With the advancement of technology, our smartphones are only getting better and better. There are people who make deals worth millions of dollars, with a few taps on their smartphones. There are people who have made short movies by simply using their iPhones.

Having a cell phone with this much technology has led to a massive content creation boom and it seems like everyone is trying to find a way to go viral. Cell phones have given everyone in the world an opportunity for 15 minutes of fame or to even gain millions of followers on social media.

Because of this, you never really know when you could be in the background of a video someone is making for Instagram or YouTube. Can someone legally record anything and everything, while in public, in Iowa?

Unsplash - Lucas Alexander
Unsplash - Lucas Alexander

Can Someone Legally Photograph Or Film In Public?

According to the American Civil Liberties Union in Iowa (ACLU Iowa), yes, you can record or photograph just about anything if you're in public. The ACLU Iowa says

"You have the right to photograph or film anything that is in plain view when you are lawfully in a public space. This includes state and federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police/government officials carrying out official duties."

As long as what someone is taking a picture of or video recording is in plain view and they are legally allowed to be in that public place, they're allowed to take as many pictures or record as many videos as they want. If you end up in the background of one of those photos, you can't do anything about it. One of the reasons behind this is that you cannot have a reasonable expectation of privacy while out in a public area.

What about recording a police officer while they're on duty?

"You have the right to observe and record police on duty in public as long as you don't interfere with their activities. If you are truly interfering with law enforcement activity, police may legally order you to stop photographing or recording."

Isn't it kind of freaky to think that if you're in the same public space as someone else, you can end up in someone's video even if you don't want to be in it? As long as there is no harassment involved, the person who recorded the video is in the clear. I've never really thought about it but it kind of gives me the heebie-jeebies to think I might be in someone's Instagram video and not even know it.

What about your own private property? Are there different regulations? You bet there are. When it comes to private property, this is an entirely different story.

Unsplash - Wesley Tingey
Unsplash - Wesley Tingey

According to ACLU Iowa,

"You typically do not have a First Amendment right to photograph or record on private property without the consent of the property owner. However, there may be very specific circumstances when you may have a right to take photos without the consent of the private property, like documenting worker safety violations at work in many instances."

If you are in your home or on your property and someone is recording a video or taking pictures, while also on your property, that would be illegal. This can get a bit misconstrued when someone is in the street or on the sidewalk in front of your house.

If someone takes a picture or video recording from the sidewalk and you show up in the background from a window in your house, there's not a ton you can do. Once again, unless there's some type of harassment involved. You could try and call the police and report someone loitering I suppose but unless you own that part of the sidewalk, technically they aren't breaking the law.

Honestly, I'm not too worried about being in anyone's photograph or accidentally appearing in their YouTube video. That's fine, as long as I'm not doing something embarrassing. I'd hate to get caught fixing a wedgie or scratching my butt.

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