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Improper Photography: What Is Considered “Improper?”

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Photography and visual recording are more widely available than ever before. Smartphone cameras, webcams and affordable digital camcorders allow almost anyone to capture pictures or video footage of anything that they can see. While this is a major technological innovation, misuse of these technologies can result in legal prosecution.

What Is Improper Photography or Visual Recording?

Laws regarding improper photography or visual recording are fairly straightforward and clear. Any type of photograph or video recording that is made of another person without their consent and that is intended to gratify sexual desire is illegal. It is also possible to be prosecuted for interacting with photos or videos of an illegal nature even if the person interacting with them didn’t actually record the images.

According to the Texas Penal Code, some of the actions prohibited by this law include:

  • recording images or videos of another person without consent for sexual purposes
  • distributing images or videos that were captured without consent for sexual purposes
  • forwarding images or videos received from a distributor for the sexual gratification of others

When Is Recording Illegal?

This law doesn’t explicitly forbid any recording of other people. In order for the law to apply, the prosecution must establish that the images were recorded for the purpose of sexual gratification of any person.

For example, if a person records video footage of a fight taking place on the streets of his neighborhood, it is not necessarily a crime even though the footage was captured without consent. If the footage was not intended to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person, it is not classified as improper photography or video recording.

In a more complicated example, a man who visits a beach and takes photographs or videos of the ocean may capture footage of women in bikinis. This may present a complex case because the man is capturing visual recordings of women wearing little clothing without their consent. If some of the women complained, the man would have to demonstrate that he was not making recordings for a sexual purpose.

Getting Consent before Recording

Establishing consent is a very important component of this law. For example, putting a sign up in a store informing customers that they may be filmed does not qualify as obtaining consent from those customers. If the store owner was storing and distributing footage of customers for the purpose of sexual gratification, the store owner may be subject to prosecution.

Anyone who wishes to avoid prosecution under this law should be careful to get consent from anyone that they wish to photograph or film.

If you have failed to get consent, then you may get some large legal penalties. Not only could you go to jail, but you will face embarrassment from your friends and family. However, with proper legal action you can fight the system and reduce or even eliminate your penalties. Let Brett A. Podolsky take on your case today by calling 713.227.0087.

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