Is It Legal to Take Pictures of Gas Stations With Illegal Gas Prices?


Quick Answer

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the United States public has the right to take photographs more or less without restriction, provided they are operating in a public area. This includes gas stations and their advertised prices, whether or not said prices are illegal.

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Full Answer

In the United States, the right to photograph public areas and events has been repeatedly protected under the First Amendment. As in most law, some exceptions do exist. These focus primarily in the areas of privacy and trespassing. For instance, photographing a gas station from a public sidewalk is generally understood to be legal. However, the gas station management is still within its rights to restrict photography on the property itself. Gas station owners could construe such photographs, taken without their permission, as trespassing. Likewise, while a photographer might be able to see through a window into a private residence from the same sidewalk, attempting to photograph it could represent an invasion of privacy. As gas stations display their prices as advertisement for public viewing, this restriction wouldn't apply.

While these rules apply to single frame photography, people should not mistake this as extending to all media. Distinct laws that vary from state to state cover video and audio recordings. For instance, under California's penal code 632(c) it is illegal to record any confidential communication without consent.

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