The rights of photographers when in Australia - Dreamstime

Although these laws come from the state of New South Wales, within Australia, they generally apply to the whole nation.

First when it comes to privacy, unlike the USA, Australia does not have a Bill of Rights, so our laws are going to be different.

In an article by Andrew Nemeth BSc (Hons) LLB MTeach, titled "NSW Photographer's Rights - Australian street photography legal issues", it is clearly pointed out that in Australia the taking and publication of a person's photograph, without their consent or knowledge, but within the limitations outlined below, is not an invasion of privacy, nor is it in contravention of case or statute law.

Privacy advocates may disapprove, but in this country people-photography has always been, and for the moment remains, a perfectly legal thing to do.

As Justice Dowd put it with ruthless clarity in R v Sotheren (2001) NSWSC 204: "A person, in our society, does not have a right not to be photographed"

Wow, how many people knew that! It is the same for permanent structures viewable from public spaces, including buildings and statutes--a property release is not required, subject to other laws!

Limitations on photo rights (Australia)

Just because "unauthorised" photography has not been generally prohibited, it does not mean it's a free-for-all. Far from it! In NSW Anti-Voyeurism, Defamation and Obscenity laws still apply, as do common law doctrines of Nuisance, Trespass, or statutory prohibitions arising out of the Commonwealth Trade Practices Act.

The main point of this article is to make you aware that model and property releases are not legally required in Australian public place photography, except for commercial use. Of course different laws apply to different countries.

Commercial Use

Generally speaking, if you wish to make "commercial use" of a person's likeness, then you need to obtain their consent via a signed "Model Release". If you don't, then you have appropriated the person's likeness and they can, and most likely will, sue for damages.

For the full article, visit:

Photo credits: Erwin Purnomo Sidi.

Your article must be written in English

January 16, 2011


Thanks good post.

Kind regards,

January 14, 2011


Very interesting!

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