Art and Photography

Canadian law when it comes to photographing...

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  • Jul 21st, 2008 12:52 pm
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[OP]
Jr. Member
Nov 9, 2005
150 posts
9 upvotes
Mississauga

Canadian law when it comes to photographing...

a private place from a public area?


The strangest thing happened today. I stopped on the side of the road to take a few pictures of a group of cows in the field. Less then 3 minutes after I stopped, this lady in a mini van came flying down the road, stopped a few feet from me screening that I was not allow to take pictures of her farm, In fact I was taking pictures of the animals in the other side of the road. She pulled a 360 turn right in front of me, in the process throwing a few rocks at me only to stop behind my bike again to write my down license plate. No signs anywhere telling me that cannot take pictures in the area. What are my rights here? Does anyone know?

sorry for the misspelled title, meant to write photographing
17 replies
Deal Guru
User avatar
Dec 3, 2004
10943 posts
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Markham/Mississauga
Farms are considered private property, as such they have the right to legal action should they wish to pursue it. Its the same as me coming to your house and taking pictures of you inside it. Even if its in plain sight, your subjects are still within the boundaries of said private property.

However, if the animals or persons is outside of their private property on their street, then they are in plain public view and are not protected from privacy laws.

With that said, that's why it is legal for me or you to go into a public park and take photos of random stuff and people.

Keep in mind though, no one has the right to confiscate your camera without a legal warrant. So if this lady demanded to see your photos and delete it on the suspicion you were taking photos of her cows, she has no right to do so as your camera are photos are your own private property. She can take it to the police and they can issue a warrant. Then and only then can she view your photos. But the police would have to have sufficient evidence that you are using photos of her cows for any malicious means.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Nov 9, 2005
150 posts
9 upvotes
Mississauga
thank you very much for taking your time to answer my question.
Good to know. In this case, the cows in question were not in her property, they were in the farm across the street. Live and learn
Deal Guru
User avatar
Mar 1, 2004
12862 posts
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Pickering
Veteq wrote:
Jul 12th, 2008 11:35 am
a private place from a public area?


The strangest thing happened today. I stopped on the side of the road to take a few pictures of a group of cows in the field. Less then 3 minutes after I stopped, this lady in a mini van came flying down the road, stopped a few feet from me screening that I was not allow to take pictures of her farm, In fact I was taking pictures of the animals in the other side of the road. She pulled a 360 turn right in front of me, in the process throwing a few rocks at me only to stop behind my bike again to write my down license plate. No signs anywhere telling me that cannot take pictures in the area. What are my rights here? Does anyone know?

sorry for the misspelled title, meant to write photographing
You should have taken a picture of her.Maybe she's a nutbar and will stalk you later.
Deal Expert
Oct 20, 2001
18709 posts
1220 upvotes
Sauga
CSAgent wrote:
Jul 12th, 2008 12:24 pm
Farms are considered private property, as such they have the right to legal action should they wish to pursue it. Its the same as me coming to your house and taking pictures of you inside it. Even if its in plain sight, your subjects are still within the boundaries of said private property.
But doesn't it matter that he wasn't actually on the farm property?

http://ambientlight.ca/laws.php lists that "prowling at night" is against federal laws...and also "criminal voyeurism", but I wouldn't expect either of those to apply to taking pictures of a farm during the daytime.
Sr. Member
Jul 15, 2003
503 posts
142 upvotes
Hrmmm, my understanding is that if you are standing on public property (most roads) and there is no reasonable expectation of privacy, then you can take a picture of anything that is available to view (cows). As I believe that cows do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy, esp. if they are on a field, it should be ok to take a photo. You could probably have taken a picture of her farm, too, if you were on public property... as long as you don't take a picture of the inside of the farmhouse or something.

You could also mention the incident to the local police and ask their opinion - they might even know who she is...
[OP]
Jr. Member
Nov 9, 2005
150 posts
9 upvotes
Mississauga
Skipper wrote:
Jul 12th, 2008 2:34 pm
Hrmmm, my understanding is that if you are standing on public property (most roads) and there is no reasonable expectation of privacy, then you can take a picture of anything that is available to view (cows). As I believe that cows do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy, esp. if they are on a field, it should be ok to take a photo. You could probably have taken a picture of her farm, too, if you were on public property... as long as you don't take a picture of the inside of the farmhouse or something.

You could also mention the incident to the local police and ask their opinion - they might even know who she is...
That was my understanding of the law but CSAgent seemed to indicate that farms are under a different category when it comes to the law. I was on the shoulder of the road, on the opposite side of her farm. Definitely in a public area. She was very upset, I am sure the cops know about her. Not a normal reaction to the situation.
Sr. Member
Aug 19, 2004
722 posts
15 upvotes
Toronto
I don't believe what CSAgent states is correct and it simply does not make any sense. If photographers were not legally allowed to take pictures of property that was in plain view and had no expectation of privacy, then everyone here would be a criminal.

Based on my definitely limited web search:
http://ambientlight.ca/laws.php

There is a difference between taking pictures of things in plain site that do not have an expectation of privacy and taking pictures say through a window, where you do. That would be voyeurism and plainly illegal.

Taking a picture of a farm or house or yard which is in plain view from a public place is definitely legal, and you would only need permission if you were to use it in a commercial work.
Mark Higgins
Sr. Member
Aug 19, 2004
722 posts
15 upvotes
Toronto
cyder wrote:
Jul 12th, 2008 4:36 pm
what about taking pictures of people? I took a pic of someone before and they were freaked a bit.
Apparently from that link I posted, the only issue would be if you were in Quebec, which has a special human rights code with a statement about individual privacy. The only court case that went through was based on a published work, though.

EDIT: Apparently even though it was based on a Quebec law, it could possibly be used federally. I was reading about the issues against Google street view in Canada. Nothing about images of private property, but images of people and license plates were an issue.
Mark Higgins
Deal Guru
User avatar
Dec 3, 2004
10943 posts
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Markham/Mississauga
DirtyLude wrote:
Jul 12th, 2008 10:11 pm
I don't believe what CSAgent states is correct and it simply does not make any sense. If photographers were not legally allowed to take pictures of property that was in plain view and had no expectation of privacy, then everyone here would be a criminal.

.
Everyone is innocent until proven guilty in Canada.

Anyway, article C-46 of the Canadian Criminal Code from the Department of Justice Canada (http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/C-46/):

This ontario regulation disallows trespassing. You can not take photos on someone else's property unless the owner has permitted you to (if challenged, you must prove they permitted you in court). If you are permitted on the property, you must leave immediately if asked by the owner. You must also obey signs (no entrance, no trespassing, etc).

Without signage, the following should be assumed no-trespass:

garden
field
any other land under cultivation
lawn
orchard
vinyard
anywhere with trees planted that average less than 2 meters in height
anywhere that is built in a way that it implies intention of keeping people off the premises, or keeping animals on the premises (ie: fences) This is in relation to the cows...that the nutbar woman was claiming you were taking photos of.

With that in mind, you can enter any property that provides notice that certain activities are permitted, or implies permission to approach a door (for approaching the door only, of course).

If you are taking photographs in a mall, or some other privately-owned-but-open-to-the-public property, or have private security guards (movie theatres, art gallery stores, museums, electronics store, restaurants, etc.), they can essentially make up any policy or rules they want. There are no law with regards to this, you don't have to do what they say. However, they can simply ask you to leave... if you don't, you are trespassing on their property. They can also ban you from the property, in which case, if you come back, you're trespassing.

There isn't an official law for photographing privately owned animals on non-commercial private property...yet. Until then, keep in mind some people do not like their private property whether it be physical property of property of materials, or of animals to be photographed.
Sr. Member
Jul 15, 2003
503 posts
142 upvotes
Without being a lawyer... i think the keyword is *on* private property. i think you can take as many pictures of private property as you want (given no reasonable exp. of privacy) as long as you are not *on* the property. Im sure people might not like photos of their house or something.. but.. there's a lot we don't like :p Besides... if you couldn't take pictures of stuff on private property then... those nice pics of the TO skyline would kinda be empty...

Cows... farmland... CN Tower... same difference :p
Deal Addict
Aug 15, 2006
2527 posts
91 upvotes
if you actually wernt allowed to take pictures of private property then every picture ever would be illegal - everything is owned by someone.
Sr. Member
Aug 19, 2004
722 posts
15 upvotes
Toronto
Yes, the misunderstanding here is "ON" private property and "OF" private property. The original poster was on the road, which is public property taking pictures of private property which is in plain site. If people were open to litigation based on any picture of someones private property, taking pictures would be severally limited.
Mark Higgins

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