Street Photography and the First Amendment


By Andrew Hudson Published: January 31, 2012 Updated: October 18, 2016

Can you photograph anything in the public view? This is a good question. And now we have a good answer.

>Photography & the First Amendment” is an excellent article recently posted by Bill Kenworthy at the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University. In it, Mr. Kenworthy highlights what forms of street photography are protected under the First Amendment.

One essential requirement, he notes, is that, the photography must be intended for a public audience.

“..one type of photography that is not protected by the First Amendment: private recreational photography that is for one’s own personal use.”
— Bill Kenworthy, First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University, “>Photography & the First Amendment.”

“To achieve First Amendment protection, a plaintiff must show that he possessed: (1) a message to be communicated; and (2) an audience to receive that message, regardless of the medium in which the message is to be expressed.”
— U.S. Supreme Court, Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group (1995)

Additionally, when safety or other concerns are a factor, the police may limit access to the public, including news photographers.

“Even in a public forum the government may impose reasonable restrictions on the time, place, or manner of protected speech, provided the restrictions are justified without reference to the content of the regulated speech, that they are narrowly tailored to serve a significant governmental interest, and that they leave open ample alternative channels for communication of the information.”
— U.S. Supreme Court, Ward v. Rock Against Racism (1989)

Mr. Kenworthy details many examples from rulings by federal appeals courts.

Source: >“Photography & the First Amendment” by Bill Kenworthy at the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University via Carlos Miller at Pixiq.

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