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Photographers Rights - can they make me delete my images?
A brief guide for street photographers.
(©urban75, updated December 2009)
We've given this a separate page because it's a very important issue - your photos are your work, and you're entitled to protect them.
We deal with some of the related issues in more depth in our Photographing protests in the UK page, but here's the basic outlines of the law:
Security guards do not have stop and search powers or the right to seize your equipment or delete images or confiscate film under any circumstances.
In some circumstances, the police may grab your film or memory cards but they are still not authorised to delete any images.
After all, if you've committed an offence the images would act as evidence, and if you haven't broken the law, the images are innocent.
RECOVERING DELETED IMAGES
If you are forced to delete your photos, take the card out of the camera immediately. Whatever you do, do not take any new pictures as these will reduce your chances of recovering the deleted images. If you want to keep on snapping, use a fresh card.
When you get home, you can use a file recovery program to get your images back. These often have a high success rate.
We recommend the open source, multi-platform file data recovery software PhotoRec, and you can see a range of free and commercial offerings here: Digital Photo Backup, Rescue and Recovery Software.
You are welcome to discuss the issues on our bulletin boards Photographers rights in the UK: discussion. Please note that you will have to register to post comments (it is free).
Also: Photographing protests in the UK - advice on backing up images, streaming video and keeping your photos safe
Next: 'Anti Terrorism' measures
Note: This article attempts to be a brief educational guide to the sometimes-complex matter of your rights as a photographer. It is not legal advice and we recommend seeking out proper legal advice if you encounter problems or contributing to our bulletin boards. Some material in this article has been sourced from the UK Photographers Rights website.
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