You have a right to photograph federal buildings, cute puppy dogs and, yes, even cops if you are in a public area.

With the rise of cell phone cameras that capture not only images, but also video, more Americans are exercising their rights and some police aren't too happy about it.

There is a widespread, continuing pattern of law enforcement officers ordering people to stop taking photographs or video in public places, and harassing, detaining and arresting those who fail to comply. That is illegal.

The right to record police is an important check on abuse of power. Some of the most high-profile cases of police misconduct have involved video and audio records.
Know your rights.

  • When in public spaces where you are lawfully present you have the right to photograph anything that is in plain view. That includes pictures of federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police.
  • When you are on private property, the property owner may set rules about the taking of photographs. If you disobey the property owner's rules, they can order you off their property.
  • Police officers may not generally confiscate or demand to view your photographs or video without a warrant.
  • Police may not delete your photographs or video under any circumstances.
  • Police officers may legitimately order citizens to cease activities that are truly interfering with legitimate law enforcement operations. Professional officers, however, realize that such operations are subject to public scrutiny, including by citizens photographing them.

Stand up for your rights, and if the police try to stop you, let us know.