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SXSW Interactive 2013

Can I Record? The Fight Over Photographers' Rights

For the first time most people now carry a camera with them at all times, in their smartphones. This has sparked a battle: more people are recording police encounters and infrastructure such as buildings, bridges, and trains. In response, law enforcement and security are routinely pushing back: ordering people to stop recording in public places, sometimes harassing and arresting those who fail to comply. The ACLU has filed lawsuits over this issue all around the country.

This talk will examine some of the dramatic incidents that have taken place, including a multimedia presentation of video and photos from some of these incidents. It will look at the state of the law: when you clearly have the right to take photographs or video, when you do not, and where the law is not yet clear. Finally, it will demonstrate two new smartphone apps created by the ACLU that make it easier to record police encounters and hold officers accountable for any unprofessional behavior.

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Related Media


  1. What is the “right to record” issue?
  2. What is happening around the country in this area?
  3. What are my rights when it comes to photographing cops and other things?
  4. What are the ACLU’s new apps?
  5. How are the courts ruling on this question?


  • Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, Speech, Privacy & Technology Project, ACLU


Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, Speech, Privacy & Technology Project, ACLU

Meta Information:

  • Tags: photography
  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Solo
  • Track: Government and Civic Engagement
  • Level: Beginning
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