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Photographers Rights - photographing buildings
A brief guide for street photographers.
(©urban75, updated June 2013)
Property owners have no right to stop people taking photos of their buildings, so long as the photographer is standing in a public place (e.g. the road outside).
It is also not an infringement of copyright to "take photographs of buildings, sculptures and works of artistic craftsmanship that are permanently situated in a public place or in premises that are open to the public". [source]
Section 62 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 expressly permits certain copying in relation to buildings, and also to sculptures and works of artistic craftsmanship that are permanently situated in a public place or in premises open to the public, although the Advertising Standards Authority has upheld complaints when photographs of private residences have been used in advertising without the owner’s permission.
Certain uses of a photograph of a building could amount to passing off, or may infringe a trademark, but as yet there has been no such cases in the UK.
Gerroff my land
However, if you're standing on private property and the landowner/occupier objects, then they have every right to request that you stop immediately and ask you to leave if you refuse.
Many museums, art galleries, football grounds, concert venues and similar places ban photography as a condition of entry, so you can hardly complain if you get turfed out after you've whipped out your camera.
The same applies to all private property open to the public in general - e.g. offices, shops, even your local chippy - with the owner or occupier having the right to demand that you stop taking photos and get the hell out.
Most shopping centres and malls stand on private land with many gaining a notorious reputation for speedily dispatching stroppy security guards demanding that you stop taking photos.
The irony that they're already busy filming you from every angle via a flotilla of CCTV cameras is generally lost on them.
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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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