Wednesday, October 26, 2005

No Photos

I've been reading articles about prohibitions to taking photographs in public places in the USA but somehow I just didn't think I'd find the same mindset in Mexico. However, this week we went to the Leon airport to pick up a friend. I know that in the USA there are signs posted in the immigration and customs areas of the airports saying that you can't make photographs there. So I've never tried to make photographs in those places in Mexico either but I can't tell you how many times I've taken pictures of family and friends as they came out of customs toward us glad to see us and be in Mexico.

We arrived a few minutes early and I decided to check the camera light meter to see if I should set the camera to 400 or 800 ISO. I pointed the camera in the direction of the closed door from customs area. This is into a space where there are always a few people who are renting cars or checking for tourist information. Almost before I had lowered the camera, a security guard came over and told me, "No photos in the airport." I looked amazed.

"No photos in the airport?" I repeated.

"No" as she stood a little taller and moved a little closer.

"Okay" as I moved away since I didn't want to battle over my camera.

Although there are copyright protected subjects when you read this legal opinion it would seem that you should be able to take pictures in most places. However, I found another blog writing about not being allowed to take photographs of friends in places like Starbucks or outside a movie theatre. I knew it was happening in the USA but Mexico? It just seems so un-Mexican.


Anonymous said...

Hi Billie,
Sorry about your Astros. In the Casino's in Las Vegas you have never been able to take photos. I think it was mostly to protect the privacy of those without their wives or husbands? Perhaps this has extended to taking business trips without your spouse and of course with someone else? I guess like some societies that think you are taking their soul when you take their picture - life again takes another twist - too bad I think.

Brenda said...

Hi, just wondering if you had looked at the last pics. that I uploaded to flickr and if they were any better? even if I did try shotting into the sun. Trying to figure out if it is the computer here or just the camera. Thanks, sorry about the ball game. Brenda

Tommy Williams said...

In the airport, you're probably running into the "terrorists use cameras, so all people with cameras must be terrorists" false syllogism rather than anything that has to do with protecting trade secrets.

Any business can allow or prohibit photography on its premises as it wishes in the US -- it's considered private property.

But it galls me that all buildings built on or after 01-December-1990 are protected by copyright. So even if you're on public property, some overzealous security guards may try to prevent you from taking photos of the building.

However, the copyright on architectural works does not include the right to prevent others from making and distributing photos of the building, if that building is visible from a public place. However, you may have some trouble convincing security guards of that. has a great printable PDF flyer that summarizes the legal rights of photographers. Unfortunately, it hasn't been updated since 2003 and says, for example, that it's almost always the case that taking photos of bridges is legal. Since 11-September-2001, there have been a number of laws enacted (municipal and state) that prohibit photography of bridges.