Is this photo illegal?

August 8, 2007
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City-County BuildingShould it be against the law to photograph the City-County Building? Some in Indianapolis law enforcement think so. The IBJ photographer was told today that taking pictures of the building is a violation of federal law. Officers asked to see his pictures of the farmer's market, which had the City-County Building in the background. And it's not the first time police here have hassled a photographer. In another case, a visitor was here for the F-1 race and stopped to photograph an art exhibit outside the City-County Building. A city spokeswoman said a Homeland Security rule bans pictures of federal buildings and that the City-County Building applies since the mayor's office is there. A final note: I pulled this photo from the city's own Web site.
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  • Hmmm...

    Sounds like paranoia, but one never knows. I would think the same law that applies to other property is applicable here. Inside: off limits, Outside: public domain

    I wonder what they're so worried about. I'm sure the building's exterior has been completely documented already. One could construct a fairly complete picture just by scouring the web for a couple of hours.
  • This is an artifact of the post-9/11 world. Except for situations such as commercial photo shoots where a city may require a permit be obtained first, or in the cases of certain military installations and equipment, there is NO legal prohibition against taking a picture of a public or government structure. However, there are a number of Barney Fife wanna-bes that have convinced themselves that there are such laws on the books. However, fortunately the numbers of such uninformed yahoos have been declining in recent years.

    To answer the question posted above... No, it shouldn't be illegal.
  • Does this apply to the whole country, or is this just a law in Indianapolis? There's a few buildings in DC that I have pictures of, does that make me an outlaw? Do I need to turn them over to the authorities? IS MY PHONE TAPPED NOW?!?
  • Somebody needs to reign in those City-County Building protectors. These are the same people who make you take off your belt, judge the belt buckle by size and confiscate some, saying that they're too big and could be used as a weapon. Get a grip.
  • All the Barney Fifes notwithstanding, there's another way to defend yourself in Indianapolis. Just ask the officer if he's been sworn in since the police merger.
  • Better get the City-County Building off Google Earth immediately!!
  • With crime surgining throughout the city, THIS is what our cops are worrying about?!?!
  • It is not illegal to take pictures of any building unless it is a military facility.
  • A link everyone should take time to examine completely:
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/8/3/03736/76330
  • typical impd, any excuse to berate or harass.
  • Who wants to take a photo of that ugly building anyway? :-p
  • Perhaps they should use a cloaking device on it!
  • Word of all this gets out and no business will want to relocate to Indy.
  • They should be happy that someone is wanting to take a picture of that ugly building.
  • God, that law is so dumb. Any terrorist could go onto google earth and find what
    they would need. It's ridiculous
  • How far-reaching is this supposed law? City? State? Federal? How long has it been in effect? Do officials confront people who attempt to take photos of our statehouse, or of the state government center? What about the federal courthouse, or the federal building?

    Normally (Marion Co.'s is one of those exceptions), county courthouses are among the most striking architectural landmarks in a town, and would be obvious subjects -- not targets -- of tourists' cameras.

    Last year, I photographed the Steuben County courthouse in Angola while on a camping trip. No one stopped me from doing so -- and I took photos from various vantage points. It sounds as if I'd be perceived as scoping the place, if I were doing that around the City-County Building.
  • I take pictures in the city as well as Chicago (just a few weeks ago). If this is true, I should be in prison for many years to come. As stated, some is a little paranoid!

    Go figure! -Joseph Lee, Indianapolis
  • I take pictures in the city as well as Chicago (just a few weeks ago). If this is true, I should be in prison for many years to come. As stated, some is a little paranoid!

    Go figure! -Joseph Lee, Indianapolis
    http://www.pbase.com/signature500
  • I think the obvious solution would be to convert the building into a hotel.
  • Here is a website that should clear up the uncertainty of this issue. Frankly, I'm surprised that IBJ floated this balloon of concern. It just seems to be another way to get people riled up for little or no reason. They have to know better than this as to the answer; they are in the business of taking pictures. Goodness!

    http://www.freedomtophotograph.com/index.php?subaction=showfull&id=1096654398&archive=
  • I'm not sure I'd call it a balloon of concern. Police at the City-County Building are enforcing a ban on photos of the building as if it's federal law.
  • I too am surprised this is in an IBJ blog. My understanding is that property lines was a place to discuss real estate, not picture taking.
    I guess BerwickGuy said it right, this is just another way to get people riled up for little or no reason.

    Come on Cory, bring us topics of real estate.
  • From the above link:
    Don't be surprised if they call in your name to see if you are on a watch list. If they do so, they're doing their job.

    Great, so now you probably get added to that watch list.
  • Shouldn't just the notion of something like this get people wriled-up? I couldn't believe the public transportation voluntary searches recently DIDN'T get people wriled-up. Issues like this NEED to be heavily publicized, or nobody will ever know enough about it to actually DO anything about it. Should we just let some select lawmakers qietly work to subvert our rights until we have none left? Seen Star Wars? The parallels are downright scary!
  • I think this is probably bogus. First of all the C-C Building is not a Federal Building and the US Dept. of Homeland Security has no authority over the building or the land it sits on because of a novel thing called Federalism. There might be something that was passed by the the state's DHS or a local legislative or administrative body that does do this. That being said, I know that you cannot take pictures of Federal Buildings without approval, but this policy existed prior to 9/11. But, then again I am not a lawyer yet, so don't rely on this if you are planning some civil disobedience you might land in jail.
  • I was shooting some video of the building I work in that has a great view of downtown and was stopped by homeland security. They made a serious deal out of it. I honestly thought they were going to arrest me. It was awesome. I didn't have my wallet on me and I hadn't told anyone that I was outside shooting. Luckily someone looked out the window and came to save me.

    The officer said and I quote, No one takes pictures of my city without answering to me.

    What a douche.
  • I think we need a photograph the C-C Building Day. How about next Wednesday? Everyone bring their camera to the City Market on farmer's market day and we will really drive these fascist authority police crazy. Does 11 AM work for you? (Besides, this is one of Indianapolis' great modern architecture examples.)
  • Just another example of the U.S. becoming more like the third world. When I was a global wanderer in the 70's and 80's, travellers were harassed and proscribed from photographing airports, public buildings and border crossings. The poorer and less-developed the country, the more one was hassled. Secondly, Islamic terrorists look for high-profile targets. Indiana and Indianapolis are so far down the list as to be virtually invisible to these perpetrators. Any funds appropriated here to counter Islamo-fascist terrorism are completely wasted and amount to no more than fear-mongering and corporate lobbying favors. I'm impatient for American voters to finally wake up and stop letting our freedoms slowly erode. If not, an American dictatorship is right around the corner. (See Roman Republic's slide into Empire for parallels, if you don't think it could happen.)
  • I think the reason IBJ floated this on the Blog is because it is not favorable to business to have a community full of law enforcment officers who are not educated. This is clearly a case of the police not knowing the law.
  • It is a government building, but what would any bomber want with Indianapolis? I would be far more concerned about places like the childrens museum or the motor speedway.
    Measures like this will do nothing, you can go online and find a photo of the city county building just like that, so its not like theres some magical thing that enables people to destroy or attack a building once a photo(that is extremely easy to gain on the internet) is taken of the structure.
    I'v taken pictures of the statehouse, federal building, and federal courthouse without any hassle.
  • Been gone for a few days, and man this is certainly an interesting topic, one i deal with regularly. Just last week I had business in the CC building and my assistant was with me. she usually doesn't travel to the CCBuilding, and she brought along her purse which had a digital camera and her phone, which also had a camera. BUSTED. :)

    Obviously, they stopped her and said she could not enter with the camera, but the phone was OK. I just looked at these people and asked - Why is this necessary? One lady informed me The Judge told us to do this. I asked which Judge (as I know many of them personally) and they could not elaborate. So....you can NOT take a digital camera into the building, but you CAN take in a camera phone? WTF???

    I suppose yYou first have to understand that those nice folks are not making more than prolly $8/hour , have little education, and are just following orders and answering the same 10 stupid questions all day long....but let's get real! This is ridiculous and the story on the KOS blog is really disturbing too.

    Aren't WE, the citizens the boss? This is getting ridiculous./
  • Evidentally they (The Government) isn't aware of Google Earth or Microsoft Virtual Earth. Not only can you zoom in from above, but you can do tilt features which almost makes it 3D like.
  • what happens is, one person does something, so whatever they do, the government tries to put restrictions to keep that event from occuring,
    What moron is going to repeat the same attack?
    0_o people can be so stupid.

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