Via our neighbors up in New York City, some good news for all you DC photographers: The Department of Homeland Security is, once again, being forced to admit that you have the right to take pictures of federal buildings. As part of a settlement brokered by the New York Civil Liberties Union, DHS –and specifically the Federal Protective Service, those guys who run the security for almost every federal office building around the country, including those in DC–has “agreed to provide federal officers written instructions emphasizing the public’s right to photograph and record outside federal courthouses,” the NYCLU says.
The settlement came after photographer Antonio Musumeci was arrested in November 2009 for the “crime” of using a camera outside a federal courthouse in Manhattan. That the law was on his side was never in question, and in the settlement, the NYCLU got the feds to admit “that there are no federal laws or regulations that prohibit photography outside federal courthouses.”
You can’t get far in DC with a camera before running into a security guard who questions your right to take a picture. Over at the DC Photo Rights group on Flickr, we document and track these incidents with some regularity. It’s a good idea to carry a copy of Bert Krages’ Photographer’s Right in your camera bag, and if you’re ever stopped, take note of who is stopping you and what agency they work for.