Ask LH: Do My Cycling Videos Breach Privacy Laws?

Dear LH, I've recently taken up commuting to work on my bicycle and shooting video of each day's journey. If I was post these videos online, what privacy laws might I be breaking? Do I need to blur number plates, people's faces and so on? Thanks, Curious Cycler

Dear CC,

I should -- and will -- preface this by pointing out that I'm not a lawyer and this shouldn't be taken as strict legal advice.

But having got that out of the way, at a broad level there is no specific right to privacy in public places in Australia, so you should, broadly speaking be safe.

Google as an example blurs faces and details largely because this is data that it more or less inadvertently collects while it is doing other tasks relating to Street View.

Google it doesn't have any interest in using that data in provision of its search and advertising activities. What it does have is some public nervousness about surveillance to worry about. As such, it's a PR nightmare with no upside for such a large company, so while it doesn't appear that Google has to blur faces, it's a good PR move for them to do so.

That doesn't mean you're automatically free and clear, though, depending on what you plan to do with that footage and what you cycle past on a daily ride.

This Arts Law page raises a few decent scenarios relating to public performances where copyright might be held in a performance or artwork you cycle past; that could be an issue, although you'd probably have to slow down considerably for your footage to capture a significant enough part of such a work to make it infringing.

Equally, there's the possibility that your handlebars could turn towards private property or into buildings, where you cross the line from public to private spaces. If it's not clear from your video that this is so, you could be inadvertently infringing privacy, at least in theory.

Still, in the main if you're out and about cycling with your camera, your footage should be free from any privacy concerns, just as they are for any photographer or videographer.

Cheers

Lifehacker

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Comments

    Check out http://www.4020.net/
    While targeted at street photographers, it has a relevant discussion on the law of photography in public spaces.

    Various laws apply in different states too. In Melbourne for example, you need a permit to photograph on a train station.

    Equally, there’s the possibility that your handlebars could turn towards private property or into buildings, where you cross the line from public to private spaces.

    Based on what I've read (from Australia-specific links in photography forums), you can take photos/videos of private property as long as it is done from public property and there is no reasonable expectation of privacy. For example, taking a photo of someone's house from the footpath out the front is okay, but using a ladder to scale someone's back fence is not.

    So, the bike cam is only an issue if you're riding inside private property, e.g. a building or car park. I don't think there's much of an issue there because you're probably interested in the public road portion of your journey.

      Absolutely -- what I was trying to discuss there was the possibility that with a camera with sufficient zoom, it might not be clear that you were in fact shooting from the public road. That could reasonably be seen as an invasion of privacy, even if it's only for a fleeting second as you ride past.

    Taken from: http://www.artslaw.com.au/info-sheets/info-sheet/street-photographers-rights/

    There is no restriction on taking photographs of people on private property frompublic property. According to Victoria Park Racing and Recreation Grounds Co Ltd v Taylor (1937) there is no freedom from view, so people who are photographed on their property from a public location have no legal claim against you if what is captured in the photograph can be seen from the street. - See more at: http://www.artslaw.com.au/info-sheets/info-sheet/street-photographers-rights/#sthash.hxfdnFqJ.dpuf

    Things will become very interesting when Google Glass goes on sale.

    Just how will Australians deal with the "Glass Holes".

      I think what will be equally interesting will be how people deal with people who get uppity about 'glassholes'. Methinks there will be a lot of eye rolling going on.

      (Note: I actually would like for every video recording device to have a visible indicator light wired directly into the power source for the camera; google glass, mobile phones, video cameras, webcams, the lot. Particularly in the case of google glass, I think that would ease people's concern a lot because it would be apparent when someone was recording).

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