Photographer's Rights in Chicago? (Stopped by CPD last night) - Chicagoland Sportbikes
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-03-2007, 08:02 AM Thread Starter
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Photographer's Rights in Chicago? (Stopped by CPD last night)

I was out shooting photos late last night along Michigan Avenue. Around 1AM I was standing on the NE corner of Randolph and Michigan, and I had my camera on a tripod pointing towards the S-SW corner of the intersection to take some long exposures of the traffic and buildings. At about 1AM, I was approached by a police officer, who told me it was illegal to take photographs of a 'protected structure', and pointed out the two CTA train entrances on the SW corner of the intersection. He said no photos can be taken of any CTA facility or train.

The officer was polite, as was I in return. He never threatened me or requested the camera/photos; simply asked who I was and what I was doing. He did take my ID and called my name into HQ to 'check me out'. He told me that a civilian saw me taking pictures and called it in to the police. (I joked that the caller must have missed the drunk girl peeing in the park minutes before.) After running my ID, he told me I checked out and to have a good night. I was pretty tired at this point, and decidedto just head home, but I wasn't sure if I was 'allowed' to stay or had to change positions, or what.

Coincidentally, I happened to snap a few photos of a CTA train and station while waiting at the Addison Red Line stop just last Friday after the Cubs game, and there were two Chicago Police officers standing 5 feet from me on the platform. They never said a word to me.

So I've been doing some research this morning in an attempt to see if there actually is a law, and what it might be. I discovered that Metra did have a ban last summer, but it was rescinded soon after due to public response: http://www.trainorders.com/discussio....php?4,1221026

I also found some interesting information regarding Millenium Park: http://chicago.metblogs.com/archives...ollows_1.phtml

But as far as the CTA specifically, here's what I dug up: http://chicagoist.com/2007/06/11/take_a_quick_lo.php

This section of the 'policy' linked to in the article above seems to pertain to my incident:
Quote:
The general public is allowed to take snapshots in public areas. Equipment such as lighting, tripods, cables etc. is not allowed except in instances where commercial and professional photographers enter into contractual agreements with CTA.
Okay, I was certainly in a public place, but was using a tripod. Just to be safe, I think I'll print out that policy, as well as The Photographer's Rights and keep them in my camera bag from now on.

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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-03-2007, 08:08 AM
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I wonder if it is some new anti-terrorism law. By taking photos, you could be doing recon for an attack

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-03-2007, 08:18 AM
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I work for Union Pacific, and I know you are not allowed to photo out trains. Again, anti-terrorism.
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-03-2007, 08:32 AM
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At least he was doing his job.

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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-03-2007, 10:24 AM
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Isn't this America? Tell them to piss off, that's retarded.
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-03-2007, 10:34 AM
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thanks for digging that info up Jeff. I wondered about some of the same things while taking pics downtown

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Isn't this America? Tell them to piss off, that's retarded.
geez, somebody woke up grouchy today. it's just a guy doing his job ensuring public safety. Jeff said it was all handled politely. don't be such a hater
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-03-2007, 10:53 AM Thread Starter
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It seems to me that the fact I was using a tripod genreally lumps me into a 'professional use' category, which means they want their usages fees collected, or want to know why I'm camped out in a particular position for any length of time.

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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-03-2007, 10:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Volkl42 View Post
I wonder if it is some new anti-terrorism law. By taking photos, you could be doing recon for an attack
Ding Ding!

Consider yourself lucky. Before a coworker moved from Chi to Stl, they were taking pictures of our downtown building and surrounding area (near congress and Lasalle) and were taken in off the street (Clark & Congress) by the FBI for 4-6 hours for questioning and constant drilling being asked such ludicrous things like "Do you hate America? have you ever spoken ill or disrespectful about the United States of America?" etc etc. All pictures were deleted off all memory cards (including his newborn daughter) and video tapes confiscated. This was 3 yrs ago. Unbelievable... everyone thought they had nabbed the next Mohammed Attah... and he was a Caucasian redneck.

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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-03-2007, 11:19 AM
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Jeff, It looks like you answered your own questions. Good job on the research.

I have a copy of the Photographers Rights printed and laminated in my big camera bag for just those occasions. But it's often easier to just say sorry and walk away rather then start up a big issue...which I hate walking away, but it sure beats being "detained for questioning".

A couple of the biggest issues you have are:

Copyrighted structures (which you found already)

Photographing from Private Property (which you were not)

Companies can try to enforce anti-photo laws, but if you are on public property, the worst that can be done is you being hassled.

A City may institute a full on Ban or force you to have permits in order to take photos, especially if you show up with lights and tripods. ( Welcome to The Republik of Chicago)

Which brings up the last point. They can bust you for safety issues because you are deploying a tripod in a public area. Even monopods can get you chased away.

Again, your best bet is the Photographers Rights with you and Simply being polite. I also have a school ID on me (fake or expired) and I simply state I'm a student working on a project and most people will back off. This would be bad if my bluff was called, but it typically works, especially in Chicago...nobody really wants to tell someone they can't finish their school project.

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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-03-2007, 11:21 AM
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-03-2007, 11:50 AM
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Props to the cop doing his job in a professional manner. Wish more were like him.
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-03-2007, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by bwa View Post
Props to the cop doing his job in a professional manner. Wish more were like him.


+1


plus the tripod thing is because they dont want normal people clogging up the streets, etc most likely.

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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-03-2007, 12:29 PM
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btw, imma snag photographers rights and print out as well, good to know and good to have.

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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-26-2007, 01:52 PM
 
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I'm wondering how many pictures you took of the girl peeing and when are you going to post them? Its been over a month!
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-26-2007, 02:12 PM
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If it were not for you owning a 1098, I would have neg rep you for being so late on the draw.
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post #16 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-26-2007, 03:50 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davew View Post
I'm wondering how many pictures you took of the girl peeing and when are you going to post them? Its been over a month!
Zero. Trust me, you didn't miss anything.

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