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Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

Photographer's Rights In Pittsburgh........Again

I have previously written about a run in I had with a private security guard while taking pictures at Gateway Center, a large skyscraper complex located in Downtown Pittsburgh. I thought this was likely just an isolated event, but I had a similar occurance this weekend. These types of events have been reported in many different places in the country, so I don't at all mean to insinuate that this is an issue isolated to the city of Pittsburgh. Anyway, on to the story.

I was out photographing in downtown Pittsburgh last Sunday, just walking about with my camera handheld without a tripod (not that a tripod should really make a difference on a Sunday morning with almost no people around) at PPG Place, another downtown skyscraper complex. I was looking for and taking pictures of reflections in windows, an idea that I had mentioned in my last post (this building has mirrored glass windows). A private security guard for PPG approached me and said that since 9/11 PPG has a rule that no one can take pictures of the building. I left after politely telling him that this was simply wrong and that PPG can't make such a rule.

I was curious to find out if this has happened to others, and, searching the internet as well as doing some reading on the largest Pittsburgh related flickr group, found that it has, in fact, happened frequently to many other people.

I was quite angry about this and had been thinking about how to approach 'fighting it' or at least making my rights clear to the powers that be. In the interim, I found several other resources about this issue and would like to take the opportunity to share them, which I will do at the end of this post.

Unfortunately, after reading them, it turns out that I can't press the issue based on this occurance as I was in the wrong, at least according to the letter of the law. In this instance, I was standing in the open air plaza between the buildings, which is private property, (though there is full public access including shopfronts, outdoor tables for everyone and a public ice skating rink), when the security guard asked me to stop. According to one of the articles I reference at the end of this post, I have every right to take pictures in this situation, however, since it is private property, I can be asked (or forced) to leave if I don't comply with the request not to take photos. However, what I find interesting is that because the locale is public (even though the property is private), I can't be legally compelled to give up the photos that I have taken prior to leaving or stopping photographing.

Equally interesting is that the security guard seemed to me to be approaching even before I stepped into the plaza and was still on the public street. Additionally, he didn't say that I couldn't take pictures while in the plaza, he stated that I was not 'allowed to take pictures of the building', implying from anywhere. In support of what I thought would have happened, here is a post from someone else regarding an occurance at the very same location where they were told that they could not take photographs of the building despite being on a public thoroughfare. There is also interesting discussion in the comments section as to what he did and the results he got while trying to 'right this wrong'.

I am still wondering if there is something more that I could do on a local level to express my anger about this.

Here is the list of references that I found as well as the one I listed in my original post several months back:

Photographers Rights in .pdf format
A nice article from USA Today, Part I and Part II
Another review of photographer's legal rights
An interesting blog entitled PhotoAttorney

Of course, needless to say,.............please do not construe any of the above post as legal advice as I am not an attorney, nor are the authors of many of the references that I site.