You Be the Judge

The Case of the Peeping Photographer

Can an artist take pictures of his neighbors and then sell them without permission? You be the judge.

you be the judge
Noma Bar for Reader’s Digest

Through the floor-to-ceiling windows of the building across the street from his, New York City photographer Arne Svenson watched his neighbors going about their daily routines—sipping coffee, reading the newspaper, napping. He saw a woman twirling her hair, illuminated by lamplight, and a dog gazing out the window at the busy street below. Svenson watched these activities with his camera, too, shooting dozens of pictures in 2012, many of which ended up in a gallery as a photo show called, you guessed it, The Neighbors.

The neighbors themselves first learned of their starring roles in Svenson’s pictures after one couple, Martha and Matthew Foster, happened upon a newspaper review of Svenson’s show, which included images of the Fosters and their children, their faces and partially clad bodies easily discernible.

Just weeks later, the Fosters sued Svenson for possession of the photos, arguing that he had violated their civil rights under New York’s Civil Rights Law, which states that a person’s name or portrait cannot 
be used for advertising or trade purposes without written consent.

The photographs from Svenson’s show were on sale in New York City and Los Angeles galleries and on a photography website for as much as $7,500 a picture. The Fosters asked the court to block Svenson from 
displaying and selling the images, asserting that they were “greatly frightened and angered” by the unwanted publicity. They maintained that they were forced to keep their shades drawn during the day.

Svenson insisted he was not a Peeping Tom with a camera. “I am not photographing the residents as identifiable individuals but as representations of humankind,” he told a reporter, arguing that his neighbors’ identities were obscured through photographic effects or framing. “I don’t photograph anything salacious or demeaning. I hope my neighbors can see the beauty in my treatment of [their images].”

Was it legal for Svenson to sell photos of the Fosters and other neighbors without permission? You be the judge.

Next: The Verdict »

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110 thoughts on “The Case of the Peeping Photographer

  1. Well they should not even take pics off there neigjbors it DOES ruin privact!

  2. I think that while he wasn’t required to, he should have obtained permission to use the pictures of anyone involved.

  3. Way I see it, what this artist did was violate the property and personal rights of people in their own homes. What he did was, to me as bad as trespassing and theft. He used his camera to break into people’s homes and stole their images to sell. I know the state I am from does see things my way, but New York state likes to reward the criminal and punish the victim. Oh, and yes I see Svenson very much as a criminal.

  4. I think if someone is performing at a public event then there is an expectation that photos may be taken. However, just going about your daily life there is an expectation of privacy. Yes people can look at me when I’m shopping but taking a picture crosses the line.

  5. That family needs to put up some window coverings! I have all glass in front and in back of my house. I know that people can possibly see in. Whenever I don’t want people to see in, I shut the sheer curtains, or the opaque curtains, if it is at night. If you let people look in, it is your problem.

  6. So this guy gets away with stalking this family, taking pictures of them partially clothed, which includes pictures of their partially clothed children and is able to continue to publicly display and sell these photos, by claiming its art! Does New York not have criminal laws prohibiting stalking, vogeur ism, invasion of privacy and pedophelia?

  7. This photographer should be arrested, he should ask for the people’s permission first.

  8. I think there is more crime to a person taking and posting a picture of an unsuspecting passerby without one’s approval. For the neighbors not to put coverings to their floor to ceiling windows, I think they have a inhibition to exhibitionism. While the thought of peering through such windows can be breathtaking, liberating and a great source of sunlight, these neighbor had to be cognizant of the fact that in this day of identity theft someone is always watching, thus even knowing when they are in their home or away. I would love to see the art of the the photos.

  9. i think he coyld have asked him if could with out them exactly knowing what he was doin. like, ” what would you do if someone took a series of pictures of you and then poste and sold them

  10. I like how even though he didn’t have to, he took his pictures down in the end

  11. W H – Yes it was illegal to do that because you must have permission to take the photo.
    L C – Yes because he is invading peoples privacy and he didnt ask them first.
    M B – No because if the paparazzi doesnt have to ask permission, then why should regular people.
    S B – Yes because it shouldnt be allowed because they may not want their picture taken without their permission.
    S B – I think it is okay to take pictures as long as they dont show their faces and who they are….
    W – Yes because if they are creepers/stalkers they might do something to them.
    M L – Yes because it is not right to take their picture without permission.
    C J – Yes that is invading peoples privacy.
    H C – No because it is interrupting their privacy.
    R B – Yes because he should ask them before even if they blur the picture doesnt mean there isnt no name and you can find famailies somewhere to take picture of.
    A D – Yes because it was putting them in danger because you can still make out who the famalies are even though the faces are blurred.
    L C – N to the O because it is their privacy because they could be taking a shower or something crazy.
    R R – No he should not be able to take pictures of neighbors and he has no permission and he is selling them for mollaa $$$$$
    D J – Yes because they might mad.

  12. In the late sixties I was visiting a cousin-in-law in NYC! He lived in a 36 story apartment bldg and his “sport” was to “peep” thru the un-obstructed windows of the surrounding apartment bldgs with a telescope! This said any “professional” photographer or artist is bound by ethics and good common sense to obtain releases! The papaRATzzi, that are protected by the freedom of the press should also take an ethics pill as should the yellow “journals” that publish same! Then there is the voyeur mentality that purchases said “journals.” Objective press is becoming less & less. I better get down before my soap box collapses present company excepted!

  13. While in your own home you have some right to privacy. If he took the pictures while these people were out in public some place that would be different. I think the ruling should be in favor of the Fosters. Even if faces are obscured, in your own home you should not have to worry about being photographed. It is the same as a peeping tom.

  14. He should of let his neighbors know, he took pictures of them for his job. The verdict was not reasonable, but good thing he took the fosters pictures out from his website. I hope he wont do the mistake again. If he was in a park and taking pictures of random pictures, then it would not be a problem (in my opinion).

  15. My take is that since “their faces and partially clad bodies” were “easily discernible” in the news review, and as the photos “were on sale in New York City and Los Angeles galleries and on a photography website for as much as $7,500 a picture,” that the Fosters’ civil rights were indeed violated and they should not only win the case but receive monetary compensation.

  16. Also I might add the judge should be looking at the business code of ethics to see if there are anything there the photographer is violating instead of is it art. One law that is violated is trespassing. A person can throw a rock through a window of a business or a private home from the street can be charged for trespassing. The same with a camera. There has been some celebrities managed to do this against photographers taking pictures of them and their families from the street, a public place, into the home, which is a private place, of the celebrity and found the photographer guilty of trespassing. So the judge should be looking at business code of ethics along with the idea pictures are art.

  17. This would be a business ethic question. The photographer made monetary gains by selling pictures of people without their consent. Is this good business ethic for the photographer or would it have been better to at least to have their release signatures in order to sell the pictures? Business ethics and the law do intertwine with each other so that a business will be transparent on how they conduct business. It is like a manufacture making batteries and coercing suppliers to sell their batteries only to cut out competition which is not good business ethics and it is also against the law.

  18. I would be totally creeped out by a neighbor taking pictures of me and my family through my window. One’s home is the last bastion of personal privacy, and to be secretly invaded as were the Fosters and their neighbors is unacceptable to me. My person and my image are mine, not some voyeur’s. If I am walking on a public street and someone is taking crowd pictures, certainly I have no case for privacy. But in my own home, with uncombed hair in my jammies going for an early morning glass of water, and worrying that I will be on public display? Absolutely not. If I were in such a compromising situation, I would probably affix one way sheeting on my windows and be careful to open them a small amount top and bottom for ventilation on nice days.
    It is outrageous that the judge found for the peeping tom.

  19. It scares me that there are people out there doing this kind of stuff. It scares me even more to know that there are judges out there condoning it!

  20. No one even knows the “Fosters” and in 5 years, most likely no one will care. In 100 years they, and this story will be long forgotten.

  21. This article condemned the photographer with a biased headline. I do not consider him a peeping tom. I live in a private place for a reason. If I get undressed I don’t do it in front of my windows, even though the only way to photograph me would be from a zoom lens, and they would have to physically trespass on my private property.

  22. I don’t think he needs to ask. If they don’t want people to see them, they should not leave their windows open. It’s life, anyone at any time could be taking pictures.Who walks in front of a window undressed anyway unless they are just that ignorant? Free speech and art. There names are not attached.

  23. Despite what he says, Svenson is indeed “a Peeping Tom with a camera” and what’s worse, he is profiting from it. He claims he obscured his neighbors’ identities, but the article says “…images of the Fosters and their children, their faces and partially clad bodies easily discernible…” Judge Rakower was wrong to excuse this blatant invasion of privacy as “art”, and I wonder if she’d see it the same way if her and her children’s partially clad bodies were unknowingly photographed and put on display for profit. We’re in an age now where our right to privacy is being seriously invaded, from Google Maps and Gmail scanning our email, to other myriad ways we’re tapped by the government and tracked by advertisers…now we’re supposed to accept this, too? As “art”? No way.

    The people (victims) have wall-sized windows with the intention of enjoying the view, not so others can enjoy viewing them (much less photographing and selling their image).. But if they want privacy in a fish bowl, it would be reasonable of them to install mirrored film or some such window treatment that would allow them to see out without being seen. I have no idea how feasible it is to get that done in an apartment building…maybe a meeting with all the residents and management could get it started…

    The point is that nobody should have the right to take unauthorized pictures of anyone, much less in their own dwelling, and even less so for profit. The appellate court should kabosh Judge Rakower’s ruling and order Svenson to pay his victims the profit he made off of them.

  24. When you are home, it’s a place of security and safety – a place where strangers are not allowed to bother you, unless you allow it. No one should be allowed to take photos without your permission, especially when there are children involved and the photos include “partially clad” subjects! Maybe they should hire a photographer to take pictures of him and members of HIS family when they think no one is looking – I bet he wouldn’t like it either.

  25. As an artist, I’m disgusted by this. He needs to take a break from his art and consider what it has turned him into: a stalker. Which really is what he did. To gather enough useable photos for this gallery, he had to have watched and photographed them regularly for at least a week or more. Essentially, he stalked his neighbors and then posted the evidence of his crime.

    If I were the judge, I would have taken that into account. Because all he’s done now is set the precedent that if I call it art, I can stalk my neighbors and post the photos in a gallery. As long as I claim it’s art, I can harass someone as much as I want. Because it’s art and free speech. Be proud of yourself, Judge. You just created a giant loophole for sexual predators everywhere.

  26. Art is for everyone, not everyone wants to be Art!!

    This guy is profiting as a Peeping Tom!!! Disgraceful. Obviously our Judges can’t judge for themselves anymore. He broke the law and is making money off other peoples images without consent.

    I want to have a choice if I want to be part of an Art exhibit or not.

    What happen to Civil Liberties!!!

  27. A person has a right to privacy in their home. Just because they didn’t have their curtains closed didn’t give Svenson the right to take their pictures without their permission. Why isn’t anyone calling it like it is….Svenson is a peeping tom and that is illegal! He should be sued and I sure wouldn’t call this free speech!

  28. While I believe the photographer was lacking in common sense and sensitivity, I despise people who knee jerk sue in retaliation; what is worse are people who look for opportunities to use righteous indignation or “emotional distress” as an income source, seeking any opportunity to obtain money through lawsuits. Settling disputes face to face in a reasonable manner is what adults do. Anything else is boorish, immature, & adolescent.

  29. We no longer can have any expectations of privacy. We cannot expect even common decency from another human being. If the photographer didn’t think there would be a problem then why did he tell the reporter that the Fosters identities were obscured through photographic effects or framing? I am not in the least surprised that a judge ruled in favor of the photographer. However, I was surprised that the judge was female. I know that shouldn’t matter but it did. I am just being truthful.

  30. I understand I wasn’t there, but my first reaction is….no no no. If Svenson had asked before taking the photos, then it would have been ok. A second thought is the children in the photos, it usually takes a parent’s permission for any child to be posted on/in any public medium. We all expect some decorum when it comes to our privacy in our home.

  31. Hell #$%^@ no that’s an invasion of privacy. He knows it too, thats why he removed the Foisters pictures. Very classy of him to do that.

  32. I have one question. In the second paragraph it says their faces are easily discernable. Which would seem to be right since the neighbors recognized them from the review. But in paragraph five, the artist claims the faces were “obscured through photographic effects or framing”. Which is it?

  33. Being a photographer and a neighbor, I think people are the most interesting subjects one can shoot with a camera. I love watching people and photographing them. When I was studying in NYC, I used to stand on the corner and observe people. Just ask Bill Cunningham!

  34. If nothing else, it’s extremely creepy. The photographer is wrong and all photos involving people who did not consent should be removed, and he should be forced to compensate if any photos were sold involving said people.

  35. The judge needs to brush up on the First Amendment. It protects your right to free speech against all levels of government. No one has free speech rights in their employment and there is always the issue of libel or slander against persons or companies.

  36. Had the pictures of the family been nude, would that still be considered and art form and/or free speech?

  37. I think the Judge has a screw loose. It is absolutely inbelievabe that she thinks this is ok. What he did amounts to being a peeping tom and he should have been arrested and the pictures given back to those people whose privacy he violated. Judge Rakower should be ashamed of herself with that ruling!

  38. Rohn Engh: As long as Arnie was not trespassing, he should be free to
    photograph in public. If 75 years ago he was Adolph Hitler or Benito Mussolini’s
    neighbor, he would have performed a great service to humanity, especially Jews.

  39. If someone is just looking through your windows on a consistent basis, is that stalking? Occasionally, looking into someone window as you walk by is one thing but constantly setting up monitoring devices is stalking. Can you imagine an ex. spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend getting away with the ART nonsense?

  40. I’d bet the decision would have been different if the subject had been judges and lawyers. I wonder how fast it would take the police to be involved if a photographer tried this at judges’ apartments? The distance from which you take pictures makes you no less of a peeping Tom. If you leave your curtains open and someone sees something, oops. If they wait to see something (no matter how innocent) , that’s peeping.

  41. If pictures are taken in a public place people have no expectation of privacy, but if someone in on or in their own property be it purchased or a rental they have every expectation of privacy and that their right to privacy would be protected. If one can not expect privacy in their own home where can they live without feeling under the spotlight and how can they every relax. If the law allows this person to legally take these pictures then the models be they non-consenting should receive royalties and full shares in any profits produced by the sale of the photos.

  42. I would be horrified to find that personals photos of me had
    become public. However, I don’t expect privacy if I leave my windows uncovered.
    In my opinion, Martha and Matthew Foster
    allowed their “partially clad” bodies open to the public when they chose not
    to cover their floor-to-ceilings windows. It may
    not be unfair but to expect privacy the Fosters must cover the windows.

  43. I think if Eileen Rakower was photographed without her knowledge. I think her verdict would have been different.

  44. If the man was taking pictures of people in a park which is in a public setting then that could be considered art. But since the man was taking pictures of people in the privacy of their own homes, then no. It is invasion of privacy, there has to be some fine line that is not crossed. He should have been respectful of his neighbors.

  45. If pictures were taken in a public place then that would be a different story. While in your home and yard, you should have a certain level of privacy. A person should not have to be concerned about what they do or how they dress while in their own homes and yards because someone may take their picture.

  46. Outside in a public area, such as Central Park, if you find yourself in someone’s photo or art, so be it. Someone shooting at you from their apartment across the street should be considered a peeping tom for sure. For goodness sakes, when you’re home, people running around in all states of dress/undress. Including their children. Any photo’s of children in any state of undress, printed and sold with out parental authorization should definitely be illegal.

  47. Following the verdict, it sounds like Svenson did everything that the Fosters wanted him to do. So why are they going to Appellate Court? If the Fosters were offended by the unwanted publicity they would receive from the pictures, you would think they would be happy with the outcome. The Fosters would do best to lighten up, be thankful that Svenson understood their concerns and move on. Or maybe they like the publicity.

  48. Depending how “paritally clothed” the kids were he couild get a suit against him for child porn! If I were his nieghbors I’d start taking pics of him and posting them all over and see how he likes it!

  49. Thank you for enlightening me. My visit to New York has been
    cancelled as I have three beautiful daughters, and they are no one’s artwork,
    except for mine, as I created them! If my
    creation is now considered art, by using my creation, he is using my derived
    works to make money, and that is illegal!

  50. As an amateur photographer, I sometimes struggle with photos I take. Granted, I don’t snap shots of people in their homes, but I have taken photos of peoples personal property from the road (country barns, fenceposts, misc. yard fixtures, etc) and I wondered if they would mind. It’s not realistic to go knocking on everyone’s door to ask permission, but I do think about printing the photos and dropping them in their mailboxes with a note of thanks. Then I think – would that just be weird? I do it for the art of it – there are just so many subjects out there that make great shots. But if I were to get a good shot with an actual person in it that could be easily identified from the photo, I’d feel obligated to ask before I did anything with it.

  51. I think it’s a fine line. If they were on the streets an in a public place then I’d say the photos are fine. But he was taking a photo of them in their home so that crossed the line. That said, he probably should have asked them if they minded before publishing and shared the photos with them. I also think the subjects of the photos are overreacting. I get the upset over taking/publishing the photos without their consent, but he willingly took them down without any requirement to do so. Let it go, forgive the guy (I’m sure he’s learned his lesson) and move on. Life is too short to be so upset over this.

  52. Just ask permission let them review and give percentage of sales. All the Fosters would have to do is go on living their life.

  53. I think it is not right to take pictures of your neighbors without their permission. It’s like Facebook or You Tube. The fatc that you can make a video or take pictures easily, doesn’t give you the right to do so. I understand the photographer’s rights, but then, he should pay the neighbors for royalties, if he is not going to take the pictures off his exhibit.

  54. I completely disagree with the judge here. I work with children, and I have to get the parents to sign a release form before publishing any photos in any media. If we don’t have that permission, the faces must be blurred or otherwise obscured so they aren’t recognized. This is done mainly to help protect them from predators. Predators don’t just prey on children. Adults and even pets should have the same rights. I’m not saying that the photographer can’t practice his art, but get permission from your subjects, or make them unrecognizable!

  55. I believe a person who takes photos of partially clad children is called a pedophile he should be arrested

  56. Privacy is up to each of us as individuals. There is no law prohibiting the photographer from using the pictures he took in an art show. However, there should be a law against using them w/o permission.
    So that’s where we are now; needing to enact privacy and permission laws.

  57. Common sense says the judge should put herself in the position of the plaintiff, but once again we are reminded that we live with a legal system rather than a justice system

  58. Judge Rakower was wrong to say there was no New York law prohibiting Svenson’s photographs from being used commercially. As the article points out, New York’s Civil Rights Law clearly states that a person’s “…portrait cannot be used for…trade purposes without written consent.” By taking down the pictures from his website after the verdict in his favor, Svenson was, in effect, saying to the Fosters, “I’m right…but I see your point.”

  59. While I can understand the judge’s interpretation of the law (I don’t, by any means, want to take away the right of “free speech”), I can’t help but feel that the case of “The Neighbors” crosses the line of privacy. If he was snapping pictures of people on the street or in Central Park, that’s one thing…everyone knows they’re at risk of being caught in the background of somebody snapping a picture. But these people are inside their homes, where they go to purposely get away fron the public eye. Open shades or not, in any other case, this guy could be arrested for stalking and invasion of privacy, but because he’s claiming it as “art” he’s exempt? And the fact that he’s making money off of it us worse: Why should Johnson&Johnson pay for models anymore when they can just snap pictures of babies through people’s windows and slap their logo on it?

  60. The judge should have her head examined. The Fosters were in their own home, not out in public, and gave no consent to be photographed, nor were they compensated. The photographer should have been charged as a peeping tom and the photos confiscated.

  61. OK, here’s another example of “getting around the law”. This is a right to privacy case and everyone knows it. There’s the problem–“right” versus the “law on the books”. New York needs to change the law and that’s all there is to it. This photographer used that law to make money and wanted the publicity it would generate to make more money and he knew the “law” wasn’t written to protect them, so he used that. He should have to make restitution, and the judge’s know this but can’t do anything about it because the is no “law” written for it. Another state with no laws to protect. People do need to be more aware, especially in New York. I certainly wouldn’t trust to not find a creep out there taking pictures. This sounds just too publicity seeking from the photographer and he well knew that.

  62. My university class in media law stated that it was public if it could be scene from a public area even if it was on private property. Even a telephoto lens of someone in their living room with drapes open was public. However once a person left the public area (sidewalk, etc.) and entered onto private property then it was trespass, and if the drapes were drawn and the photo had to be taken through a crack in the drapes another infraction could be added for a person had a right to privacy in this situation. Also since the neighbors likeness was hidden, a suit for misappropriation of likeness couldn’t be filed. What the photog did is unethical to me. If it was for editorial that is one thing, but it was not. I wouldn’t want this photog as my neighbor.

  63. As a real estate appraiser, part of my job is to photograph the exterior of comparable sales (comps) I’m using in my report. I’m afraid I would be out of business as would all other appraisers if I were required to knock on doors to receive permission for same.

  64. Legal – maybe, Appropriate – no. Should gotten permission to display and sell – owes an apology.

  65. The Fosters had a right to expect privacy in their own home and Svenson was totally wrong to take the pictures without asking them

  66. When it comes to photos of half clad images of the neighbors; I don’t think the artist should be allowed to exhibit, or sell these photos without the permission and consent of the neighbors.

  67. They were in public view, and the cameraman had the right to take the pictures.
    That is the letter of the law, and enforcable in the courts.
    The spirit of the law is an expectation of a reasonable degree of privacy. It may not be actionable, but it is the dividing line between a good neighbor and a skunk.

  68. As a professional photographer I follow this simple rule. If you are outside your home or in a location the public or passer by can see you, your fair game. In your home or other private property, your deemed safe from intrusion, even if it only a sheet of glass that seperates you from the public view. Photographing a person through their window is invading the home unlless you have received specific permission to do so. You can stop someone from being a Peeping Tom by law. This is a form of that, like wire tap, or bugging a room.

  69. The issue is where do you draw the line between the Constitutional right of free speech and the Constitutional right of privacy. For those of us who were forced to answer similar questions on the bar exam, the answer is “state action”. Only the government is required to respect the privacy of citizens. When a law is enacted to protect privacy (or invade it like the NSA), only then does the “right” of privacy become involved. Likewise, only the government is required to respect our right of free speech. “No law” means absolutely no law that infringes our freedom of expression. In this case, there was no state action involved in taking the pictures or in selling them. That is a purely private enterprise engaged in by a person, not the government. However, if the city or state passed a law that prevented the photographer from taking photographs, that law could be in violation of the first amendment and, therefore, unconstitutional. The judge correctly decided that photography is art that, in this instance, was protected from government intrusion or prohibition. The judge got it right.

  70. We live in a time of a lack of privacy and identity theft. If you venture away from home to the local store, bank, or for a walk in the park, you must be ready to be photographed by security cameras. But in the home, safety, security, and privacy are expected…… and a basic right. Just because the Fosters didn’t close the drapes or pulled the shades doesn’t mean it is an invitation for someone to come in and accost their family electronically. Just like if they fail to lock the front door doesn’t mean they would allow any stranger to walk right into their home uninvited. The photograph should restrict his snapshots to public places and stay out of homes where he’s NOT INVITED.

  71. Invasion of Privacy to a criminal level. First it should be illegal to peep into someone’s private home (which should be a safe haven from the world) without their permission. Than if he wants to “talk” about or describe his feelings about his neighbors, that is freedom of speech. But to photograph without permission is an invasion of privacy, and to show those photos without their permission SHOULD BE A CRIME. When someone makes their money off being famous, it makes a gray area (which I think is still criminal), but for someone that chooses to be a private unknown person it is a total violation and should be criminal. Now to make money off anyone (whether famous or anonymous), without their permission is stealing. unless they have the permission to take the photos, it is invasion of privacy, to make money off someone without their permission is stealing…. to do both of these is a violation at a criminal level.

  72. I am a photojournalist. This may be a legal slippery slope, but I will have to weigh in on the side of the Fosters. When in your home, a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy and this should be honored by the court of law. The photographer, in my professional opinion, was in violation of the Fosters legal right of privacy and should be held accountable.

    1. Privacy sure is slipping – like every email and every phone call being recorded by the government. There is a new center in Utah that is 1.5 million square feet that requires 864,000 gallons of water a day to maintain the facility. Utah is a desert state.

  73. If the photographer had been taking pictures in a public place, lets say a park, I would agree with the judge’s verdict. It would have been *nice* if the photographer had gained their permission, but he would not be required to.

    The fact that the pictures were being taken through the window of the Fosters’ home and violating their expectation of privacy? I can’t help but STRONGLY disagree with this decision.

    I would advise the Fosters to consider having their windows treated with a reflective or darkening material .. which would also probably save them a little on their air conditioning bills during the summer anyway!

    1. you have a good point and good advise, just like in a single dwelling house, if you do not want anyone seeing into your yard, you put up a privacy fence. But in a rented condo or apartment, changes to the building/window it’s self is not always allowed. They do have a right to sun shine, and respect of privacy “in their home” from their neighbors. so if you go to a public place you are part of “the public” and should expect people to see you and what you are doing. To make money off the “public” all attempts should be made to get permission and or share the wealth made off of them. But that is not always possible, so you use the Publicly taken Photo, make your money, and if the subject comes forward after the fact, you compensate them in what ever way is fair. Privately, the photographer knew how to but “choose” not to get permission or share financial gains in advance. when possible, the treated, reflective material is a great idea, and very good advise, but should not absolve the photographer from first getting permission.

  74. I looked at the pictures and I think because he did not include any faces what he did was ok. If the pictures had shown full faces or were in anyway sexual then I would not agree with them being taken or displayed. Unfortunately living in a condo where the world is your window has some negatives.

    1. It’s pretty effed up that it is legal to shoot inside someone’s house. Windows or not it should not be publishable. That said I checked out the pictures and it was a very beautiful and tastefully done series. Artists must take risks, but t would have been better to ask them before displaying them. Legally I do not agree that he should have the right. And if he wanted them displayed he should offer them a commission on each piece sold.

  75. 1. Legally, if one does not have their shades drawn, one can not have any expectation of privacy.
    2. That said, morally, Mr.Svenson should have gotten permission from Mr.and Mrs. Foster.
    3. The judge can only go by the law.
    4. Mr. Svensons subsequent move of removing the pictures from the internet and promising not to take any more or use, sell etc.any of those he still had, could only be matched by one more. That would be to ensure that any of those that may have sold be re purchased by Mr. Svenson and all turned over to the Fosters our be destroyed.
    Beyond that… The Fosters are out for money if they are still not satisfied.

    1. As an amatuer photographer I have always been told the only time you can post or sell pictures of people is when they are in a public place and are not
      identified (unless written permission is given). This seems reasonable and I would never take a picture of somebody on their private property (or in the house through a window) without written permission. This seems to be a very reasonable approach and for more than 50 years I have always abided by it. Sometimes I think we have just thrown the idea of common sense out of the window.

      1. Steven Powell in prison in Washington learned a lesson in a similar circumstance.

  76. Society needs to be protected from people like Svenson. He is over “the line” on two counts. One – he sold photos of half-clad children, and their parents, taken without their knowledge or permission. Two – he claims that these photos are “art.” He seeks to avoid the problems with his behavior by calling this “art.”

  77. I would think the 4th amendment would protect you from illegal search by a-holes like this.He should be stopped and i hope they win their case

  78. As a photgrapher I’d NEVER shoot inside someone’s house without their permission. it may be “legal” but it is not right.

  79. Seems to me, the photographer found a possible way to make a buck. While it is true the family had their shades up, they have a right to let sunshine into their home and not have their privacy intruded upon. I think the judge was wrong and I hope they win the appeal.

  80. The ruling definitely should be overruled. Everyone has a reasonable expectation of privacy. The photographer ignored their rights when he became a peeping Tom and took their pictures and then sold them without their permission. That’s NOT art!!!

    1. I agree. Even taking photos of people on the street and then selling them should be considered an invasion of privacy. If the judge thinks it should be ruled as free speech, the free speech should be carried as far as asking permission to photograph/sell these families photographs. I do think that people who live in fish bowls should consider the risk they are taking for themselves and their family.

  81. As often is the case, it is not a question of can we or could we but should we. With everything we do we are or should be bound by our own ethics and morals. In this instance the photographer did not consider or care about the affect of his actions on those whom he observed and captured for all to see on film.

    1. I agree completely – it’s rude. It’s tough to be surprised that some people wouldn’t like it. But you live in NYC, deep density, one might take pictures of the things they can see with their eyes. I am pleased with the judge’s decision. It makes sense.

  82. The Fosters have a reasonably expectation of privacy in their own home. Taking photos without their permission and selling them for profit should not be legal even if they are considered art. If they had been in a public place and were public figures, that would have been different.

    1. I agree Gayle I would not like some one to take a picture of me and sell it! OH my!

  83. No way. No how. Never. You have no right to take my picture with out my knowledge and put it in the public domain for your own gain.

    1. Yes! This is why I dislike (or stronger) the paparazzi. Everyone should have the right to say “No” if the photographer sells the photo. Even celebrities should have the right to be in public without these *%@(& blocking their way.

      1. they become celebrities by making their business known. They need to get over it.

        1. To a point monika. But the subject of this is the fosters. (Not celebrities) so they have a right to not have that life. And celebrities dont make their personal lives known they make movies and television shows to entertain the masses. Yes they give up a certain amount of personal freedoms. But to have a guy waitin in the bushes for you to steal a piece of your face and soul is just ridiculous. John lennons killer waited in his bushes to shoot him… too bad he wasn’t holding a camera. But these people go to the depths that a serial killer would. Theyre sick and have no sense of humanity.

  84. While it is his pictures, that is going into other people’s business. He should have asked if its ok to take pictures or at least ask if he can use them, I wouldn’t want my neighbor to sell a picture of me or yet, take one without me knowing

    1. Privacy is the ability of someone to hide themselves or information about themselves, to let them show themselves selectively.
      If you live in a home that has floor to ceiling windows then you can have no expectation of privacy when you are in view of those windows because you cannot hide yourself.
      the onus is on you to make sure that your private space is actually a private space if you want to have privacy.
      I believe the Cameraman had every right to take those pictures because the Foisters intended for their private home to have the appearance of being being available to the outside

      1. By this logic we give up our right to privacy by going outside. I don’t buy it.

          1. As a private citizen, on private property, I would. People sue google when their images show up on google maps and they win.

          2. Wikipedia – Google Street View privacy concerns:
            “”Aaron and Christine Boring, a Pittsburgh couple, sued Google for invasion of privacy. Street View made a photo of their home available online, and they claimed that this diminished the value of their house, which they had chosen for its privacy. They lost their case in a Pennsylvania court. “While it is easy to imagine that many whose property appears on Google’s virtual maps resent the privacy implications, it is hard to believe that any – other than the most exquisitely sensitive – would suffer shame or humiliation,” Judge Hay ruled. Since then the decision was reversed in part and on December 1, 2010 Magistrate Judge Bissoon ruled that Google is an intentional trespasser and the company was ordered to pay $1 to the Plaintiffs.””

            the couple were seeking more than $25,000 in compensation and damages.

            I don’t know what kind of scale that can be applied to, but getting four thousandths of one percent is probably not a “win”, or it’s a win and a smiley face written on the check.

            the only other legal suits I can find regarding Google’s Street View is the wiretapping case, which didn’t actually involve pictures

          3. Just to point out that while they live in New York that doesn’t make them animals or prisoners. They are people with lives jobs and families same as me and you. So this rebuttle is just asinine

      2. Pay attention silly thier name was the fosters. But still maybe this “photographer” should get a real life and job because I could take a picture of you an call it art too. The fact of the matter is I am a person if I wish you to not have a picture of me then respect my wishes. Otherwise your just a prick… that’d be like myself stealing a car from your garage. Then when you say I’d like it back… I would answer back this is my prize you cant have it. This man is pirating peoples lives for a personal gain its sickening.

    2. For sure! Free speech can be carried so far as to ask opinion of your invasion of privacy!

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