issues because my slides I'm using are only for my class, in which case I may not even show them to anyone in my class, maybe just my closest friends to pic their favorites. These would not in any way be considered for any stock photography business. Am I in the wrong or is the officer since I am in a public place (mall) and not using the pictures for any other purpose than fulfilling my instructor's assignment? Thanks!

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2/6/2005 11:48:11 PM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/18/2000
  The security guard is not well versed in copyright law. However, malls are not public places, they are private property and the owners are within their right to restrict or prohibit photography on the premises. The reason is to protect shoppers' privacy and so that they do not feel threatened, and many stores/leasees are very protective of their pricing/displays/etc.

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2/7/2005 6:43:10 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  It's not the shoppers privacy, it's the stores that don't want pictures taken because of competitors. It is the store displays, as well as prices, and any way a competing store could use any photo as an advantage.
You'd have to contact the mall office and get their okay about it.
Unless you're a foreign tourist taking your picture standing next to the giant gum ball machines.

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2/7/2005 11:10:39 AM

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