The War on Photography

August 25, 2011

A recent Techdirt post, 2011 WLNR 16217042,  and Fraction Magazine article describe the aggressive police and private security actions against photographers shooting architectural and other common subjects, often from public streets.  Many similar instances of overly zealous law enforcement actions and policies against both professional and amateur photographers have been widely reported online, often named the “war on photography.” Protecting crime scenes, preventing traffic congestion in the interest of public safety, and prohibitions against recording images of military installations and nuclear facilities have long been accepted limitations, but police appear to be increasingly detaining photographers capturing innocuous images of public buildings and transportation infrastructure, confiscating cameras and deleting memory cards with vague but unfounded invocations of  “the 9/11 law” or “preventing terrorism.”

 These incidents raise interesting constitutional and tort law issues for photographers.  How have they been treated in litigation and scholarly works?  Try the following search in Secondary Sources on WestlawNext (TP-ALL on Westlaw):

 TI(constitution! “first amendment” police! “law enforcement” assault batter! conversion & photographer)

 In Pleadings, Motions and Memoranda on WestlawNext (FILING-ALL on Westlaw), try the following:

 photograph! /s police! “law enforcement” security /s detain! detention (reasonab! /3 suspicio!) terry trespass! “public safety” security /p constitution! “first amendment” “fourth amendment” assault! batter! conversion & news! journalis! artistic! esthetic! aesthetic!

As an alternative, try the following plain language query in cases, filings and secondary sources on WestlawNext:

police “law enforcement”  photographer “first amendment” constitution