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US Laws Regarding Aviation Photography  
User currently offlineTHVGJP From Ukraine, joined Mar 2002, 158 posts, RR: 0
Posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 5767 times:

I have seen debates on this site regarding what the local police can and cannot do in regards to aviation photography at airports. Is it legal or not, power hungry security guards interpreting laws differently etc, etc. I just received my Oct issue of Trains Magazine, Trainwatchers have had the same issues as us Plane Spotters. However they got the ACLU involved and several cases were found in favor of the Train Watchers. The ACLU got the New York Transit System to reverse a ban on photography on or near its assets. Basically its a First Amendment issue. Great article, we can all learn from it lessons on dealing with the authorities who claim it is illegal to photograph planes at the airport. I suggest anybody interested in this topic to read the article.
glen

54 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineJeffM From United States of America, joined May 2005, 3266 posts, RR: 52
Reply 1, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 5764 times:

Quoting THVGJP (Thread starter):
Great article, we can all learn from it lessons on dealing with the authorities who claim it is illegal to photograph planes at the airport.

It makes far more sense to learn who owns the spot you want to take pictures from and get their permission. Most airports and the property for miles around them are owned by either the City and County or some other agency. They make the rules, the police just enforce them.


User currently offlineNewark777 From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 9348 posts, RR: 30
Reply 2, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 5757 times:

Quoting JeffM (Reply 1):
the police just enforce them.

And make up their own sometimes. And don't try arguing with them.

Harry



Why grab a Heine when you can grab a Busch?
User currently offlineJohnJ From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 1657 posts, RR: 2
Reply 3, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 5747 times:

Quoting JeffM (Reply 1):
It makes far more sense to learn who owns the spot you want to take pictures from and get their permission.

There are many fine photography vantage points at airports around the United States that are neither on airport property nor private property. Who do I need to ask to get permission to shoot from those spots?

The ACLU certainly takes on some cases with unpopular appeal, but they did a great job in New York and New Jersey. There was also a high-profile case in Chicago involving railfans getting a major hassle in a Metra train station that resulted in a large story in one of the major Chicago papers, and the police backed off their photography enforcement. More recently, the Union Pacific Railroad began enforcing its own photography ban from Metra stations. That a well-organized effort to fight these bans is effective can be read here:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/c.../chi-060828photoban,1,832743.story


User currently offlineTHVGJP From Ukraine, joined Mar 2002, 158 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 5742 times:

The brunt of the article dealt with a proposed and a enacted rule by the New Jesey Transit and the New York Transit Authority to outlaw all photography on its property and of its property . The ACLU cought wind of this and took them to task and the Supreme Court has recognised that generaly photography is a right of free expression, and as long as the area is open to the public you have a right to photograph whatever you wish, and police cannot confiscate or ask you to delete or destroy your film of digital images. Seeing the ACLU sued the Transit Authoritys which are quasigovernmental agencies and won I dont see how it cant be applied to us guys who shhot from or around airports. Im not condoning going nuts and acting suspicious, of course if your doing things that raise the suspisions of the public you ought to be questioned by the local PD. In the same token the PD shoudnt act like gestapo either and kick you out of a public area (parking lot, garage deck, side of road) if all you are doing is shooting photos and not in any danger to yourself or airport property. The Traiwatchers have engraciated themselfs with the Railroads to become a second set of eyes to watch for the things they are being accuesd of, education of the powers to be went a long way here, hopefully we as Plane Spotters can do the same in the USA.

User currently offlineJeffM From United States of America, joined May 2005, 3266 posts, RR: 52
Reply 5, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 5735 times:

Quoting JohnJ (Reply 3):
There are many fine photography vantage points at airports around the United States that are neither on airport property nor private property.

Do some research. Just because you are outside the fence, does not mean the property is still not owned or controlled by the airport authority. In some cases, they own the property for a couple (2-3) miles outside the fence. It is considered public access, but is still privately owned.


User currently offlineDLKAPA From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 5730 times:

Quoting JeffM (Reply 5):
It is considered public access, but is still privately owned.

Privately owned at Taxpayer expense... Gotta love those "wheat fields" that surround DEN.


User currently offlineJohnJ From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 1657 posts, RR: 2
Reply 7, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 5661 times:

Quoting JeffM (Reply 5):
Do some research. Just because you are outside the fence, does not mean the property is still not owned or controlled by the airport authority. In some cases, they own the property for a couple (2-3) miles outside the fence. It is considered public access, but is still privately owned.

I'm talking about places like public parks that are clearly not connected with the airport in any way. There are stories out there of photographers being hassled at Planeview Park near LaGuardia, at public parks in Winthrop near Boston, and at the park at the north end of Sea-Tac. I was hassled by and told to leave by the Elizabeth, NJ police a couple of years ago while taking pictures on a public sidewalk - across the New Jersey Turnpike from the Newark Airport and nowhere near airport property.

In any event, the ACLU stories involve photographers being denied photography access inside commuter authority rail stations, specifically with New Jersey's NJ Transit and Chicago's Metra system. NJ Transit and Metra are both public corporations, and I don't see much difference in the legality of shooting from commuter rail line property and airport property. In the New Jersey case, the New Jersey Attorney General determined that it was indeed legal for photographers to operate on the property of NJ Transit rail stations and ordered NJ Transit police to stop their activities against photographers.


User currently offlineMikephotos From United States of America, joined Oct 2000, 2923 posts, RR: 54
Reply 8, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 5642 times:

Quoting JeffM (Reply 5):
Do some research. Just because you are outside the fence, does not mean the property is still not owned or controlled by the airport authority. In some cases, they own the property for a couple (2-3) miles outside the fence. It is considered public access, but is still privately owned

Not all airports are like DEN where 30 miles outside the fenceline is still airport property  Wink In some spots at JFK, it switches from PAPD to NYPD in a matter of a few feet. Also, most of the outside shooting location are well out of PAPD stomping grounds. Same with LGA and other major airports around the US. I don't think anyone here thinks two inches outside of the fence is no longer airport property. It's usually (not always) easy to figure out where airport ends and city/town begins. You just have to leave DEN sometime and see what an airport not surrounded by 100 miles of fields look like  Smile

I would think subway systems like NYCTA/MTA are also considered privately owned/public acesss?

Mike


User currently offlineJeffM From United States of America, joined May 2005, 3266 posts, RR: 52
Reply 9, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 5601 times:

Quoting Mikephotos (Reply 8):
You just have to leave DEN sometime and see what an airport not surrounded by 100 miles of fields look like

Gee. What a wonderful suggestion.


User currently offlineDC10Tim From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2005, 1406 posts, RR: 14
Reply 10, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 5564 times:

Jeff, I'm not getting into this whole security argument again, everyone knows my opinions, but how can the Police remove you from private property?

Tim.



Obviously missing something....
User currently offlineJeffM From United States of America, joined May 2005, 3266 posts, RR: 52
Reply 11, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 5534 times:

Quoting DC10Tim (Reply 10):
how can the Police remove you from private property?

...when the owner asks them to.


User currently offlineMongorat From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 165 posts, RR: 13
Reply 12, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 5528 times:

Quoting DC10Tim (Reply 10):
Jeff, I'm not getting into this whole security argument again, everyone knows my opinions, but how can the Police remove you from private property?

Tim...a good question but one without a clear answer. Last Saturday I was at Los Angeles International with Chad Thomas and Matt Wallman. We were shooting photos from a "public" sidewalk adjacent a very busy and "public" highway/road. The three of us had a very uncomfortable "visit" from one of LA's finest motor cops. I won't bore you with details but he explained to us that his "mission" was to patrol the north side of the airport for any suspicious activity. Apparently taking photos a mile down the road at the In & Out park was O.K, as was another "sanctioned" spot called Imperial Hill. But the three of us standing on a public sidewalk was certainly not O.K. We asked the officer specifically why we could not shoot from here. His answers varied from "It's easier to launch a stinger missile from here where less people can see you," to "You guys are too close to this power relay station and that makes me nervous..." Another photographer shooting from this same spot a week or two earlier actually had to delete all the photos from his camera's memory card before being chased away.

So to answer your question I think it's a subjective call on the part of the officer of whatever security person may stop by to see what you are up to.
Regrettably, they can probably fall back on "We don't want you shooting pictures here for this reason or that reason..." And until you or I decide to say, "O.K., arrest me and take me down to the station and charge me with a crime...," we won't know if they as law enforcement can legitimately arrest or remove you from this property.

Quoting JeffM (Reply 5):
Do some research. Just because you are outside the fence, does not mean the property is still not owned or controlled by the airport authority. In some cases, they own the property for a couple (2-3) miles outside the fence. It is considered public access, but is still privately owned.

This could and may be the exact reason...private property as Jeff said.

-Matt L


User currently offlineNIKV69 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 5525 times:

Quoting Mongorat (Reply 12):
The three of us had a very uncomfortable "visit" from one of LA's finest motor cops. I won't bore you with details but he explained to us that his "mission" was to patrol the north side of the airport for any suspicious activity. Apparently taking photos a mile down the road at the In & Out park was O.K, as was another "sanctioned" spot called Imperial Hill. But the three of us standing on a public sidewalk was certainly not O.K. We asked the officer specifically why we could not shoot from here. His answers varied from "It's easier to launch a stinger missile from here where less people can see you," to "You guys are too close to this power relay station and that makes me nervous..." Another photographer shooting from this same spot a week or two earlier actually had to delete all the photos from his camera's memory card before being chased away.

Good to see LAX turning into Nazi Germany. Do you have to show your papers too? What a joke. Good to see that Al Qaida is winning.


User currently offlineFutterman From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 1301 posts, RR: 44
Reply 14, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 5513 times:

Quoting NIKV69 (Reply 13):

Good to see LAX turning into Nazi Germany. Do you have to show your papers too? What a joke. Good to see that Al Qaida is winning.

Doesn't matter, Nick. The view's better from the top of the Radisson anyway.

Oh, wait...that's right... sarcastic 



What the FUTT?
User currently offlineNIKV69 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 5507 times:

Quoting Futterman (Reply 14):
Doesn't matter, Nick. The view's better from the top of the Radisson anyway.

I kind of remember the police being called when you were up there, not when I was but wait you are a very responsible spotter. (stroking myself)


User currently offlineFutterman From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 1301 posts, RR: 44
Reply 16, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 5498 times:

Quoting NIKV69 (Reply 15):
I kind of remember the police being called when you were up there, not when I was but wait you are a very responsible spotter. (stroking myself)

I kind of remember you walking onto the roof.



What the FUTT?
User currently offlinePUnmuth@VIE From Austria, joined Aug 2000, 4163 posts, RR: 54
Reply 17, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 5496 times:

Quoting NIKV69 (Reply 13):
LAX turning into Nazi Germany.

Hardly comparable eh?



-
User currently offlineMaiznblu_757 From United States of America, joined Mar 2002, 5112 posts, RR: 50
Reply 18, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 5483 times:

Quoting Mongorat (Reply 12):

All 3 times I have been out there we were visited. The first two went well. We showed ID's, chit chatted and that was it. This guy was a total arse. From the moment he stopped it was sour. He pulled up, lights flashing, turned off the bike and just shook his head saying no several times. We began talking to him and he didnt like the way WE began the conversation, when in fact it was him with the attitude from the start.



Is it anything that will keep me from returning? No, not at all.

[Edited 2006-09-14 09:03:06]

User currently offlineIcebird757 From United States of America, joined Feb 2001, 662 posts, RR: 2
Reply 19, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 5476 times:

Quoting Futterman (Reply 16):
I kind of remember you walking onto the roof.

Figures someone had to ruin it for us locals. I knew it was only a matter of time. Thanks!!



LGB....where you can watch the grass grow because the traffic is so slow.
User currently offlineNIKV69 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (7 years 11 months 1 week 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 5433 times:

Quoting PUnmuth@VIE (Reply 17):
Hardly comparable eh?

Well when someone has to delete all their pics that were taken from a public place sure sounds like your on your way to total intimidation.

Quoting Icebird757 (Reply 19):
Figures someone had to ruin it for us locals. I knew it was only a matter of time. Thanks!!

Yep it was all my fault the new manager at the Radisson closed the lounge during the day.  sarcastic 

Let us also remember that the lounge was not your personal spotting location (as much as you wanted to think it was) and was closed because the manager sees it as a insurance issue (rightly so) Get off your high horses already.


User currently offlinePUnmuth@VIE From Austria, joined Aug 2000, 4163 posts, RR: 54
Reply 21, posted (7 years 11 months 1 week 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 5385 times:

Having to delete photos (as bad as it is for the one concerned no question) being compared to NAZI Germany is a bit far strecth don't you think?


Quoting NIKV69 (Reply 20):
Get off your high horses already

You could start with doing so  Wink



-
User currently offlineDC10Tim From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2005, 1406 posts, RR: 14
Reply 22, posted (7 years 11 months 1 week 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 5343 times:

Obviously US law differs from English law, so I'm not asking any leading questions. In the past I've had the Police bully me at one spot in particular for being on private land, but as it turns out they had no right to do so. Trespass under English law is a civil offence. The land owners could sue me for damages, but hey I only trampled on their grass, and on a well-trodden path I think they'd have a job on their hands.

Quoting Mongorat (Reply 12):
Apparently taking photos a mile down the road at the In & Out park was O.K, as was another "sanctioned" spot called Imperial Hill. But the three of us standing on a public sidewalk was certainly not O.K.

I don't get this. How can they "get you" for taking photos from a public road?

Quoting Mongorat (Reply 12):
Another photographer shooting from this same spot a week or two earlier actually had to delete all the photos from his camera's memory card before being chased away.

Is this legal? Seriously. It's a pity none of us in here practice in the legal profession because this sounds like bull to me.

Quoting Mongorat (Reply 12):
This could and may be the exact reason...private property as Jeff said.

As I've said though, what can the Police do, other than ask you to leave on behalf of the landowner. Is trespass a criminal offence in the US?

All interesting stuff. At the end of the day, I just feel damned if I'm going to have my hobby affected by a few Islamic crackpots (when I'm causing ZERO harm to anyone) and it annoys me.

Regards,

Tim.



Obviously missing something....
User currently offlineJohnJ From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 1657 posts, RR: 2
Reply 23, posted (7 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 5253 times:

This thread details an excellent example of something that would be worth fighting for as the railfans did:

Now It's SLC PD's Turn: Photos Illegal (by FlightShadow Sep 19 2006 in Civil Aviation)


User currently offlineTHVGJP From Ukraine, joined Mar 2002, 158 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (7 years 11 months 1 week 11 hours ago) and read 5186 times:

It is your right to photograph planes, if it is your desire, this has been determined by the Supreme Court and various courts in the US via the ACLU lawsuits. I have never been hasseled by the police. It depends on the level of interaction with the officer.I have herad of guys being made to delete images etc. In a severe case I would fight, but fight right. We are fighting ignorance and fear with these officials. No officer pounding a beat wants to ignore a possible terrorist scouting out the airport, so if he sees something out of the ordinary he is going to check it out, no problem with that its his job. Problem occurs when they get pushy and use threats and ejection from property, now is the time to fight and attack their greatest weakness, fear and ignorance. I would simply foward copies of all pertinant Supreme Court opinions to the Head of the Airport, Chief of Police and the main solicitor for the airport seeking dialog. As with the railfans education is our greatest weapon in this battle.

25 Jwenting : It is also the police's duty to investigate every single report they get from people about suspicious activity, and some people get nervous if they se
26 Post contains images JeffM : Can you point us to some legitimate links detailing those rulings? Sure, if you have permission to be where you're taking them.
27 NIKV69 : Very well said. This really is spot on as too why these cops try to run us off. Very good advice.
28 Philhyde : I'd say that making up a story is an abuse of power.
29 Engineergreg : Unfortunately photography of any kind is becoming more of a challenge here in the US. I was questioned by security while merely carrying a camera in d
30 Chrisair : Whoever did that is an idiot. Don't show your photos to the cop. Maybe it's just me, and perhaps it's because I haven't done any sort of aviation pho
31 Visityyj : Illegal without a court order (warrant), likewise seizing your camera or film. Of course they may try to detain you while they "try" to get a warrant
32 DC10Tim : But if someone does object to you taking photos from their land, what has it to do with the Police? I agree, but while I'd never be rude to the Polic
33 Wnsocal : NIKV69, YOUR POSTS REALLY ARE GETTING OLD AND YAH THANKS FOR RUINING THE RADDISSON FOR US LAX LOCALS.....WAY TO GO MAN. WE ASKED THAT VISITORS BE RESP
34 Wietse : You sir, fail at coming across as a mature person. Cut the capslock please and send a private message to whoever you have beef with. Saves us a lot o
35 JeffM : LOL... Locals are no different then anyone else. Ditto
36 Newark777 : If they don't want you taking the pictures, they can contact the police and report you for trespassing. Harry
37 Post contains images NIKV69 : This is laughable at best. Please keep in mind sir that the lounge at the top of the Radisson was far from your personal spotting location and the wa
38 DC10Tim : The question I was raising is what in the US can the Police do in such an instance? Tim.
39 JeffM : Arrest you for tresspassing if you don't leave when asked. Come on Tim, is this that hard of a concept?
40 Dacman : WOW!!! It's back to the Raddisson posts again I see. Lets not open the fresh wounds and throw salt on them.....please. NIKV69, As for you, please rese
41 NIKV69 : Do I have to get Dave to post his pic again? The one of the three guys way out on the roof? Seems they were locals I'm told. For the last time nobody
42 Dacman : NIKV69, WOW!!!! WOW!!! You are certainly defensive about this subject and you definately have a thing about "Private Property" land owner are we? None
43 NIKV69 : Not defensive at all, just tired of the smoke screen you and others here are trying to create as far this subject goes. I don't have a thing about pr
44 Visityyj : There is no US equivalent of a Section 44 stop, so the application of any laws is up to the local jurisdiction. And there is absolutely zero consiste
45 Post contains images DC10Tim : I'm just trying to establish whether you can be arrested for trespass alone as it is a civil matter here. I don't have a problem with Section 44, as
46 Newark777 : If you are asked to leave by the landowners, and refuse, they will most likely call the cops. When the cops get involved, they will ask you to leave
47 Domokun : This is a long thread and I am almost ready to leave work (yes, I am bored) so I only got half way through; however, reading many of these replies and
48 Post contains links DB777 : That's illegal as hell and any photog who would do it is a pushover. Has anyone read this article in USA Today from last month? I've printed it, and
49 Domokun : Good article - thanks.
50 Dazed767 : GREAT article Don, I will carry this with me as well. Justin
51 JeffM : Lol... I would love to see the look on the cop's face when you wave an excerp from USA Today in his face. From the article.......... "And yes, you ca
52 DB777 : It depends on the cop. I wouldn't do it if he was yelling and about to lose it like some I've encountered, but you can take it up with his sergeant o
53 Post contains images Visityyj : I doubt they would put you in jail (unless you managed to really p*ss them off). Take you to the station and put on a bit of a show for a few hours p
54 Domokun : He might take you away but you will likely not be charged. Once that happens, it's a good time to file a civil complaint against the officer. Agreed.
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