There is no legal act in Polish law that comprehensively cover legal matters related to photography. What’s more, the law provides no answer to some of the most pressing issues that emerge in practice. This leaves a lot of room for interpretation, oftentimes substantially dependent on the facts of a given case. Considering such issues in isolation from the facts of the case is all the more difficult that, in situations involving photographers, the rights and freedoms of photographers are very often in conflict with rights of other persons (such as the right to privacy, property rights, image rights, copyright and others).
In a series of posts which will be published in the near future, lawyers from LSW will attempt to answer the most frequently asked questions regarding permitted photography. We will prepare our answers so they can be read as an analysis of the most common legal dilemmas in photographers’ lives and so that they can be applied to most situations arising in everyday life. One should always bear in mind – as the saying goes – the devil is in the details and ultimately the particular circumstances of a given case may and should be the decisive factor in the legal assessment.
By way of introduction – we may simplify things for a second and assume that, as a rule, photography is permitted. Due to the virtual lack of legal regulations regarding photography, when assessing such situations, we must not disregard custom and applicable rules of social co-existence. In practice, in places whose owners do not tolerate photography we will often find a symbol of crossed-out photo camera.
As far as publishing photos is concerned, it should be assumed that the photographer must, as a rule, obtain consent for the publication of a photo depicting a given person or private items (there is, however, a number of significant exceptions to this rule). Publishing photos of public spaces is in principle permitted (however, this principle should not be accepted uncritically as well).
One should remember this analysis was performed with hobby photographers in mind. Commercial photography and also commercial use of hobby photographs (e.g. selling photos for advertisements) may be and often is governed by slightly different rules.
In the next post we will deal with situations when photographing certain places, persons or things may be prohibited.
We would also like to invite you to use the “Permitted photography” (Polish: “Fotografowanie dozwolone”) application, available on iOS devices, created by The Story and being a part of a social campaign of the same name. The app features answers to 32 legal questions regarding the photography prepared by LSW lawyers.