Obeying The Law

*This is what I've learned on the legalities of taking photographs lately; in-between hours of internet research, which included a review of the AZ Revised State Statutes, a review of Arizona case law, a call to the Arizona ACLU, and followup conversation with an attorney. Everything was free, except the attorney!

*When in public spaces where you are lawfully present you have the right to photograph anything  that is in plain view. That includes pictures of federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police.  Such photography is a form of public oversight over the government and is important in a free society. 

*Under federal law, you can take photos only if the owner doesn't post restrictions. This includes restaurants, cafes and most businesses, including "businesses" technically belonging to society, like a city museum, a court house or a library. Look for signs or ask someone in charge. Locations like airports and train stations often have restrictions too, for security reasons. 


*When you are on private property, the property owner may set rules about the taking of photo graphs. If you disobey the property owner's rules, they can order you off their property (and have you  arrested for trespassing if you do not comply).  

*Police officers may not generally confiscate or demand to view your photographs or video without  a warrant. If you are arrested, the contents of your phone may be scrutinized by the police, although  their constitutional power to do so remains unsettled. In addition, it is possible that courts may approve  the seizure of a camera in some circumstances if police have a reasonable, good-faith belief that it  contains evidence of a crime by someone other than the police themselves (it is unsettled whether they still need a warrant to view them). 


*Police may not delete your photographs or video under any circumstances.  

*Police officers may legitimately order citizens to cease activities that are truly interfering with  legitimate law enforcement operations. Professional officers, however, realize that such operations  are subject to public scrutiny, including by citizens photographing them.  

*Note that the right to photograph does not give you a right to break any other laws. For example,  if you are trespassing to take photographs, you may still be charged with trespass.

Now this is the condensed version, short and sweet........Paul