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Hungarian Law Says Photogs Must Ask Permission To Take Pictures 149

Posted by timothy
from the ok-mom-stop-running-away dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Those planning a weekend break in Budapest take note. From 15 March anyone taking photographs in Hungary is technically breaking the law if someone wanders into shot, under a new civil code that outlaws taking pictures without the permission of everyone in the photograph. According to the justice ministry, people taking pictures should look out for those 'who are not waving, or who are trying to hide or running out of shot.' Officials say expanding the law on consent to include the taking of photographs, in addition to their publication, merely codifies existing court practice. However, Hungary's photographers call the law vague and obstructive, saying it has left the country of Joseph Pulitzer and photography legend Robert Capa out of step with Europe."
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Hungarian Law Says Photogs Must Ask Permission To Take Pictures

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  • Well I guess I won't be visiting Hungary. I'd hate to go to jail for taking a picture of a landmark with a whole lot of people in the frame.

    I'm sure plenty of Hungarian photographers are outraged they effectively can't take entire genres of photographs, now. These kinds of laws have social and cultural ramifications.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 15, 2014 @02:37AM (#46490383)
      We have a very similar law in Germany, the impact is far less dramatic than the article suggests. Just don't take pictures of people who obviously don't want to be in your photo and you're fine - taking a photo of a large crowd where no person stands out in particular isn't forbidden.
      • by zmooc (33175)

        Your law may not be properly upheld in practice but that does not change the situation of Germany being in the very small club of countries where the art of street photography is effectively illegal or at least very cumbersome.

        http://commons.wikimedia.org/w... [wikimedia.org]

        • by rmstar (114746)

          Your law may not be properly upheld in practice but that does not change the situation of Germany being in the very small club of countries where the art of street photography is effectively illegal or at least very cumbersome.

          Yes, and they keep constantly weeping about all the street photography they miss out. Well, actually, they don't. It seems they like their law like that. For some reason, people assume that street photography, or being able to shoot photos of whoever you want, is a right nobody would

          • by Anonymous Coward

            You don't hear the weeping because restrictions are not as tight as you'd think. If you considered moving to Germany, away from soul-stealing magic picture boxes - you'll be disappointed.

            Taking pictures in public for private use is unrestricted, publishing has enough leeway too, so don't expect to sue the hell out of a photographer after you wander in the frame.

            PS: What's the deal with all the people on /. mistaking "privacy" and "I don't want anyone to even look in my direction for too long without my perm

            • It's just the new 'style' of laws we are enacting around the world. It's another "we don't generally enforce it, but we will when we want to".

              Cop decides you are a troublemaker, and it becomes "lets take a look at your camera, you have permission from all these people in your shot? No?"

              And good luck getting permission to photograph a cop beating a suspect...

          • by zmooc (33175)

            I agree that street photography is not some kind of unalienable right. However, I do NOT agree there's a reasonable expectation of privacy in the public space, not even in Germany. With the law as it currently is (though not as it is currently enforced), photo-journalism in public spaces becomes quite a hassle. If we'd all live by the law, our era would effectively become a rather dark one in history; for example just about any photograph depicting the demolishing of the Berlin Wall would have been illegal.

            • for example just about any photograph depicting the demolishing of the Berlin Wall would have been illegal.

              Given that the German law contains an explicit exemption for pictures of contemporary history, that statement is not true.

            • by ultranova (717540)

              However, I do NOT agree there's a reasonable expectation of privacy in the public space, not even in Germany.

              Of course there is, the expectation is just different than at home. The problem with photos is that they can be used to track your movements after the fact, and as technology improves this is slowly but surely becoming utterly trivial. There is no expectation that you are not seen by other pedestrians but there is the expectation that the NSA can't get a list of all persons who's gaze lingered longe

          • But in Germany there is no cultural problem with photography. I've done a lot of street shooting there. Any restrictions are legal techicalities not of consequence to the average person.

            Now try shooting in a country where there is a cultural aversion to being photographed. As soon as I raised my camera in a beautifully exotic Seoul farmers's market, every person in the area dived for cover. In modern, high-tech parts of the city there was no problem, so this seems to be a back-country phenomenon.

      • Just don't take pictures of people who obviously don't want to be in your photo and you're fine

        Must be a great place if you're a thief.

        • Just don't take pictures of people who obviously don't want to be in your photo and you're fine

          Must be a great place if you're a thief.

          No, because in Germany, while you're forbidden to publish the picture without consent of the person, you're not forbidden to take it, nor to show it to the police.

    • by dejanc (1528235) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @03:03AM (#46490469)
      I don't think you would go to jail for taking a picture of e.g. St. Stephen's Basilica (which would be impossible to take without anyone in the shot) or the Parliament building in Budapest. Firstly, I doubt the punishment would be anything other than a fine. Secondly, I strongly suspect this law has little to do with privacy and tourism and much more to do with e.g. making sure nobody can take pictures of anti-government protests.

      TFA is kind of lacking details and I don't follow Hungarian politics that closely, but my first instinct has to do with Viktor Orban's government - he's known for some controversial laws curbing media freedom and changes to their constitution which got the entire EU worried.

      The main confusion is that consent can be given in many different ways: implicit consent is still a consent and the article mentions one of their government ministers saying you are fine as long as nobody is explicitly asking you not to take a picture.

      Unfortunately, Hungarian is so hard to understand that even with Google Translate I can't follow their newspapers and columns, so we are at the mercy of second-hand journalism and skimpy stuff such as TFA, but indeed this looks like one of the laws enected to be used selectively against well defined targets.

      Meanwhile, don't cancel your Hungarian vacation just yet - it's a lovely country with things to see and do, even without taking a camera :)

      P.S. Personally, I welcome this law. When traveling through Hungary, I can stop paying Hungarian vignette (road tax) and when I drive under highway cameras, I'll just wave my arms in explicit objection to having my picture taken :)
      • by mrbester (200927)

        "implicit consent is still a consent". Yeah, right. So why HSCIC is delaying uploading of the UK population's medical records to care.data?

      • by Patch86 (1465427)

        Unfortunately, Hungarian is so hard to understand that even with Google Translate I can't follow their newspapers and columns, so we are at the mercy of second-hand journalism and skimpy stuff such as TFA, but indeed this looks like one of the laws enected to be used selectively against well defined targets.

        I can suggest:
        http://www.euronews.com/tag/hu... [euronews.com]

        Not a huge quantity of Hungary-specific articles, but the journalism is good and generally low-level enough to pick up on things the international English-language services don't.

    • by dbIII (701233)
      They've just codified what ends up happening if you annoy people by taking their photo just about anywhere else. There's plenty of examples in a lot of place where if it was escalated to the Police then people were asked to delete their photos no matter what the law is.
      If you are especially masochistic take a camera with a telephoto lens to a beach and see how much force is used to apprehend you.
    • Well I guess I won't be visiting Hungary. I'd hate to go to jail for taking a picture of a landmark with a whole lot of people in the frame.

      You could also just not take any pictures while you're visiting, but of course I understand that to you and many other people this seems like a totally crazy if not impossible idea.

  • great law (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    i dont care about "photographers rights" or any b.s. damn i do not want to be in a photo taken by a stranger! i hide my face (try to) when i walk past idiotic tourists and goddamn "photographers". the thing i hate the most is people who take photos/video in protests. yes why don't you put that up on facebook and alert my boss or the fascist gov't while you're at it.

    i wish i lived in hungary. great law. intrusive photography is rude. improving tech has made people rude and idiotic!

    • by theNetImp (190602)

      so don't go outside then. With everyone carrying a camera around the chances of you getting in their photos are so great that you should probably spend your life as a hermit.

    • Protests are innately photogenic, and I've never seen a protest movement that didn't welcome publicity.

  • The idea might seem good until you realize that unless you have an army of thousands you cannot possibly manage to ask everyone in a wide shot for permissions and in wide shots it's hard to recognize anyone anyway... And if you take it literary a picture from inside a restaurant might include a window and people outside, including people in cars driving by... Good luck obtaining permission from them.

    • Stupid if you think this is about people. It's about protecting corporations or powerful people that may be upset by photographs and then invoking this law to make embarrassing pictures either go away or become very expensive.

      Still think it's stupid?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The idea might seem good until you realize that unless you have an army of thousands you cannot possibly manage to ask everyone in a wide shot for permissions and in wide shots it's hard to recognize anyone anyway... And if you take it literary a picture from inside a restaurant might include a window and people outside, including people in cars driving by... Good luck obtaining permission from them.

      So it seems we can expect tons of really great landscape photography to come out of Hungary in the foreseeable future as Hungarian photographers become shy loners who avoid contact with other humans whilst doing their work.

    • by EzInKy (115248)

      So what would work for everyone, for both the people who want to take pictures and for those that don't want their picture taken simply because they were in a public forum? Maybe public "privacy" zones? Seems quite the delimna for me.

  • I hope they get things sorted out before the last weekend in July
    when the Hungarian Grand Prix is held

    The media would have to get release from all the spectators.

    • That might be the case, I've seen conditions that say something like by entering the event you are concenting to be filmed ect. This was for a rock concert in the uk at sheffield arena. This was posted at every entrance into the place. I would imagine it would be part of the terms and conditions of tickets for the Hungarian GP.

      Incidentally a lot of places require you to have public liability cover of several million as a photographer or you will not get access. which kind of makes sense even if most of th

      • That might be the case, I've seen conditions that say something like by entering the event you are concenting to be filmed ect. This was for a rock concert in the uk at sheffield arena.

        The UK has probably the most inconsistent rules for photography of any country.

        You can take pictures in public, unless the activity might be deemed private such as holding hands or eating, or might be disrespectful of a famous or powerful person, or is of a child doing something they might want to be kept private. But even then if someone would rather not have it known, such as walking out of a drug rehab center, then even though it would normally be public and newsworthy it isn't exactly public in this ca

  • Do security/surveillance cameras have exception?

  • Do surveillance cams count?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Standing in front of national monuments / points of interest and not allowing photos unless you pay a fee...
  • by Hans Adler (2446464) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @03:50AM (#46490591)

    Hungary was deprived of an important step in the development of today's Europe: fascism. And they insist on catching up without any shortcuts. Unfortunately I am not joking. As the current government wants Hungary to leave the European Union anyway, they are shamelessly breaking all of its principles. Apparently this is only going to end after the Hungarians have spectacularly lost a war right in the heart of Europe.

    Being homeless is now officially a crime. The ruling party quite openly supports pogroms against gypsies. Hungary is quite open about wanting to annex all Hungarian-speaking regions of neighbouring countries. (Ethnic Hungarians in those countries can already obtain Hungarian passports.) The media is censored to such a degree that when the current law came into effect, lots of journalists had to look for a job immediately as they were left with a choice between creeping up the government's posteriors or facing draconian punishment. Even citizens from other European countries cannot by land in Hungary. Austrian farmers who already own land in Hungary are punished when they cross the border in a tractor to cultivate it. When the Swiss Franc rose a lot, causing problems for enormous numbers of Hungarians (and Hungarian institutions) that idiotically had taken Swiss loans because of the low nominal interest rates, Hungary *unilaterally* decided that they only have to pay back these loans to the amount owed theoretically if the exchange rate had been constant. In other words, the Hungarian government unilaterally partially dispossessed the banks of an EFTA country.

    The new photography law is just another in a series of rubber laws that criminalise almost everything so that they can be applied selectively to members of the opposition and other likely targets.

    • Hungary was deprived of an important step in the development of today's Europe: fascism.

      Hungary had a fascist-led government [wikipedia.org] around World War II just like many other countries.

      The ruling party quite openly supports pogroms against gypsies.

      Can you cite this, please? I would be very surprised to hear this from Fidesz, as it sounds like an exclusively Jobbik thing. Many people outside of Hungary with only a cursory understanding of the country's dour political situation tend to confuse Fidesz and Jobbik, but the latter party does not have much power (yet).

    • by Carewolf (581105)

      This is getting in line with the rest of Europe as it gives the same privacy rights that most European countries have. This is nothing new or spectacular, it is common legal status in many countries and doesn't cause nearly the amount of trouble Anglo-saxon privacy haters think.

    • I was asked for sources on the pogromes against gypsies, and it was questioned that the ruling party was involved. As this was only from memory, here is what I found out with a quick search.

      Apparently, the worst incident so far was the one in Gyöngyöspata, a village with 2500 inhabitants and a Jobbik mayor. Jobbik is fascist party comparable to the Greek party Golden Dawn. It does not seem to have been in any government coalition. However, the incident in Gyöngyöspata was so serious that

  • Hope this induces people ... to get the hell out of my shot and let me take the picture with the background and just my wife in the foreground. Shush you inconsiderate bunch of fellow tourists. Walk that bit faster and show us snapshot takers you care.

    Having said that, the idea is truly bizarre.
    • by jklovanc (1603149)

      I hadn't the slightest objection to his spending his time planning massacres for the bourgeoisie...

      Who would the bourgeoisie want to massacre? Are you sure you didn't mean "massacres of the bourgeoisie"?

      • I hadn't the slightest objection to his spending his time planning massacres for the bourgeoisie...

        Who would the bourgeoisie want to massacre? Are you sure you didn't mean "massacres of the bourgeoisie"?

        Lookup the quote. I copied it verbatim as I wouldn't dare to hazard a guess at improving near perfection.

        • by jklovanc (1603149)

          A quote without attribution is plagiarism,

          • A quote without attribution is plagiarism,

            Indeed. And now you mentioned it, I fixed it.

            But it is/was quite clear from the sheer quality, the verbatim quote by which the author is readily retrievable and the trailing ... that the text never could have been mine. Also I sort of assumed everyone knew Wodehouse. Reading his work always is a cure against any sort of bad mood.

            • by jklovanc (1603149)

              that the text never could have been mine.

              I always assume the best in people. While I don't know Wodehouse myself I feel a bit vindicated as my friend, the linguistics major and avid reader, didn't know his works either.

              • Yet you might have heard of Jeeves as in "Ask Jeeves" or ask.com. I'd recommend to transcend vindication and instead to cut to the chase. Wodehouse's books are readily available and Fry & Laurie (as in Dr. House) feature in a most brilliant TV adaptation of Wodehouse's work. In short: Jovial upper class gentleman with limited intellectual abilities happens to engage the most intelligent and diplomatic valet imaginable. The story always turns intricate but Jeeves always saves the day and Wooster remains
    • If you are talking about one person walking into your shot, I can understand.

      However, in a very busy area, it is unreasonable to expect everyone to stop what they're doing just so you can take a photo.

  • Maybe this is one of those "You commit at least 3 crimes every day without even realizing it" situations that James Duane proposes.

    For most people, most of the time, they will not do anything. But if the authorities decide that you have become inconvenient, then there are numerous instances of you commiting crimes to justify locking you up.
  • by geptrizor (3419851) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @05:45AM (#46490865)

    Don't make the mistake of interpreting this law as one aimed to protect the privacy of individuals. If that was the case I would even argue in favor of it.

    The ruling party - who will likely win the next elections without trouble due to the state capture level corruption, media control, and rigged election system (an impotent opposition doesn't help) - regard Putin's Russia as an example to follow. They also do everything to kiss his ass despite their actions in Crimea, and despite the long and painful Soviet opression of Hungary and the revolution of 1956 crushed by them. And why? Because they want Russia to expand the power plant in the city of Paks, the biggest infrastructure investment in the history of Hungary ever, without even asking for a quote from other companies or reaching a consensus that it's even needed (green energy will likely be much cheaper by the time the plant is finished). Russia will also kindly provide the loan for the project, making us depend on their good will for decades, because seriously, what could go wrong with that?

    Now, what would you think if such a country, with its leader in the pocket of Putin, would enact this law?

    According to the law even private individuals can be punished, not just professionals who realize a profit from the pictures. This is dumb at best in the era of smartphones. Obviously, the law won't be enforced to the letter or mean anything for the majority. Nobody will go after tourists, either. But it WILL be used as a possible weapon to prosecute anyone from public servants caught criticising the power to journalists who stick their noses where they shouldn't.

    Just a shining example from the recent past. I personally agree that there are things you shouldn't even say in anonymous comments and people should have the right to defend themselves against online abuse. But when a prominent member of the ruling party can sue a commenter for a basically harmless comment and win a huge compensation (even though there is a law in place saying public figures must tolerate more criticism due to their roles), you know something's very wrong. This new law fits in the picture just nicely.

    Do come to Hungary as a tourist as it's a lovely place to visit. It's safe too unless you invite girls whom you just met (and who happen to celebrate their birthdays) for drinks. But do come before we silently join the new russian empire. (Sorry for my english, I'm honing my russian instead, it will be very handy soon.)

  • by Walking The Walk (1003312) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @07:02AM (#46491099)
    I guess it's back to old school photograhpy then. 100 years ago, photographs of landmarks didn't have people in then unless they were willing to stand perfectly still for 20 minutes or more. So just get a tripod, set up at your chosen landmark, and open the shutter. None of the people moving around will show up in your picture, and if you want to be in your own photo, just walk in front of the camera and strike a pose that you can hold for a half hour or so.
  • by tlambert (566799) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @08:18AM (#46491529)

    Brilliant!

    I see two things coming out of this:

    (1) Get a bunch of your friends together; stand all around in photogenic places so it's impossible to get a shot without you or one of your friends in it; charge to sign the release

    (2) Be about to do something that will end your political career, like going to see one of your 6 baby mamas or going to meet someone to pick up your bribe; have a large security detail; have them arrive first, and stand all around so it's impossible to get a shot without one of them in the picture; have them refuse to sign the release

    The first should be a wonderful drag on the tourist industry, while the second should be an effective way to prevent people from taking embarrassing pictures.

  • by Patent Lover (779809) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @09:25AM (#46491907)
    Billions of photos taken every day. This kind of law just lets the government selectively prosecute somebody they don't like. I also assume it doesn't apply to surveillance cameras.
  • Now they can arrest people photographing anything the authorities don't want photographed. Welcome to the 21st century Fascist movement.

  • This seems to be what the population of Europe is clamoring for, and Hungary delivers. Populism at its best. Hungary is simply less constrained by a tradition of democracy and liberty than other European nations. But don't worry, France, Germany, and the UK will catch up.

  • As a photographer, I feel this is stifling creativity. In the US, it is my right to photograph to my heart's content as long as I am not trespassing, peeping through windows or committing a crime while doing so. That image is copyrighted, and it is up to me to determine how I use it. If I choose to publish and make a profit other than editorial use, I should have a model release (but in artistic works I do not necessarily need it.) The bizarre fear of cameras should be over with by now. There is so m
  • by phorm (591458)

    Is it acceptable if you blur out the faces etc of those who weren't intended to be in the picture?

  • Hungary is like a rotten tomato amongst European countries. I'm sure the purpose of this law is just another way to take money on tourists who come here. While they making this law you pretty much able to see the whole country on google streetview, including me and my relatives being outside in our garden. When did I gave permission for them to take picture of my house or us? What can I do about it? Nothing. The amount of corruption and hatred is unbelievable in this country. Probably some rich polititian

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