One issue that came up over and over again with our readers in 2011 was whether or not fans (or anyone) is allowed to take photos of celebrities or movie shoots that are filming on public streets.
Back in the spring we had several readers have issues with the crew (and later with the production company) working on The Amazing Spider-Man in NYC. The movie was filming on the street in various locations around the city, including midtown Manhattan and the Williamsburg Bridge, but fans who were watching (from a distance) were told they could not take video or photos of the scenes as they were being shot. Later, a few fans who did get video of the shoot had it removed by YouTube due to copyright issues.
A few weeks later we had readers in Michigan reporting the same type of issues while the upcoming movie AWOL was filming in Ypsilanti, MI. One of our readers, @Bananadoc, was told no one could take pictures of the movie’s sets (which were located on public streets), while another woman was told she would have to delete any set photos from her memory card.
After a similar issue on the set of Rock of Ages in Fort Lauderdale this summer, the city decided to uphold citizens’ rights to take photos in public.
So what exactly are the rules? It varies from city to city and state to state, but in general anyone can take a photo or video of anything on a public street. That person also own the rights to that photo, no matter who or what is in it.
Of course, we don’t condone taking photos of a movie shoot if you have been asked not to, especially if you have been asked politely, we understand that it does sometimes put productions in a difficult position if information is leaked before they want it to be. But, if a crew member threatens to take legal action against anyone for taking a photo on a public street they are way out of line and have little legal ground to stand on.
So, what’s the point? It’s important to know your rights.
Here is a link to a great cheat sheet of NYC’s laws about filming on the street.
For details about photo laws in other cities (which are generally the same as the those for NYC) visit your local government’s website or call your local government officials. A list of contact information for government offices can be found at https://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml.
Also be sure to check out The Photographer’s Right, a document that outlines what a photographer can and can not photograph, and what to do if you are harassed for taking photos in public.
Have you had an issue photographing a movie or TV set? Do you think people should have rights to photograph anything or anyone in public? Share your thoughts in a comment below.