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Court Rules Surreptitious Photos Did Not Invade Family Privacy

An appellate court recently ruled that while a “technical home invasion” involving a prominent photographer taking surreptitious photos of a Tribeca family and their toddlers was deplorable, it was not illegal.

The photographer is Arne Svenson, who has earned critical acclaim for his work over the course of his career. He was accused of shooting photos through a telephoto lens through the family’s apartment window. He then used the photos, including photos of the children, for a photography gallery show called “The Neighbors.” Apparently, Svenson would spend hours sitting in his apartment waiting for the family to pass the window, and would keep the lights off in his home so that residents of the neighboring building would not see what he was doing.

Although Svenson photographed many people in the building, only one family filed a lawsuit after he refused to take two photographs of the family’s children out of the exhibition. Svenson’s attorney argued that the family had a reduced expectation of privacy for choosing to live in an apartment with floor-to-ceiling windows in which they did not draw the curtains closed.

The court ruled that “The Neighbors” exhibition was a work of art protected by the constitution, and that this particular invasion of privacy does not constitute a statutory tort of privacy invasion pursuant to civil rights law. Additionally, the court said that Svenson’s actions did not meet the “utterly despicable” standards necessary to charge him with a crime. However, the court did call on the state legislature to consider the issue closely, saying the case posed a troubling risk to people’s privacy.

If you believe your privacy has been violated in your home, contact the New York attorneys of Barasch, McGarry, Salzman & Penson today.

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