Legal Q&A: Photographing private property (May 2018)

Q: A local business is not letting our photographer take a photo of a sign on the outside of the building, which says they are closed to do training. Can we insist on taking that photo from their parking lot?

Taylor Smith
By SCPA Attorney Taylor Smith

A: If you are standing on public property (such as the street or sidewalk) then you can insist on taking the photo. If you are standing in the business’ parking lot, you will need permission to access the property to take the photo. Ordinarily it is fine to take a photo on the private property of a business that is open to the public as you (and others) are invitees while the business is open and thus have permission to access the property. In this case, because the business has closed for the day, it is unlikely any member of the public is welcome on their private property so permission of the business must be granted before accessing their property and taking the photo.

Taylor M. Smith IV is a media lawyer who represents the S.C. Press Association and its newspapers. As one of our FOI/Legal Hotline attorneys, he is available to answer your open government, legal and libel questions. Call (803) 750-9561.

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