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08/21/2007 08:42:00 AM · #1
If I was to go out and shoot graffiti writers as part of a series, and say we were to get arrested. Is there any crime for "documenting" illegal activities? I realize that my main problem here would probably be a trespassing charge. Also, what legal rights would my images have, as in could they be used against the graf writer?

***EDIT**********
I think my initial post is making it hard to get to the issue I was addressing.

The issue I was addressing was simply this:

Are documentary photographers who are doing a study of a topic that includes a crime being committed (whether it be a speeding, graffiti, jay walking, it doesn't matter) liable to the same legal ramifications that the person committing the crime is, or are they granted any sort of "immunity." My examples are things like: News programs watching a hacker break into a computer system, HBO filming "HOOKERS AT THE POINT" in which prostitutes solicit johns on camera and in some cases perform (audio only), documentaries on drug abuse where they will accompany the subject while he cops and subsequently uses drugs.

****/EDIT*****

Message edited by author 2007-08-21 16:45:15.
08/21/2007 08:56:04 AM · #2
It depends, I suppose, on if they could show you knew what was going to go on vs. just stumbling upon it while out taking pictures. The police could probably seize your camera and images as evidence to use against the graf writer.

Your best bet, aside from just avoiding the situation, would be to consult a lawyer beforehand. Of course after arresting you, the police give you a phone call too.

Message edited by author 2007-08-21 08:56:34.
08/21/2007 08:56:31 AM · #3
did you ever watch Seinfeld?

Originally posted by ajdelaware:

If I was to go out and shoot graffiti writers as part of a series, and say we were to get arrested. Is there any crime for "documenting" illegal activities? I realize that my main problem here would probably be a trespassing charge. Also, what legal rights would my images have, as in could they be used against the graf writer?
08/21/2007 09:17:16 AM · #4
The cops would be the least of your worries, I'd worry more about the tagger's retaliation if the cops used your photos against them. I'd get a longer lens than your 50mm, and shoot as far away as possible. ;-)
08/21/2007 09:37:05 AM · #5
I wouldn't do it.

I'm guessing if you are there shooting it (assuming you don't call the police and turn them in), you become just as guilty as those doing it. And your photos make great evidence to help the case against you!
08/21/2007 09:38:00 AM · #6
Originally posted by Telehubbie:

The cops would be the least of your worries, I'd worry more about the tagger's retaliation if the cops used your photos against them. I'd get a longer lens than your 50mm, and shoot as far away as possible. ;-)


Haha. I know most of the ones I would be shooting, and have known them for the better part of the last ten years, so I dont think that would be an issue.

Plus Im talkinga bout going out shooting with them, not an after the fact stumbled on the graf. Im talking about making plans to say look - lets hit this trainyard tonite at 2am or something wild.
08/21/2007 09:39:51 AM · #7
Originally posted by LoudDog:

I wouldn't do it.

I'm guessing if you are there shooting it (assuming you don't call the police and turn them in), you become just as guilty as those doing it. And your photos make great evidence to help the case against you!


But then how do expose documentaries where the the documenter will accompany the person to score drugs or buy guns, and then film them shooting up or something like that, how do they get away with it?
08/21/2007 09:40:45 AM · #8
Wouldn't that make you an accessory to the crime?
08/21/2007 09:56:35 AM · #9
sounds more like he planned the crime...


08/21/2007 09:59:12 AM · #10
Ha. Let me rephrase, if I was told to meet the artist at the trainyard (as opposed to me telling them to meet me there)

Hell let me rephrase all together.

If I was doing a day in the life type shot, where I met up with the person in the morning and followed them around all day just shooting and and getting an idea of what they are all about, and one of the things includes them throwing a piece up on the side of a building, which I document. What is my liability in that. Not from the point as they are friend of mine, but from the stance that I am really an outside observer, just documenting what I see.
08/21/2007 09:59:46 AM · #11
Why don't you ask a lawyer (or even the police directly) rather than risking a stretch of jail time on the advice of a bunch of random people on the Internet.
08/21/2007 10:01:56 AM · #12
Originally posted by ajdelaware:

Im talking about making plans to say look - lets hit this trainyard tonite at 2am or something wild.


"Say look - let's hit my car tonite at 2am or something wild."

No crime committed that way and you get cool art on your car!
08/21/2007 10:02:15 AM · #13
Because I figured there are enough PJs on here that would have the answer for me. But I guessss not.
08/21/2007 10:04:34 AM · #14
Found a decent article:

Ethics
08/21/2007 10:30:25 AM · #15
I'm guessing they just don't get caught?

Law or not, in my book if you know a crime is being commiied and choose to photograph it rather then prevent it, you deserve the same fate as the people commiting the crime.

On top of the legal and ethical issues: Man Law, if your friends are doing something that isn't right, don't take pictures.

08/21/2007 10:45:00 AM · #16
I look at it from the same angle that that a documentary filmmaker would.

For example, take those documentaries on prostitutes that HBO has filmed in the past. It shows girls working the streets, and getting in cars with johns, and accepting cash. The girls are very open about what they do, and its clearly a crime. This was aired on television.

So I guess the key is not to get caught, youre right. And I think once the deed is done, I guess you cant get prosecuted, unless all the HBO documentary makers got arrested after it was aired.
08/21/2007 10:47:30 AM · #17
or unless the HBO documentaries were scripted and staged (not that that would ever happen).
08/21/2007 10:51:43 AM · #18
Originally posted by karmat:

or unless the HBO documentaries were scripted and staged (not that that would ever happen).


Ive seen other documentaries though where crimes were taking place though, but I guess that always is a possibilitiy.
08/21/2007 11:07:51 AM · #19
Originally posted by ajdelaware:

If I was doing a day in the life type shot, where I met up with the person in the morning and followed them around all day just shooting and and getting an idea of what they are all about, and one of the things includes them throwing a piece up on the side of a building, which I document. What is my liability in that. Not from the point as they are friend of mine, but from the stance that I am really an outside observer, just documenting what I see.


Let me start by saying, the advice you get here is worth the money you spend.

It's not against the law to photograph something happening in public.

According to //krages.com/phoright.htm:
"Despite misconceptions to the contrary, the following subjects can almost always be photographed lawfully from public places:

accident and fire scenes
children
celebrities
bridges and other infrastructure
residential and commercial buildings
industrial facilities and public utilities
transportation facilities (e.g., airports)
Superfund sites
criminal activities
law enforcement officers"

Notice "criminal activites" is mentioned, so you should be fine.

08/21/2007 11:09:23 AM · #20
Thank you. Thats what I was looking for.
08/21/2007 11:34:19 AM · #21
Originally posted by Nullix:

Originally posted by ajdelaware:

If I was doing a day in the life type shot, where I met up with the person in the morning and followed them around all day just shooting and and getting an idea of what they are all about, and one of the things includes them throwing a piece up on the side of a building, which I document. What is my liability in that. Not from the point as they are friend of mine, but from the stance that I am really an outside observer, just documenting what I see.


Let me start by saying, the advice you get here is worth the money you spend.

It's not against the law to photograph something happening in public.

According to //krages.com/phoright.htm:
"Despite misconceptions to the contrary, the following subjects can almost always be photographed lawfully from public places:

accident and fire scenes
children
celebrities
bridges and other infrastructure
residential and commercial buildings
industrial facilities and public utilities
transportation facilities (e.g., airports)
Superfund sites
criminal activities
law enforcement officers"

Notice "criminal activites" is mentioned, so you should be fine.


Yes, as long as you're shooting from public property.
08/21/2007 11:39:56 AM · #22
Originally posted by Spazmo99:

Originally posted by Nullix:

Originally posted by ajdelaware:

If I was doing a day in the life type shot, where I met up with the person in the morning and followed them around all day just shooting and and getting an idea of what they are all about, and one of the things includes them throwing a piece up on the side of a building, which I document. What is my liability in that. Not from the point as they are friend of mine, but from the stance that I am really an outside observer, just documenting what I see.


Let me start by saying, the advice you get here is worth the money you spend.

It's not against the law to photograph something happening in public.

According to //krages.com/phoright.htm:
"Despite misconceptions to the contrary, the following subjects can almost always be photographed lawfully from public places:

accident and fire scenes
children
celebrities
bridges and other infrastructure
residential and commercial buildings
industrial facilities and public utilities
transportation facilities (e.g., airports)
Superfund sites
criminal activities
law enforcement officers"

Notice "criminal activites" is mentioned, so you should be fine.


Yes, as long as you're shooting from public property.


And didn't know about the criminal activity before it happened.
08/21/2007 11:51:16 AM · #23
Originally posted by LoudDog:


And didn't know about the criminal activity before it happened.


And don't help out your friends of many years by telling them if the police or security guards are coming.
08/21/2007 11:51:41 AM · #24
Well lets run a different scenario. I get word that a violent organization will be holding a public rally somewhere. In the past, these rallies have ended in large brawls, resulting in multiple injuries and arrests.

If I go to that rally with the express intent of photographing this group committing crimes, am I in the wrong there?

08/21/2007 11:53:04 AM · #25
Do you honestly not know the answer to that? Or are you just bored and filling the forums with endless amounts of ridiculous bullshit?

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