Feds Agree to Settlement That Photography of Public Buildings Is Legal

Carlos Miller

Feds Agree to Settlement That Photography of Public Buildings Is Legal

Almost a year after Antonio Musumeci was forced to the ground and detained for videotaping a federal courthouse in New York City, the Department of Homeland Security admitted that there is no law forbidding citizens to photograph federal buildings.

In a settlement reached Friday, the DHS agreed to provide written memos to its officers informing them that photography of federal buildings is, in fact, legal — something it should have done when training these officers.

The DHS will also pay Musumeci $1,500 as well as $3,350 for attorney fees, according to the settlement.

Even though they did not transport Musumeci to jail, citing him instead, they did confiscate his memory card and have yet to return it, so I believe he should have demanded more money in the settlement.

Musumeci, who posted news of the settlement on his blog, was able to document the arrest on a pinhole camera they did not confiscate as you can see in the above video.

The New York Civil Liberties Union, which represented Musumeci, believes the settlement will end harassment of photographers at federal buildings.

“Not only will this settlement end harassment of photographers outside federal courthouses, it will free people to photograph and film outside of all federal buildings,” said NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn, lead counsel in the case. “The regulation at issue in this case applies to all federal buildings, not only courthouses, so this settlement should extend to photography near all federal buildings nationwide.

The settlement states that the DHS will have ten days to deliver the memory card to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, where they plan to use it as evidence in the case against Julian Heicklen, whom Musumeci was videotaping when he was detained.

“They said they would have subpoenaed it anyway,” Musumeci said in an interview with Photography is Not a Crime. “They’re supposed to give us a copy of it.”


War on Photography