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Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Photography Banned in Stuyvesant Town?
Suddenly, this is now a hot question being asked on Lux Living's blog and this one. It appears that individuals have been told yesterday and today by Stuyvesant Town security that taking photos of the property is a "no-no." At this point, I haven't heard anything official from the landlord, Tishman Speyer, about this supposed new policy, so until notices are posted, on the grounds and in buildings, this new rule is rather flimsy and just based on security's understanding (ie, misunderstanding) of some directive from the Management Office.
I've done some internet searching on the topic of taking photographs in a public/private area, and the conclusion reached by the writers I've read is that one is certainly allowed to take photos in a public place (of anything and anyone), and even in a private area, where the only "no-no" is being on the grounds if you are trespassing.
As one website states:
"Trespassing is the act of being on property without permission from the owner or lessee. Note that this is about where you are, not what you're doing -- trespassing is legally separate from photography. You can be illegally trespassing and still be legally taking photographs."
My impression is that Tishman Speyer is upset by the photographs of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village that have been appearing on this blog and on Lux Living's blog, and that in an effort to stop more of such photos (which, after all, only show the property as it is) the company is trying to put an intimidation squeeze on those who photograph the property. The fact that a security guard demanded to know of one photographer whether he was a resident hints that the only enforcement possible is to escort a non-resident off the property if he or she is taking a photograph in this private community. (Though many times this is an open community, as witnessed by the various events in which outsiders are encouraged to enter Stuyvesant Town, so even then the law may be vague for a non-resident.) Using the non-resident rule (if it is indeed applicable here), Tishman Speyer hopes to cloudy the matter and imply that residents also are not allowed to photograph the property, which appears to be BULLSHIT at this point in time.
My recommendation for residents is to continue taking photographs as you would normally, for whatever purpose, and if you are confronted by a security guard press the matter. Ask to see his supervisor, remember what is being said and GET NAMES. If you have to go to the Management Office, do so, and remember what is said to you there and take down the name of the person who spoke to you. I will gladly post this information here.
You should also feel free to contact the Town & Village newspaper with your story. Editor Sabina Mollot's e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org, and the phone number to T & V should be 212-777-6611.
One more point: Under NO CIRCUMSTANCE is a security guard allowed to confiscate or destroy your camera or take it away temporarily to erase what you have photographed. This is an illegal act on his part.