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Creative Commons and photography rights.

Scot Hacker posts a picture at he took at SXSW of a dude with a Creative Commons logo shaved into the back of his head. Scot asked the guy for permission to take the picture, and the guy said sure, just so long as you publish your photo with a CC license.

It was polite of Scot to comply with the guy’s request (and when I was taking photos for Wired News at ETech I always asked permission of the subjects, again out of politeness), but this is one case where Creative Commons is actually more restrictive than the general law. In fact, you can photograph anyone you want without asking permission, provided they’re in a public place. You can also photograph any building you want, provided you are standing in a public place. Then you own the copyright to your photo. Here’s a handy one-page guide explaining photographers’ rights (PDF).

“Basically, anyone can be photographed without their consent except when they have secluded themselves in places where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy such as dressing rooms, restrooms, medical facilities, and inside their homes.”

There was upheld in a recent case, incidentally. An art photographer was taking random photos of people on the street in NYC. One man got upset to find his photo was on display in a gallery, for sale, and sued the artist, saying he had no right to profit from his likeness. The judge dismissed that suit last month.

1 Comment

  1. Scot Hacker

    but this is one case where Creative Commons is actually more restrictive than the general law.

    I would say that it is not CC itself that is more restrictive, but the guy’s personal request — since he went to the trouble of shaving it into his head, he wanted to use his head as a vehicle to get people out there and using the CC web site, displaying the logo, etc. CC licenses can be pretty much anything you want – this was a special case of a guy making a special request, not a restriction built into CC.

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