Wednesday, November 30, 2011

DC To Define "Street Photographer" Rules

Source: Rangga Chandra under Creative Commons License
Street photography has become increasingly popular in the fashion and art worlds in recent years.  Even Bill Cunningham New York the award winning documentary on legendary street photographer and New York Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham is being discussed as an Oscar contender.  But could you be arrested for practicing this trade within DC?  According to a article written by Washington Post blogger Mike DeBonis, photographer violations (including spending more than 5 mins at a location) are listed as an arrestable offense in the District.  While this certainly isn't a new law, the article has roused concerns from professional photographers, journalists and First Amendment proponents.  Can anyone with a camera be arrested for spending to much time trying to get the perfect shot? Not quite, Article 31, Chapter 24 §521.1 of the DC Municipal Regulations focuses on individuals or businesses who profit from taking photos of people in public places, and also requires them to obtain a "street photographers" business license.  The law was originally intended to protect tourists from street photographers from soliciting money for the pics they recently snapped.  After receiving inquiries from such groups as the National Press Photographers Association, DC Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan responded that although they have no plans on repealing the law, they do plan on updating the legislation by providing a more concise definition of "street photographer."

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