The Photographer’s Right About this Guide Confrontations that impair the con-stitutional right to make images are becoming more common. To fight the abuse of your right to free expression, you need to know your rights to take photographs and the remedies avail-able if your rights are infringed. The General Rule The general rule in the United States is that anyone may take photographs of whatever they want when they are in a public place or places where they have permission to take photographs. Absent a specific legal prohibition such as a statute or ordinance, you are legally entitled to take photographs. Examples of places that are tradition-ally considered public are streets, sidewalks, and public parks. Property owners may legally pro-hibit photography on their premises but have no right to prohibit others from photographing their property from other locations. Whether you need permission from property own-ers to take photographs while on their premises depends on the circum-stances. In most places, you may rea-sonably assume that taking photo-graphs is allowed and that you do not need explicit permission. However, this is a judgment call and you should request permission when the circum-stances suggest that the owner is like-ly to object. In any case, when a prop-erty owner tells you not to take photo-graphs while on the premises, you are legally obligated to honor the request. Some Exceptions to the Rule There are some exceptions to the general rule. A significant one is that commanders of military installations can prohibit photographs of specific areas when they deem it necessary to protect national security. The U.S. Department of Energy can also pro-hibit photography of designated nuclear facilities although the publicly visible areas of nuclear facilities are usually not designated as such. Members of the public have a very
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