VIDEO – Can security guards delete your photos? – UPDATE

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VIDEO – Can security guards delete your photos? - UPDATE

San Diego (CA) – Pictures capture a moment, important moments like the toothless smiles of our children, the agony of a Superbowl defeat or a political protestor’s last moments of freedom.  Photos can crumble governments and free the oppressed, but everyday pictures are usually fairly mundane – that is until an overzealous security guard walks up and demands that they be erased.

Update #2 April 3rd 2008 – Mr. Holmes has sent us a gracious email and all parties consider everything resolved with no hard feelings at all. 

Update April 3rd 2008 – It appears an executive from the Travel Goods Show (Mr. Rob Holmes)has responded in the comments section below.  While we appreciate his response, he gets several facts wrong – facts that could have found out with a simple Google search or talking with his staff.

Mr. Holmes says , “Unfortunately, Mr.Cheung omitted certain facts from his otherwise entertaining article and video.

First, and contrary to his statement otherwise, Mr. Cheung did not have permission to film inside our Show. Moreover, he actually entered our Show under false pretenses since he clearly did not intend to report on new travel goods products and trends which is what other members of the media who attend our Show do. Apparently, he intended simply to report on the actions of “overzealous” convention center security guards. 

Second, The Travel Goods Show is not open to the public only to members of the trade, the media and certain others whose credentials have been carefully screened to confirm their bona fides for attending our Show.

Third, not only do we post numerous signs stating our “no photography” rule but we also include the same prohibition in the contract signed by our exhibitors and in the materials received by attendees.

Fourth, the rationale for our policy is the need to protect the integrity of the new travel products being exhibited at our show. Having said that, despite our best efforts to enforce our “no photography” rule, given the high level of sophistication in portable cameras and video, we still find that some of our exhibitors products are knocked off within a matter of weeks following the Show.”

Our response – While we appreciate Mr. Holmes responding to our article, he is surprisingly inaccurate about his statements.  Those inaccuracies could have been easily avoided with a simple Google search for our event coverage or by simply talking to his staff at the Travel Show.

1.     We did have permission to film from the staff.  We were led into the show to the press room (in the back of the venue), where we were given a permission slip to sign and we had to carry that around with us during the show.  So we did that.  Several people saw us sign the slip … I’m sure you could ask them.

2.    “he clearly did not intend to report on new travel goods products” – We did two articles (with video) about new travel products.  A simple Google search would have showed you these two stories

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We understand that Google can be an intimidating resource and sometimes very difficult to use, so we’ve found this good cheatsheet on how to use the various search terms.  Click here.

Video footage of a security guard demanding the erasure of photos

At last week’s Travel Goods Show in San Diego, we recroded one security guard telling an attendee to erase several pictures in her camera – oh the joys of having a camcorder with 16X zoom and a shotgun mic.  The above video shows the encounter where the attendee quietly goes through each picture and deletes them.  But did she have to comply with guard?

It seems most photographers are a bit confused about their rights and the powers of security guards and police.  Ask five people on the street about what they would do and you’re likely to get five different answers – everything from “I’ve got a camera. I can take pictures of anything,” all the way to the belief that security guards have godlike powers ad can confiscate your gear. 

Back in 2005 and 2006, Andrew Kantor with the USA Today tackled those issues in two columns where he said the public is often quite confused about their rights.  “What I discovered is that a lot of people have ideas — often very clear ones — of what is legal and what isn’t,” said Kantor.  You can read his initial column here and the follow-up column here.

To the guard’s credit, there was a large sign posted near the entrance of the event which stated, “Show management reserves the right to confiscate camera equipment, disks and film.”  Most people would take it for granted that such a sign gives those guards the right to perform those actions, but that simply isn’t true, according to noted photography rights attorney Bert Krages II.

Krages has published a one-page guide to photographer’s rights that can be freely downloaded on his website.  In the guide, he says that private citizens and security guards often do not completely understand photographer’s rights and they cause most of the confrontations against hapless picture snappers.  Furthermore, he says that guards cannot confiscate or delete your pictures.

“Absence of court order, private parties have no right to confiscate your film,” Krages says.

Of course the guards can always ask that you delete the pics, but a photographer can just refuse (thereby risking being ejected) or walk away.  But at the end of the day, is it worth the hassle of getting kicked out of a trade show for a few pictures?  For many, like this young lady in our video, they believe the benefits of staying at the venue outweigh any confrontation with security.  For others, keeping the pictures, no matter how mundane, is a matter of principle.

Oh and in case you were wondering, we did have permission to film inside the show.