The Case of the Peeping Photographer

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

By Alyssa Jung
Also in Reader's Digest Magazine February 2014

you be the judge

Noma Bar for Reader’s Digest

The Verdict:

Nearly three months after the Fosters sued, Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Eileen Rakower ruled that Arne Svenson’s work is art, which is considered free speech and therefore is protected by the First Amendment. “While it may make [the Fosters] cringe to think that their private lives can find their way into an art exhibit, there is no redress under the current laws of New York,” wrote Judge Rakower. The decision stated that Svenson didn’t need his neighbors’ permission to display and sell the photos of them.

Though he was not legally required to do so, Svenson removed photos 
of the Fosters from his website and agreed not to take any new pictures or print, exhibit, or publish any of the Fosters’ photos in the future.

In September 2013, the Fosters filed an appeal with the Appellate Division of the Manhattan Supreme Court. The case is pending.

Was justice served? Give us your opinion in the comments.

Noma Bar for Reader’s Digest

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