Friday, April 03, 2009

Chelsea Cops Illegally Cracking Down on Legal Photography?

Upon arriving home tonight, I was very disturbed to see that both Bostonist and Photography is not a Crime had published posts about a man in Boston's "inner ring urban suburb" of Chelsea being coerced by Chelsea PD to delete photographs he took in a public park. But not just any public park--O'Malley park, one of my favorite parks in all of urban Boston.

O'Malley park is great, and the entire city of Chelsea can be very photogenic. I've biked through many times, and was even stopped en route by Boston officers once, who were extremely professional, courteous, and well-trained. They were responding to a call about a "middle eastern male videotaping the powerplant"--when in fact my white ass had taken a photo of a passing tugboat. They were so professional that I didn't mind that they had followed me into Everett, outside their jurisdiction.

But back to Chelsea. O'Malley Park provides great views not only of the Tobin Bridge and much of Downtown Boston, but of the hardworking docks in adjacent Everett. Among the many activities that go on at the docks is the import of highly flammable liquified natural gas (LNG). Since the ships are large enough to see from space, and since the ships are threaded through downtown Boston and then dock in the bull's eye of a metro area with a population of 5 million, it seems to me that taking pictures of the ships--which I have often done--should be the least of anyone's worries. But, as always, anyone with a camera is cast as a would-be terrorist, who would prefer to conspicuously wander public streets with an SLR rather than just look up targets on Google StreetView or Windows Live Bird's Eye View. Makes no sense.

I'm making it my mission to get out on my bike more this spring, and I always have a camera with me. If I look suspicious to you, feel free to say hello and ask me some questions. But if you ask me to destroy my own legally acquired property, that's not going to happen.

Here are a bunch of images I've shot in Chelsea during my tenure in Massachusetts:

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Camera Phone Predator Alert Act

Here is some proposed legislation so ridiculous that you must read about it. Via Carlos Miller's Photography is Not a Crime, I have learned about the Camera Phone Predator Alert Act. If passed, this bill will require that all cell phones sold in the U.S. make an artificial camera sound so that everyone around the cameraphone knows that a picture of something is being taken. The bill, published on the Library of Congress website, "prohibits such a phone from being equipped with a means of disabling or silencing the tone."

The bill further states that:
Congress finds that children and adolescents have been exploited by photographs taken in dressing rooms and public places with the use of a camera phone.

Miller writes, in his post:
The bill makes no mention as to why children would be in a dressing with an adult stranger in the first place, but it would mean the children would hear a clicking sound when photographed by this stranger.

Never mind that cell phone cameras have helped fight crime--just yesterday in Boston, a municipal sanitation crew was snapped apparently taking bribes to illegally haul demolition waste. And never mind that news organizations like CNN have become heavily reliant on "citizen" (i.e. unpaid) journalism. Even though the citizen photographers are not compensated, the quality of news coverage has increased--just take a look at how many non-journalist's (cameraphone) pictures of the US Airways crash were published last month.

This bill is not only a ridiculous and sensationalist maneuver by a congressman whose name I'll not mention, it's an attack on photography. It also reminds me of something I started writing a few years back. It was a long criticism of the cable TV show "To Catch a Predator" (the show is no longer in production, but it has spawned a profitable product line). In that draft, I coined the term "child rape profiteering industry," and I can't help but re-use that phrase this morning. Whether for monetary profit or personal gain, Americans and American companies exploit exploited children on a daily basis. I can't tell what pisses me off more: the blatant attack on First Amendment rights or the sensationalism and exploitation behind this publicity stunt.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Now that I know that all the plane crash victims are alive,

I am annoyed by how many "citizen journalists" are being exploited for their images and videos.


Saturday, August 09, 2008

Cambridge Police: Strong Douchebag Potential After Midnight

Officer in car on right tells me I'm violating "the wiretapping statute" by "videotaping" flashing lights. Officer standing behind me tells me I'm blocking traffic by not standing on the curb and in the already blocked street. "WE'RE MAKING ARRESTS!" Apparently it takes about a dozen douchebags in five crown vics and a wagon to arrest two more douchebags punching each other outside a frat bar. Waste of time, guys. Perhaps all douchebags involved should read up on the First Amendment.

If it's not a secure crime scene and it's in public view, it's fair game, with or without meritless intimidation.

All files I created at this scene, which was clearly under control, were images without audio or video. I normally respect the police, unless they act like douchebags.

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Friday, December 07, 2007

CNN's I-Report: robbing photographers blind.

Now that sharing video and image files is easier than ever before, major news outlets are quick to exploit amateur and budding professional photographers. Scams like CNN's I-Report invite us to send in provocative imagery for potential, unpaid use in for-profit media. This extends beyond the I-Report homepage I've linked. User-submitted photographs often appear accompanying the headline article on, saving the company hundreds (if not thousands) in licensing fees from agencies like AP, AFP, Getty, etc.

The terms of use, which one must agree to before sending anything in, stipulate that
you hereby grant to CNN and its affiliates a non-exclusive, perpetual, worldwide license to edit, telecast, rerun, reproduce, use, syndicate, license, print, sublicense, distribute and otherwise exhibit the materials you submit, or any portion thereof, as incorporated in any of their programming or the promotion thereof, in any manner and in any medium or forum, whether now known or hereafter devised, without payment to you or any third party.

What amazes me is how many people will sign their content away, unaware that it has monetary value. That CNN and other news organizations are replacing top-of-the line content with stuff they're getting via email bothers me. It's certainly not the quality of the images and video. It's the increased profit that comes from unpaid talent.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Dear Kendall area private security guards,

You asked me "what gives you the right to photograph private property" from a public street?

The Bill of Rights.

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