Photography … Its Now Illegal. That Could Be A Good Thing

Where there is one crazy law, there is bound to be another.


Which means that if this bill as introduced in Vermont is allowed to pass and reside on the books, chances are other states will soon follow their lead.

In Vermont, Bill H233 was introduced this week that states:

This bill proposes to make it illegal to take a photograph of a person without his or her consent, or to modify a photograph of a person without his or her consent, and to distribute it.


Think about that for a bit.

Its illegal to take a photograph of a person without his or her consent.

That means you can no longer shoot anywhere in the state of Vermont. With smart phones or cameras. Because if you’ve ever snapped an image while you’re out and about, you’ve probably photographed some random person in the background.

No more birthday party photographs of your child at Chuck E Cheese. No more pictures at the zoo.

Or you will be against the law.

And if you take any of those photographs and modify them in Instagram, or with one of the hundreds of apps that exist out there, or Photoshop them even just to brighten it up a bit, again, you’ll be doing something against the law.

Then lets talk about distribution. No Facebook. No Twitter. No making a copy and sending it to Grandma in California. Nope. You’ll be committing a crime, so you best not do it.

In reality, this may be a good thing for us professionals. We’re always careful with our backgrounds, making sure random people aren’t included in the image. And if you work with contracts – which you should – you’ll have a model release in there as well.

You should also have a clause that allows you to share online on your sites, Facebook, etc., which means you have a consent to distribute.

So, if the general population really can’t use their smart phones and cameras legally anymore, maybe that means more business for us.


10 thoughts on “Photography … Its Now Illegal. That Could Be A Good Thing”

  1. For a second there, as I read through the nonsense above, I thought that this site was like “The Onion”, but geared towards photographers.

    Only it’s not, and you’re actually serious.


  2. The only reason I could think of why they have a law like this, is because of all the idiots out there that like to snap pictures of people with their crack or something obscene showing at stores like walmart and then post them for their friends on fb to laugh at. I have always thought people had nerve doing this. Now the funny animal pics are different of course. But those making fun of others and posting pics of them for everyone to see and laugh at, I just don’t think that’s cool. In my opinion, a few bad apples have ruined it for the rest. Can’t think of another reason why they’d have this law.

  3. It would be helpful to point out that H.233 crosses a wide line of case law and first amendment rulings. The Supremes, and every district, have ruled that persons in public places have no expectation of privacy, and may be photographed without their consent. We hace a long-affirmed right to photograph who or what we want, in public.

    The bill is currently in the judiciary committee. My money’s on it dying in committee.

  4. This only make me wonder, what about shooting a wedding or birthday were there are lots of people you have to photograph!!! That can only mean no more business…

  5. Someone up there apparently didn’t think this through. You would start seeing disclaimers on every event ticket. When you drop off your kid at the bday party, “here, please sign this waiver”. What about any sports event, including little league where everyone is taking photos. No more street art. So, I’m sure they would have to put in exemptions for all street cameras, including traffic cameras. What about ATM cameras? The premise of this is ludicrous.

  6. Although this law has put the fear into many photographers, with this law the 1st amendment of the United States has been violated. This law will not hold the test in Supreme Court, which is where Constitutional law is argued.

    You can bet that CNN, and many other news agencies will be fighting to have the law repealed before it is enacted. As a photographer, and a journalist this would prohibit me from reporting on the news as it happens. As I edit images, whether cropping, enhancing or converting from raw to jpeg, in sending to the agency I am distributing through. this would mean that sporting events like the superbowl if ever held there could not be broadcast because it could inadvertently capture someone who did not buy a ticket was volunteering and/or was walking by the building. This law will get shot down and in fact has to.


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