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Date: 02/12/09 14:47
Amtrak Forces LA Photographer to Delete Images
Author: KevinLA

http://discarted.wordpress.com/2009/02/11/amtrak-forces-la-photographer-to-delete-images/

"Despite several embarrassing incidents for Amtrak in the news recently (in NY and DC), Amtrak employees are still woefully uninformed when it comes to photographers’ rights.

A local LA photographer, who goes by ShutterBuda, was taking photos at Union Station downtown yesterday morning for about an hour when he snapped an Amtrak employee who told him to not take photos. ShutterBuda continued shooting, when another Amtrak employee told him that he didn’t have permission to take photos. At this point, a commuter chimed in that he also objected to his picture being taken.

This guy, who claimed to be an ex-Guardian Angel, quickly became belligerent and escalated the situation into an ugly scene, yelling that ShutterBuda didn’t have permission to take his photo and threatening to ”take him down” and “smash his camera.” All three were now demanding that he delete his photos. In quick succession, the Amtrak employees called a manager over and the manager called a security guard.

Photo by ShutterBuda

Not knowing how the law applied inside Union Station, ShutterBuda complied with the demands to delete the images. “Out on the street I never would have deleted those photos – I would have said no,” he says, “but I was kind of in a grey area there.” Plus, he says, they were being abusive and he didn’t want to deal with the scene.

Soon enough three LA County Sheriffs were on the scene.

If you can imagine it: Four Amtrak employees and three sheriffs for a man taking photos of commuters inside a public building.

The sheriffs backed up the Amtrak employees, with one claiming, ShutterBuda says, ”that I needed permission from whoever owns Union Station and that I should comply with [the Amtrak staff] because they’re ambassadors for the law in some sense.” One sheriff asked to see the camera to check that the images were deleted - all of which ShutterBuda was able to get back later using recovery software.

Photo by ShutterBuda

The issue, it seems, was not ShutterBuda being there (i.e., trespassing or security risks) but that he didn’t have permission to be there. Which is a blatant fabrication. You do not need permission to shoot handheld in a public place. And you certainly do not subject yourself to the seizure of your images if you do so. That is downright illegal and possibly a Fourth Amendment issue. A court order is required for anyone to view your photos.

There’s also the issue of whether Amtrak and the sheriffs violated copyright and intellectual property laws by deleting these images, which of course is well beyond their pay grade. They are just blindly following some order they think they have the right to enforce.


In January, the National Press Photographers Association asked Amtrak to stop harassing photographers and to clarify their policy regarding photography in their facilities. Their associate general counsel said that the rail service is developing new guidelines that will be posted on the Amtrak web site. He also reiterated that photography is permitted in their stations “in spaces that are open to the public, and is limited to situations where it does not interfere with passengers and crew.”

It goes without saying that ShutterBuda’s photography in the lobby area of Union Station was not affecting the trains, passengers or crew in any negative way - or, really, in any way whatsoever.

In the meantime, let Amtrak know this has to stop on this feedback form or by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL and speak to a customer service agent about where you can send a complaint.

And please contact the following District 14 representatives, the LA County Transit Service Bureau and the NPPA to voice your concerns.

Jose Huizar - Councilmember, District 14
City Hall Office
200 N. Spring Street, Rm 465
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: (213) 473-7014

Henry Casas, Deputy Chief of Staff, Community Affairs, District 14
200 N. Spring Street, Rm 465
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: (213) 473-7014
Fax: (213) 847-0680
Email: Henry.Casas@lacity.org

——————————–

LA County Sheriff, Transit Service Bureau
Phone: (323) 563-5000

LA County Sheriff, Additional Complaints Hotline
Phone: (323) 526-5541

——————————–

National Press Photographers Association - NPPA
3200 Croasdaile Drive, Ste 306
Durham, NC 27705
Phone: (919) 383-7246
Fax: (919) 383-7261
info@nppa.org

Jim Straight, NPPA Executive Director
director@nppa.org"



Date: 02/12/09 15:03
Re: Amtrak Forces LA Photographer to Delete Images
Author: zuco74

OK I just looked at ShutterBuda's profile on Flickr and it seems that most of his shots @ LAUPT seem to be shots taken of people in & around the station.

I mean yea, photography of trains is cool but come on. You take pics of people, yes I'm sure some of them are going to object. If you get their permission well then, that's OK.

.02

Tony



Date: 02/12/09 15:14
Re: Amtrak Forces LA Photographer to Delete Images
Author: krapplem

From the wordpress.com website:

"Who We Are
We are photographers & concerned citizens living in Los Angeles. / With the goal to shoot photographs freely in public spaces wherever, whenever, of whoever. / And a desire to get the word out, educate and engage.

There aren’t many legal restrictions on what you can photograph from a public place that’s already in public view. If you’re harassed, it’s almost certainly a law enforcement official, public or private, acting way beyond his authority. - Bruce Schneier, Security Tech Specialist"

Notice the operative word "engage". In other words they are activists that go around trying to create situations that they can complain about. I took plenty of pictures of LAUPT when I was their over a year ago, in full view of several Amtrak and station employees. Nobody ever said a word. Of course, I wasn't sticking a camera in people's faces either.



Date: 02/12/09 15:40
Re: Amtrak Forces LA Photographer to Delete Images
Author: joemvcnj

Who threw the first punch ? (or who threatened who first).

Seems to me the irate "commuter" is the one who first threatens violence and to destroy other's property.



Date: 02/12/09 16:11
Re: Amtrak Forces LA Photographer to Delete Images
Author: TCnR

Sounds like the 'photos on-board the Diner' discussion from a couple of months ago.



Date: 02/12/09 16:30
Re: Amtrak Forces LA Photographer to Delete Images
Author: a737flyer

With the amount of crime in the LAUPT area...car break-ins and so on, I have a small, no large problem with the Gestapo barking at some guy about taking pictures.

Get a grip!



Date: 02/12/09 16:48
Re: Amtrak Forces LA Photographer to Delete Images
Author: wjpyper

If you are walking around in a public place like LAUPT you cannot expect any privacy. If you don't want your picture taken, stay home.



Date: 02/12/09 17:11
Re: Amtrak Forces LA Photographer to Delete Images
Author: Lackawanna484

I wonder if this incident was part of the "photographers' rights" protest which took pictures at Gas Company Tower and other locations in Los Angeles? The dates seem close (January 19 for Rights Day). A large group of photographers set out taking pictures in many public locations, and attracted the interest of police and security guards.

In general, I support the right of people to take pictures where ever of of whatever they want in public places for non-commercial uses. But, I think there's more to this story than we've heard so far.


http://allnarfedup.com/2009/01/19/encounters-at-the-photographers-rights-protest-in-la/



Date: 02/12/09 17:36
Re: Amtrak Forces LA Photographer to Delete Images
Author: wigwagfan

I was at Los Angeles Union Station last November and took a number of pictures in and around the station, including a few inside of the station (in full view of a security guard), at the Red Line station (including video) and on the Amtrak/Metrolink platform.

Not once was I approached, including when I was in full view of security guards or Amtrak (or Metrolink) employees or Los Angeles County Sheriffs' Deputies.

My guess is that someone saw the camera and didn't want their picture taken - and then objected when it was clear that their picture WAS being taken. (I made sure that nobody was in my picture; or that at least they were so far in the distance or turned away from me that they weren't identifiable.)

Yes, you have no expectation of privacy in public. It still does not give anyone the right to whip out a camera and take pictures of people without their knowledge. It's one thing if you're taking a picture of a crowd of people...but if someone is easily identifiable, they have a right to object.

Just ask Michael Phelps how he felt having his picture taken...

Back in 2003 I had ridden Amtrak into LAUS, and despite it being post-9/11, I was able to take plenty of pictures in and around the station; and even baggage handlers on the platform were kind enough to let me get my pictures before they drove their carts in front of me.



Date: 02/12/09 17:36
Re: Amtrak Forces LA Photographer to Delete Images
Author: calzephyr48

ShutterBuda appears to be a commercial photographer, or if not, a very talented and practiced amateur. In any event, someone with his experience certainly should know that it's unethical and quite possible illegal, to publish pictures of people without securing the appropriate releases. It's also not unexpected that the owner of the property would insist on his requesting, and their granting, permission to shoot pictures. That permission would be contingent upon his furnishing the property owner a certificate of liability insurance naming the owner as an additional insured, and likely some fee in exchange for the right to shoot on the premises.



Date: 02/12/09 17:51
Re: Amtrak Forces LA Photographer to Delete Images
Author: DNRY122

Yes, it's one thing to be taking casual photos for your own use or to share with fellow railfans; it's quite another to get closeups of people who, for whatever reason, don't want to be photographed. I remember a visit to Toronto in 1977, where I was taking 8mm movies of the streetcars. I spotted a horse-drawn carriage (for tourists wanted a low speed excursion) and thought I'd add it to my transport-oriented film. As soon as the driver saw me, his hand went in front of his face and I quit shooting. Since it was not long after the Vietnam War, I figured he thought I might send copies to people "south of the border". Most photographers have enough courtesy to back off when someone doesn't want to be in the picture. Of course we in Southern California are in one of the "paparazzi" centers of the world, so an "in-your-face" attitude may be found even when there are no celebrities in the vicinity.



Date: 02/12/09 18:07
Re: Amtrak Forces LA Photographer to Delete Images
Author: AMW Engr

I would think that if you took a photo of an Amtrak employee in the performance of their duties, then you took a picture of Amtrak. I'm not saying that the person is just a thing, but it is the same as taking a photo of an engine, or station. The employee is the "property" of Amtrak. Also, the platform is open to anyone and is therefore a public place. Who owns the station is irrelevant, it is a public place in the eyes of the law. There are no signs stating that photography is illegal. In a city that has a high crime rate, with crimes including murder, rape, theft, assault, robbery, drugs, and gang issues, I would think that prosecution of "illegal" photography would fall in line behind unleashed dogs, J walking, and failure to use a turn signal.

Post 9/11 "vigilance" has fallen somewhere between paranoia and insanity, and cases like this are a result of that.



Date: 02/12/09 18:08
Re: Amtrak Forces LA Photographer to Delete Images
Author: sevenmilesiding

Back in October I took about 15 minutes of video in LAUPD. I was focusing on the building itself, but lots of people were in the photos. I was never approached and never asked to stop taking photos. Having said that, it does seem a bit rude to take close ups of random people for no reason.



Date: 02/12/09 18:58
Re: Amtrak Forces LA Photographer to Delete Images
Author: ATSF429

Yoy guys are funny.



Date: 02/12/09 20:03
Re: Amtrak Forces LA Photographer to Delete Images
Author: espeeboy

a737flyer Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> With the amount of crime in the LAUPT area...car
> break-ins and so on, I have a small, no large
> problem with the Gestapo barking at some guy about
> taking pictures.
>
> Get a grip!


WTH? (what the heck?)

So "barking" at someone over security issues is one thing but FORCING a photographer to delete his digital photos just because you don't like having your picture taken (more like you are a Guardian Angel in the wrong profession with a major anger management problem) or because you have no idea what the law states is completely absurd, illegal and uncalled for. I still don't get why people give in.


To date in the last 5 years I have directly faced U.S. Custom agents one-on-one three times now - all railfanning at the Port of Oakland ON PUBLIC LAND doing my normal thing taking train photos. Everytime they have asked to see my photos, I cooperate and show them my SLR (helps even more today having the large 3" SLR screen). BUT I would never give in to their bogus requests to have me delete them. At least U.S. Customs has gotten used to me scouting out my normal Oakland grounds these days. In fact they are very professional, courteous, reasonable and cool to talk with out and around the P of O.


PROTECT FREEDOM OF PHOTOGRAPHY!!!

~~~



Date: 02/12/09 20:15
Re: Amtrak Forces LA Photographer to Delete Images
Author: ProRail

ATSF429 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Yoy guys are funny.

Absobloominlutely



Date: 02/12/09 21:09
Re: Amtrak Forces LA Photographer to Delete Images
Author: OliveHeights

DNRY122 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Of course we in Southern California are
> in one of the "paparazzi" centers of the world, so
> an "in-your-face" attitude may be found even when
> there are no celebrities in the vicinity.


The paparazzi should be a good example for the rest of us to follow. They clearly know the difference between "public property" and a "public place."

You see them at the airport because that is publicly owned. You see them outside stores and restaurants, on public property, but you don't see them in malls, stores or restaurants, even though they are public places, they aren't public property and you have to have the owners permission to photograph on their property.

As pointed out, you could probably take photos most any day at LAUPD and not have a problem. However being asked to delete a photo you took in a public place is not the end of the world.
It is like speeding on the highway, you can get away with it most of the time, but every once in a while you get caught.



Date: 02/13/09 00:22
Re: Amtrak Forces LA Photographer to Delete Images
Author: ry

wigwagfan Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Yes, you have no expectation of privacy in public.
> It still does not give anyone the right to whip
> out a camera and take pictures of people without
> their knowledge. It's one thing if you're taking
> a picture of a crowd of people...but if someone is
> easily identifiable, they have a right to object.

Actually, being in a public space DOES give ANYONE the "right to whip out a camera and take pictures of people without their knowledge". As much as anyone might want there to be, there simply is NO "right" that protects you from having your photograph taken in a public space. (Objecting to the USE of a photograph is an entirely different matter, but use is a fundamentally different act, taking place- Polaroids notwithstanding -well apart from the picture-taking scenario.)

Now, as far as 'common decency' goes (or one's personal expectation of politeness or courtesy)-- that's a whole 'nother matter and one that I'm not disagreeing with. But, so long as there's no actual law (such as harassment or trespassing) being broken, I'm trying to make it clear that no "right" is being violated, at least in what's being described in this thread.


OliveHeights Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> It is like speeding on the highway, you can get
> away with it most of the time, but every once in a
> while you get caught.

More like smoking a cigarette while driving solo down the highway: Nothing illegal about it, but some of us think that it should be, on account of some people who (illegally) ash out the window or get distracted while chasing embers out of their laps.



Date: 02/13/09 02:48
Re: Amtrak Forces LA Photographer to Delete Images
Author: lwilton

When you are on private property (which is what Onion Station presumably is) even in a public space, and you are a professional photographer, or a professional sound recorder, or any other sort of professinoal, it is standard practice to go to the press office, announce your presence, and ask for permission to shoot/record/whatever. They may ask for some form of id, or want to know who you are and what you are recording. If you can satisfy them (which is usually pretty easy) then they usually give you a press pass or the like, and possibly a minder, and send you off to do your recording.

There are exceptions to this that are generally made for things like Dad taking pictures of Mom and the Kids when they get off the train, or (possibly) for a legit news-person-type to take pictures without announcing their presence first. This generally only applies to a "breaking news" situation, and not to walking around collecting images for a story. While the National Press Photographers claim they have a first amendment right to shoot anything anywhere without permission, that is BS. It only applies to public places that are not privately owned. Try walking into the front gate of Disneyland with a TV camera and a sound guy in tow and see just how far you get before you find yourself surrounded by guards and out the back door. (Hint: you won't get past the gate.) Call the press office and tell them you are coming, and they will let you in just fine, and also assign a minder. One important reason for the minder it to "tag" you as valid, so all the guards in the park won't keep coming up to you and trying to throw you out.

This applies to practically all places and all times where you intend to do "commercial" recording. I have a friend that records atmospheric sound all over the world. He's recorded in most of the train stations in new York at one time or another. He calls them first, tells them when he will be there, and has no problems.

Sometimes you call the press office and they tell you 'no'. The correct action at that point in time is generally NOT to tell them FU and come anyway without permission. It tends to annoy the animals.



Date: 02/13/09 03:00
Re: Amtrak Forces LA Photographer to Delete Images
Author: royaltrain

Other than the notorious incident with the dining car manager on the Coast Starlight last December (with much discussion on this board and Youtube) I never had a problem with taking videos on Amtrak trains and especially in L.A.'s Union Station. In fact a few years ago at LAUPT I was blatantly taking a video from the front of the Red Cap's mobile cart as he drove me up to the station platform--nobody objected at any time.



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