ARCommunity: Hungarian Law Prevents Portraits Without Consent

I was walking along a New York City street yesterday with my best friend.  We hadn’t seen each other in years and decided to commemorate the occasion by doing what most social media junkies do today, take a #selfie.  Only problem was we were sitting at the window of a very busy coffee shop and the best lighting was with our backs to the over 50 people who chose to have a cup at 3pm that same day.  So we proceeded to go around the coffee shop to about 20 people behind us asking them, very politely, “Sir/Ma’am, do you mind if we take a selfie over by the window?  You might be in the shot and we plan on posting this to a public forum.  Is that okay with you?”  Most agreed but one couple refused.  So my best friend and I had to wait until either they got up and left the establishment or wait till later and take our selfie somewhere else.

Sounds like a ridiculous scenario, doesn’t it?  Well if we lived in Hungary it wouldn’t sound so far-fetched, according to a new law already in effect.

“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 aware they are about to be photographed and are not waving in protest, nor trying to hide or run out of shot.

“Márton Magócsi, senior photo editor at news website Origo, said “having to ask for permission beforehand is quite unrealistic in any reportage situation’. Meanwhile, some judges who have overseen hundreds of such cases are privately saying they have no idea how to rule on cases under the new code. ‘This [regulation] is a nonsense and in my opinion impossible,’ lawyer Eszter Bognár said. ‘I don’t think this is going to change the practice of photographing ‘normal’ people, because they don’t have the possibility to ID the person taking the photo, but it’s going to be more difficult to take pictures of policemen.’ Stiller agrees, noting that the code also misses an opportunity to specify normal police officers as ‘public actors’ and thereby scrap a much-maligned law that Hungary’s media outlets must pixelate their faces.” – Daniel Norlan, (Read the full article at The Guardian)

“The new civil code covers anyone in the frame, which means that in theory, photographers will have to seek permission from anyone in the foreground or background whether they are the subject or they are incidental to the shot, as long as they are identifiable in the photo.

“The article states that the law simply codifies current court policy, but photographers are understandably up in arms…

“The scenarios under which this civil code could be enforced are interesting. Would tourists on vacation have to ask permission of other tourists on the Chain Bridge? Would news photographers have to get permission of every attendee at a rally or sporting event?” – David Schloss, (Read the full article at DPReview)

What do you think of this new law?  Do you think we, in the U.S., should be concerned when something like this happens elsewhere?  Do you think laws like this one will become the norm worldwide?  Share your opinion with us in the comments below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>