Today, I was wandering around Halifax during lunch. Nothing particularly exciting about that – it’s pretty much a daily occurrence.
While out and about, I spotted an amusing sign of which I wanted to take a picture. Again, nothing special – it’s something I do quite a lot.
This particular sign was located in the window of the Halifax Holland & Barrett store, and proclaimed that the store was a “plastic free zone” that proudly used no plastic bags. This time, I wasn’t pulling it up on grammar – instead, it was the factuality of the sign that amused me. You see, in the window alongside the “plastic free zone” sign were plastic bags. Oodles of them. In fact, the vast majority of products in the window were pre-packaged in either plastic bags or plastic pots.
Camera – well, cameraphone – in hand, I snapped the sign. Moving to the front of the window, I prepared to take a shot of the plastic bags.
Then: the lone shop assistant – a girl in her early twenties – ran out and positioned herself in front of me shouting “You can’t take photos – it’s against copyright!”
Let’s review: I’m stood on public property, causing no obstruction, quietly taking a photo of something visible from a public place where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy, for non-commercial use. Clearly, she’s off her rocker.
When I corrected her and continued to take the picture, she went inside and called the security guard on a two-way radio. Quite what she thought he’d do – given I had at no point entered the store – I’m not sure, but it’s a moot point: apparently Halifax’s security guards were “out of town” and unavailable to attend. After waiting for a friend to finish shopping in the store, I walked off to find some lunch.
Tomorrow, I’m going back with a group of people – including an ex-policeman – and we’re all taking photos of Holland & Barrett’s storefront. We’re also taking photos of each other taking photos of Holland & Barrett’s storefront – and if any copyright ‘experts’ fancy telling us that we can’t exercise our rights on public property, it might be time to exercise the cheapo HD camcorder I bought a few months back.
Oh, and I think that the Advertising Standards Authority would be interested in the false claim regarding the plastic bags.
TL;DR: Don’t fuck with a photographer. We’re more than aware of our rights.