Any legal issues regarding photography of a traffic accident?


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sbs99

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I encountered an accident last night (i was not a witness, i ran over to help out a few minutes after it happened). The man had a broken shin ( like Liverpool's Cisse injury...nasty)

Apparently he was jaywalking, and got hit by a fast Mercedes on the speed lane. The ambulance and relevant authorities were late, but i had shots of the scene and the people talking to the accident victim. None of us could do much but to keep talking to the victim to keep him awake, nobody was supposed to touch him, lest injuring him further. Since my first intention was to help, and none can be rendered, my journalistic streak in me got the better of me, i started taking photos discreetly with my handphone camera.

When the paramedics arrive, i was told off by one of them that no photography is allowed. And i blatantly pointing my handphone cam at them.
And one guy in civilian clothing said no photography too, heard he was a police officer, as my friend saw him whip out a warrant card from his wallet.


I checked the forum for more info...but i found only these
Ian's answer

Sehsuan's dilemma

Willyfoo's coverage of lorry run amok


Just a few questions that needs to be answered...so where better than to ask the professionals here. :sweatsm:

Is it against the law to photograph the scene? (i know it's rude if there was a death involved...i won't be taking photos then) Or are the paramedics trying to protect themselves from being 'marked' for arriving at the scene late? (they came bout 30 mins later right after the accident...probably due to heavy traffic)

Is it against the law to post the photos online? In this forum? In a blog? In a website?

What rights do i have?


 

May 6, 2005
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#2
Maybe it is pending investigation and information should not be photographed by non official as this information cannot be disclosed.
 

sbs99

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Ding Shan Ben said:
Maybe it is pending investigation and information should not be photographed by non official as this information cannot be disclosed.
but my opinion is that i was there before any authorities arrived. I wouldn't mind offering the photos as evidence, but they were not shots of the accident in the process of happening. (they didnt ask for it) So i believe it's fair game. Since no help can be rendered directly. If there were no shots, what pending investigations can they speak of if they didn't have the evidence before they arrived?

And i definitely have no intention of using them for commercial or business use....maybe only log it as an event in my blog. Any photos shown online will be in low-resolution and any faces censored.

Will this result in any legal issue?

I consulted 3 friends in the police force, they say it's legal, allowed to show online. Provided it's not for commercial gain. And mosaic the faces to be sure to stay on the safe side.

Just checking opinions of photographers here.
 

May 6, 2005
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#4
I am not sure. I think those people there don't know what intention you have mah. I know you dun have bad intentions, but those guys there dun know. Even if you tell him, how do they trust you? I think they need someone with official company tag , then they can trust loh.

Or they are worried that you will hinder their rescue operation as you are not official reporter, you may not know where to stand . Or you give them the look as if you are not going to move away from the scene. I know you have good intention and will not block the rescue op...
 

sbs99

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#5
Once the guy was taken care off....i was off the scene...didn't wanna hang around any longer, lest they wanna check my camera and erase the images. Anyway they already had one witness there.

Think i will go ahead with the photos online and censor the faces. But i hope more people can come up with answers, might be helpful to others in future.
(laws may change over time...need some update...heh)
 

Del_CtrlnoAlt

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#6
from my point of view... i think unless you really cannot help with the injured, den you may shoot some shots without obstructing the work of the 'officials', but do note that on the other hand, the injured may feel rather humiliated when they are down in an 'unpleasant' sight, yet someone he don't know is taking pictures at him, especially with a mobile phone cam, the least you could do is use a 1Ds Mark II... ;p
 

sbs99

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Del_CtrlnoAlt said:
from my point of view... i think unless you really cannot help with the injured, den you may shoot some shots without obstructing the work of the 'officials', but do note that on the other hand, the injured may feel rather humiliated when they are down in an 'unpleasant' sight, yet someone he don't know is taking pictures at him, especially with a mobile phone cam, the least you could do is use a 1Ds Mark II... ;p

Yup, not obstructing.
The victim seem to be an old 'ah beng'...those kind u see, sit at kopitiam drink beer. If i had a mark II...i wouldnt be near...too indiscreet? haha :bsmilie:
 

V

vince123123

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#8
I doubt there's any problems taking the photographs at the scene. You should have asked the policeman, "Why can't I take photographs?" and ask for his name/rank and ID no. That should make him think twice :) Hence, I doubt that it is against the law to take photographs at the scene.

It would be sensible however, to ensure that your photograph taking doesn't affect the carrying out of his work in any way.

Again, I don't think that the factor of whether personal or commercial use affects the question of liability. Also, if all identifying indications are censored, I'd be hard press to consider what kind of action or who can possibly take action against you.
 

reachme2003

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#9
what if the photographer in question was charged for 'not obeying the lawful instruction/s of a police officer on duty'? what would be the possible defence/s available to him, in the scenario the thread starter was in?.
 

sbs99

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#10
reachme2003 said:
what if the photographer in question was charged for 'not obeying the lawful instruction/s of a police officer on duty'? what would be the possible defence/s available to him, in the scenario the thread starter was in?.

he said no, then i stop shooting. Doesn't mean i start erasing what i have taken in fear. I issa no stupid. Haaa
 

jsbn

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Jul 24, 2002
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#11
Ding Shan Ben said:
Maybe it is pending investigation and information should not be photographed by non official as this information cannot be disclosed.
Hey dude, this is an accident that happened in PUBLIC. NOT some kind of top secret happening that u'd accidentally caught wif ur camera. :rolleyes:
 

SpitFir3

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#13
jsbn said:
Hey dude, this is an accident that happened in PUBLIC. NOT some kind of top secret happening that u'd accidentally caught wif ur camera. :rolleyes:

Thats why. somehow I feel you have the right to snap. Is public area and you choose to point your camera there.
 

goering

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An excerpt from the article:

"Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng has said it is not an offence to take photographs of people in a public place, with or without their knowledge, using a camera-phone. But he said that it is already an offence to use a camera-phone in certain ways, for example, as a hidden camera in a changing room or to take photos up a woman's skirt"

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/96838/1/.html

In view of this, I do believe that the policemen have no right to stop you since there is nothing offensive or sensitive taken. However, there may be some exceptions somewhere in the law that I am not aware of although that article is very clear about your rights
 

jbma

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#15
Firstly know your right. And don't let any policeman plain clothed or otherwise scare you. I would be very interested to know what the charges are going to be. The authorities in good old Singapore use a lot of scare tactics to get you to do what they want. In my opinion you have not created any offence. Does it mean that only media photographers are allowed to take photos of accidents. As mentioned earlier it happened in a public place which you happened to be at. It's not in any building or private property.
 

adamadam

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#16
I don't think there's anything wrong with taking photographs of an accident - though personally I wouldn't...

Another case:
If you found a dead body... would you
a) Take photographs
b) Remove it
c) Report it
 

wainism

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#17
sounds abit like my accident a year ago.

i believe that u have the right to take photos BUT according to my friend who was in the police force during his NS days(ord 2003). he told me that digital images are not allowed as evidence. i dunno how true is that.

OT abit:
actually where can go and read abt our rights in singapore?
 

Del_CtrlnoAlt

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#18
adamadam said:
I don't think there's anything wrong with taking photographs of an accident - though personally I wouldn't...

Another case:
If you found a dead body... would you
a) Take photographs
b) Remove it
c) Report it
hehe....

a) with presence of police or without? either way also being suspect liao...
b) confirm become prime suspect
c) liable to be a suspect... also must spend time la kopi at nearest police station...

i think i would get a macro lens to take the injured area... ;p
 

reachme2003

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#19
reachme2003 said:
what if the photographer in question was charged for 'not obeying the lawful instruction/s of a police officer on duty'? what would be the possible defence/s available to him, in the scenario the thread starter was in?.
my question still not answered. maybe it is technical in a legal sense.
 

yanyewkay

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#20
wainism said:
sounds abit like my accident a year ago.

i believe that u have the right to take photos BUT according to my friend who was in the police force during his NS days(ord 2003). he told me that digital images are not allowed as evidence. i dunno how true is that.

OT abit:
actually where can go and read abt our rights in singapore?
i don't know about singapore. But there are attachments for cameras (canon IIRC) to prove the authencity of the digital photo. Else only flim is admissable in court.

Go read up the Constituition. It's thick but it states your rights and obligations as Singaporean. Be glad we have a writen one. :D

I doubt anyone can give a clear cut answer whether you did was right or wrong. There's just not enough transparency in law enforcement.
 

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