Nowadays, it is pretty easy to whip out your phone and snap a picture of whatever pleases you. Whether you take it up close or from a distance, a picture can truly capture the essence of moments.
All this frantic camera usage compels people to think if it’s secure enough. There are constant debates on privacy rights and when excess camera use violates an individual’s rights.
Apart from photos of individuals, people also dislike taking pictures of their property. Someone taking an image could be creepy, be it a car or a home.
So, can you take pictures of other people’s houses? The answer might surprise you.
Can you take pictures of other people’s houses?
Generally, whether picture-taking violates a subject’s property rights relies on the individual’s reasonable expectation of privacy (REP). For example, if the property is public, the REP is minor.
On the other hand, people can anticipate a sound level of privacy in their houses or other private places. If you are habitual of taking photos, make sure you seek permission from the owner on personal property.
Is it against the law to take a picture of someone’s house?
No, it isn’t illegal to take pictures of someone’s home as long as you snap it from a public place. That is because there is no expectation of privacy in public.
If the exterior of a house is visible from a public place, any individual is free to photograph it. In fact, there is no restriction in taking pictures of the interior spaces, too (if they are visible).
For example, a balcony or backyard is easily visible from the street.
Exceptions to this rule
With that said, there could be some expectations when the legal bindings may follow. These exceptions vary depending on where the photograph was taken and how you used those images.
You could encounter many issues with the commercial photo of a house.
The use of an image for commercial reasons (even for the public) carries a whole new set of regulations. It will follow a civil lawsuit if that individual finds out their house picture is being used for a commercial reason that they never approved.
The most crucial issue is whether you took the photo from private property or beyond its boundaries. If you trespass on the owner’s property, you have already broken the law.
And if you move a step ahead and take its photo, you could be in serious trouble.
Lastly, it is one thing to photograph a house. But using it to blackmail or harass someone is not legalized by any law.
The laws of every state are different. However, photographing someone’s home for annoying may fall under the harassment statute.
Tips for escaping a sticky situation
The photographer in us may compel us to step out of the boundary and take pictures if we see a beautiful house on the street.
This may get us into trouble sometimes. It is essential to armor yourself with adequate information in this regard.
When the property owner interrogates you about taking photos, don’t hesitate to ask questions. Ask them why they stopped you and dictate your rights.
Before doing so, make sure you take this picture from a public space. And there were no illegal motives involved.
Ask why they stopped you and if you could leave. If the owner allows you to go, perhaps the matter is resolved there and then.
If the person doesn’t allow you to leave, ask them about their details. Questions like who their employer is and the legal purpose for stopping you could work in your favor.
If this doesn’t work, ask them to quote the law that allows them to do so.
Threats of terrorism, disturbing public order, and privacy rights are usually baseless. The best way to undermine these threats is to ask plenty of questions.
Can someone sue me for taking a picture of their house?
The only way someone could sue you is to utilize that photo for a commercial purpose. Also, if they could prove you took the picture and intend to use it illegally, there is a chance that a lawsuit will follow.
Who owns a photograph?
Copyrights of a picture are with the photographer. However, it depends on licensing agreements, employment, and whether the photo was commissioned.
Can you take a picture of someone’s house? Does it lead you to trouble? It depends on the circumstances. The answer is usually yes.