Miami-Dade Metrorail Illegally Bans Photographers

Trying (ostentatiously, to make a point) to photograph the Miami-Dade MetroRail Stretch Ledford and Carlos Miller encounter some law on the ground, which happens to bear no relation to the law on the books.

So far the score is Uniforms 1, Photographers 0.

And that's why we have courts, dear Miami-Dade Metrorail….

Congratulations to Professor Sam Terilli of the School of Communications for first inspiring and empowering his student to undertake this project, and then for supporting him.

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11 Responses to Miami-Dade Metrorail Illegally Bans Photographers

  1. Joe1 says:

    Some employee on DC’s subway tried to tell me to two or three years ago that I might have trouble on the system because I was carrying my camera that day. I told him no, got his name, called the metro assistant Chief of Police when I got to the office, and asked the assistant chief to re-affirm to me the current metro policy. The assistant chief told me that cameras are ok, so I asked the assistant chief to re-educate his employees. I don’t know whether that happened, but there are tourists and others taking pictures everyday on the DC Metro. Two months ago, there was a trash fire on the westbound red line tracks at metro center. The pictures of the fire were posted on a blog before I arrived at my office.

  2. casualreader says:

    I don’t think they’ve read the law on the books correctly. It reads.

    “Commercial photography or recording. No person, unless authorized in writing by MDTA or the County Manager when appropriate under Section 2-11.14 of this Code, shall take still, motion, or sound motion pictures or sound records or recordings of voices or otherwise for commercial, training or educational purposes”

    it says no filming for “commercial, training, OR educational purposes…”

  3. michael says:

    And that wouldn’t be a First Amendment violation because…?

  4. casualreader says:

    well, that’s entirely true.

  5. Patrick (G) says:

    Am I reading the clause incorrectly when I read it as saying that they want a cut/payment for any photography that might be revenue-generating… A school project wouldn’t run afoul, a documentary intended for public distribution might.

  6. anon says:

    Purely playing devil’s advocate with tongue firmly planted in cheek, (practicing for my results oriented, umpiring Republican Supreme Court nomination where I only call balls and strikes so that the team I want to win wins) the 1st amendment does not guarantee the right to record images only the right to publish them. Now to the extent one implies the other, some scrutiny may be in order, but wide latitude should be given. And as long as people pay somewhere in the US for education than education is commercial in nature even if the particular individual’s here were not enrolled and paying tuition (which they are so we don’t even need this argument).

  7. michael says:

    Actually, there is a long string of court decisions that find in the First Amendment the right to acquire information. It may not apply fully to commercial uses, but does apply to newsgathering and scholarly uses. To show you just how deeply this is accepted, consider that the controversial issue isn’t whether the right to speak implies the right to read (photograph, gather, whatever), but rather whether the right to speak anonymously (itself an implied right) implies the right to read anonymously (a double implied right).

    Note also that it is well-established that ‘commercial’ use would be for something like advertising or other direct profit-related activity, but would not include collection for possible publication in the news or features section of a newspaper, even if run by a for-profit corporation (if the opposite were the rule, the First Amendment wouldn’t mean much in a capitalist society, would it?) or by or in connection with a tuition-collecting (in this case non-profit) university.

    So this isn’t even FIFA-quality umpiring, I’m afraid.

  8. Joseph Celestine says:

    Now that we have established the First Amendment. Let us move on to the more pressing discussion. Miami-Dade County ordinance 30-B does not allow anyone to video record, take pictures, etc. So, if a security guard asks you to stop taking pictures. Don’t be a dumbass, just stop. Otherwise, when your dumb ass lands in jail, don’t bitch and complain when you don’t have a case that states you had a First Amendment right, especially where a county ordinance clearly states so. First Amendment Right does not give you the right to infringe upon another’s rights. Freedom of speech is not freedom of “you can do or say whatever you want”. However, were it a public street, than you have a right to record or take pictures, only because now, there is no conflict with any ordinances or statutes.

    • But here’s the problem. If the ordinance is in fact unconstitutional, it’s invalid. That there isn’t (yet) a case on point is not exactly dispositive. After all, is there a case saying that the ordinance *is* valid? The fact that the ordinance is clear can cut either way – it may, for example, make it more clear that it is in fact unconstitutional.

      I haven’t researched this, but I don’t see why county-owned land around a rail station that is open to the public should be different from a sidewalk. Ordinance or not.

  9. Joseph Celestine says:

    As I would like to point out further. From a direct approach to this matter. If a guard confronts you, and asks you to stop filming. It is at the guards discretion whether or not he feels you are filming or taking pictures for commercial, training or education. Also please take notice it also says (exception of news coverage). So if asked to leave, guess what! it doesn’t matter if you feel you have a right. If a guard asks you to leave, and you remain on county property. Well, let’s see? Hmm. Trespassing, along with a whole bunch of infractions of ordinances etc. So be brave, go take some pictures…

    • Actually, no, it’s almost certainly not up to the guard’s discretion, that would make a nullity of the First Amendment.

      You are, however, correct, that one way to make a test case is to violate the ordinance then challenge it in court. (The other way would be to ask a court for a declaratory judgment before filming.) They’re both going to be expensive, and the first risks being unpleasant even if you win in the end.

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