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Many public events such as sports, concerts, etc have restrictive policies that limit the ability of the audience to take photographs. These policies can vary from an outright ban to a ban on the use of 'professional' equipment. See also this discussion.

So my question is this: what gives the organising companies the right to enforce photographic restrictions on, what is after all, visible to a public audience?

Now I can understand their rights to make restrictions in purely private, by invitation only, events. But when any member of the public can choose to attend do the organisers still have rights to dictate the behaviour of members of the public?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 14 down vote accepted

You're entering into a contract - you agree to follow their rules, and they agree to let you into the concert. Any event that requires a ticket or is held on private property isn't truly a "public" event, and the property holders or event organizers can set their own rules.

It's much like this website. Yes, you may use this website for free, and it's publicly accessible, but it does have a legally binding contract that you agreed to when you made an account.

(IANAL, TINLA)

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1  
Conversely, a completely "free" and open to the public concert (such as those sometimes held in Central Park, NYC) probably couldn't impose these sorts of restrictions. –  Craig Walker Mar 17 '11 at 13:20
    
Yeah, I would think as long as they're not restricting who can enter it would be much like the rules of any other street/public photography. –  Vian Esterhuizen Jan 9 '12 at 18:28

It isn't a public event. If you don't agree to their terms (including payment of admittance) then you aren't allowed in to the event. If it is on their private property or they have exclusive rights to use the property at the time, then they can keep you out for any reason they want. They aren't forcing you to go in, so they aren't violating your rights.

As for why they put limitations on. It is often because it is either a competing product with one they are making (perhaps they sell photos or videos of the event) or possibly because of a contract rider associated with the performer. Riders are sets of requirements that the performer themselves place on the venue. A large portion of income for performers comes from merchandise and so it is relatively common for performers to want to limit access to materials from concerts to try to capitalize on the scarcity.

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