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Police Forum Police Head Mod: Skidmark
Questions & info about the Motor Vehicle Act. Mature discussion only.

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Old 12-12-2012, 11:24 PM   #1
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Know Your Rights: Taking Photos in Public

Know Your Rights: Photographers | American Civil Liberties Union

I was browsing the web, when i found this site talking about the basic civil rights of American citizens, and photographing things in public, especially police officers. It was an interesting read. However, since the First Amendment is not applicable to Canada, and the information within this website is not applicable to Canadian citizens, is there a Canadian version to this, and where can i view this information?

Thank you in advance to any members of VPD RCMP or individuals who speak "legalese"



tl;dr: how can i find out if photographing police officers in public is legal or not in canada, and if i'll get my ass beat with a billy club if i do.


kthxbai
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Old 12-13-2012, 07:13 AM   #2
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It depends on how you take the pictures. If you are obstructing Police as they perform their duties, that can be a problem. If you tresspass onto a crime scene, that can be a problem. If your pictures are required as evidence later then they could be seized and you become part of the investigation and trial later. If you cause the Police concern for officer safety ie. stand behind them or in close proximity, then that also could be a problem.

If you are a distance away and it is a public place and you do not come under those suggested areas then I can't see a problem.....saying that, I'm not a lawyer and if you intend in doing what you suggested, maybe you should research what you are planning with one. The one question they would probably ask, and you should ask of yourself, why are you doing this? As far as what constitutes grounds for an "ass beat", look at the Chris Rock video.
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Old 12-13-2012, 10:36 AM   #3
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Zulutango, thank you for your knowledgeable reply. It all seems very reasonable, and very similiar to the suggestions in the link i alluded to in the OP. I also understand that this is mainly theory, and when it boils down to it, having a lawyer backing me would greatly help.

Please dont take the fact that I am asking these questions as a way to somehow find a "loophole" or anything of the like. I am not planning anything; I am just preparing myself for when anything may happen. Understanding my rights as a Canadian citizen, how I should behave in front of officers of the law, as well as how officers of the law should behave, especially under photo or video scrutiny, is like taking a self defense course. It is only that: for self defense.

Understand: I appreciate and respect what police officers do for the general public. This is one of the reasons why i want to become a police officer myself. However, it is reasonable to assume that there will be people who abuse their power in their respective positions; this can be seen in all professions. They can be other public servants (teachers, politicians), or the CEO of exxon mobil, the list goes on. The crux of the matter boils down to this: There are bad people, and bad people fill all sorts of positions in our society.

Knowledge is power. I never want to be intimidated by a police officer when he says that the act of videotaping or photographing peace officers in public is a crime and will come with jail time. As for Chris Rock, as long as i dont have an irate woman in the car yelling HE GOT DRUGS, HE GOT DRUGS i should be fine.
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Old 12-13-2012, 11:22 AM   #4
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Everything on that website is directly applicable to Canada. The only issues that might arise are the ones that Zulutango brought up. Other then that, so long as your are in a "public place" you can take pictures of whatever or whoever you want.

The law is pretty clear on the issues of photography in common law countries. These issues was addressed many times in cases where celebrities tried to bar paparazzi's from taking their pictures in public.

Some cases that come to mind are John v Associated Newspapers Ltd., where Sir Elton John was photographed walking out of his car, wearing a track suit, so he sued the newspaper and wanted the House of Lords to grant an injunction from publishing those pictures in the newspaper. He lost the case, because he was in a "public place" and thereby, anyone can take a picture of him.

Another case that was quite controversial was Campbell v Mirror Group Newspapers. Basically what happened there, Naomi Campbell was photographed leaving a rehab clinic. The picture was taken when she left the front door of the clinic and walked down a few steps directly into a parked limo. The picture was taken in that little interval when she was walking down the stair of a "public place". House of Lords held controversially that this did not constitute a public place, but was an extension of a private place (rehab clinic) and she could have relied on her reasonable expectation of privacy.

Although the cases above do represent issues of photography in relation to ordinary citizens so to speak and not figures of authority (like police), the police are not granted any immunity simply because they are police. Once again, the only limitations that come into my head are the same ones brought up by Zulutango.

Also, photography is a form of expression/freedom of press that is protected under Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, s. 2(b). These rights can be enforced "vertically" or against the government and its agents, or entities carrying a governmental function (provincially funded hospitals for instance).

Here is something that might be of interest to you. This is the law as it is in Ontario, so there might be a few minor differences from province to province but I would say this pdf is directly applicable to the law here in BC:

http://media.ambientlight.ca/wp-cont...-Laws-V1.0.pdf
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Old 12-13-2012, 04:10 PM   #5
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Thank you very much for your concise reply, along with the case examples! Going to keep a copy of the PDF on my phone.
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Old 12-14-2012, 12:24 AM   #6
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Slightly off topic but what about filming?
For example having your dash camera in the vehicle recording both audio and video of a police officer/peace officer?
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Old 12-14-2012, 12:30 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by omega_cc View Post
Thank you very much for your concise reply, along with the case examples! Going to keep a copy of the PDF on my phone.
might wanna keep a copy of this as well:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sectio...s_and_Freedoms
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Old 12-14-2012, 01:01 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ruthless View Post
Slightly off topic but what about filming?
For example having your dash camera in the vehicle recording both audio and video of a police officer/peace officer?
Law does not discriminate between filming and picture taking to tell you the truth and so filming is protected under the freedom of press as well.
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