Score one for the Peeping Toms out there.
A New York judge has dismissed a case against photographer Arne Svenson who was accused of invasion of privacy for photographing his neighbors through their windows. Svenson, whose images in his series, “The Neighbors,” depict people in their apartments in the building adjacent to his, exhibited his images in a gallery showing last spring. Unbeknownst to them, Svenson was using a telephoto lens to capture the images of people in their glass walled luxury building doing everyday tasks.
One of the subjects, who recognized themselves and their children in the images, sued Arne for a violation of their of privacy and argued that the photographs of their children were used for commercial purposes.
Ruling that the photographs were protected by the first amendment, Judge Eileen A. Rakower dismissed the lawsuit against Svenson citing that the photographs were works of art and not for commercial trade.” The value of artistic expression outweighs any sale that stems from the published photos,” she ruled.
The judge cited that New York state civil rights laws “yield to an artist’s protections under the First Amendment under the circumstances presented.”
After Svenson’s victory, the exhibit ended and he took down the images from his website and Facebook page and vowed not to use the images in the future.
I can see the artistry in his images and it may not violate any New York laws of privacy, but there is something creepy about someone unknowingly taking images of people through the windows of their place of sanctuary.
Some might argue that in most of the images, the subject is unidentifiable and therefore their privacy shouldn’t be called into question. I can see both sides of the argument here, but at what point should the line be drawn between artistic freedom and privacy?
Would love to hear your thoughts and comments about the matter, while I go draw my curtains…