The principles of the First Amendment are under constant attack. Of particular concern is the exponential growth of limitations by government and corporations on media access to legitimate news and events. Immediately following the September 11, 2001 attacks public authorities and private security personnel began to restrict what is still a legal act of photographing in public places. This illegal activity continues to grow worse.

The Photographer’s Right
All photographers should download, print, and carry this guide to our rights.

US Department of Homeland Security
Federal Protective Service policy on photographing exterior of Federal facilities
Issued on Aug. 2, 2010. Print and carry with you to present to untrained security officers when they attempt to prohibit your Constitutionally protected right to photograph in public.

Washington Metropolitan Police Department General Order DC MPD GO 304-19
July 19, 2012 policy as result of lawsuit against police department. Please print a copy and keep in your run bag in case some over-zealous cop didn’t get the word or understand that photography is a First Amendment protected activity.

Washington Metropolitan Police Department General Order SPT-204.01
Release of information to the media. On page 9 are specific instructions to not interfere with cameras with these relevant clauses:
“Officers will not physically block or cover the lenses of cameras or video taping equipment.”
“Members (police officers) ... will not assist nor hinder camerapersons at scenes.”
“News media members will be allowed to remain wherever the general public is allowed.”

Of concern is the stipulation that these procedures apply to MPD Pass Holders only. The order should state that this applies to anyone with a camera. To apply for a pass click here.

The Reporter's Committee for Freedom of the Press
A nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free legal help to journalists and news organizations since 1970.

Flickr DC Photo Rights
Photos and stories of incidents of police/security overreach in the Washington area.

Freedom of photography: Police, security often clamp down despite public right
Washington Post article, July 26, 2010

Photography is Not a Crime, It’s a First Amendment Right
Blog by Carlos Miller