Friday, April 15, 2005

[Photography] legality of publishing restaurant pics on the web

Related to the previous post. Does anyone know about the legalities of taking pictures in a restaurant (is it a public or private place?). Could they possibly sue you if they are not happy that you took pictures and posted them online without their permission?


drbiggles said...

Hey, excellent question. I'll bet they can't do anything after the fact, if you're just taking pictures and not attempting to slander. But they can sure as hell kick your behind out during your photoshoot, that's fer sure.
I had a waitress stop me cold in my tracks at Sam's Log Cabin in Albany for taking pictures inside. She wasn't upset, but wanted to call the owner. I kept my cool, smiled and offered up what I was doing. I handed her two of my Meathenge business cards and waited. Luckily the owner was at home and gave me the grace to continue. Tense few moments, I ain't used to confrontations and junk.



Jennifer said...

I'm glad you brought this up because it is a very good question. I'd love to know the "real" legal answer. In fact I just blogged a bit about it the other day in a recent entry A Whole Lotta 'Moxie'

I'm of the opinion that chefs create art and cooks create food. Therefore I find it difficult to "steal" pictures of a chef's art but I have no problem snapping pictures of a cook's food.

What do others think?

Alice said...

I also had a rather unpleasant experience with taking pictures at La Farine in Berkeley, where I thought I was innocently recording my croissants. I could've taken them to go and taken pictures at home, but I was hungry and wanted to eat them there. I got reprimanded and told rather rudely that they prefer to be asked before taking pictures.

To me, a dining establishment should be proud of their offerings and glad to have their pictures taken - it's not like I'm a paparazzi, hoping to get a shot of Britney in her most private moments. I'm taking pictures of food that's been served to me... No?

Owen said...

This is an interesting one and I suspect I am in the minority here. I won't tak epictures at a restaurant because I wouldn't want to be dining at a restaurant where people are taking pictures of the food - it's bad enough when they take pictures of each other!

At the same time, I acknowledge that it is a great help in deciding if you'd like it to see the food. I think Dr biggles is right when he says they can kick you out - after all they can kick you out anyway. Of course they have to expect that you and anyone you can influence will never be coming back.

Take hypothetical - we all live in LA. We are at a fancy place. We take out our camera and prepare to shoot. Then Brad and Anglina's bodyguard two tables over grabs the camera and smashes it. Although we didn't even know they were there, you can sort of see his point. I guess I'd say it is polite to ask first and if they say no, then respect it.

Finally - I almost never eat out in a way that I would want to do this. We don't have huge budgets and we either eat out for special occasions or for quick and dirty. Special occasions I prefer to remember in my mind. That way I am forced to revist them to keep them fresh. Down and dirty is often very good but not usually photo material for me. For example, at my favorite Pho place I would not want to take any pictures of the soup. I might want to take pictures of the four stockpots full to the brim with bones and simmering water each of which I could comfortable fit inside! (you can see them in the kitchen on the way to the bathroom)

Rachael said...

I guess I put my answer to this in the wrong post, but anyway...I had another thought, which was...

Menus on the other hand, you most defiantly cannot publish without permission, and can be sued for reproducing, if they really want to pursue it.

Anonymous said...

They way I see it, i paid for the food, and as long as I'm not publishing pictures of other diners or disturbing others (I never use a flash) I'm free to shoot.

That said, I'm very fast, and almost secretive about doing it, and have never had a confrontation.

If the food looks like doodoo, I won't bother shooting it anyway, so any owner who doesn't want free press of their tasty looking food isn't very smart.

I imagine restaurants have the right to refuse to let you shoot, but they really should be spending their time refusing to let people use their cell phones instead.


barrett said...

No. They can't sue you. They can kick you out and ask you not to return, but in America the First Amendment is still in effect, as is fair use.

See the tomfoolery around the Cloudgate shiny bean sculpture in Grant Park in Chicago for examples of when an organization has overstepped its bounds.

Culinary Fool said...

I just wanted to add that I agree with Owen and Paul, in that if you choose to shoot it's only good manners to ensure you're not infringing on others' experience.

And those others could be the people at your own table who don't say anything but are quietly gritting their teeth - either because they'd really like to just dig in or they are embarrassed to have you messing around and affecting the experience of the tables around you. Or they could be the people trying to have a quiet celebration at the table next to yours.