Photography License!

Very nice:

In the event you're stopped by overzealous law enforcement or security officials attempting to enforce fictitious laws, I've designed these fictitious and official-looking Photographer's Licenses. If you have Adobe Illustrator, you can download the vector art EPS file and print your own. You'll need a photo of yourself, and OCR or an equivalent-looking font to fill in your personal information.

Department of Homeland Security Photographer's License
San Francisco Muni Photographer's License

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35 Responses:

  1. phoenixredux says:

    That can't be legal. Then again, neither are police restrictions on photography of public views. But which one is worse - getting busted for creating a fake government ID (a Federal offense, in this case) or letting a gullible cop think that photographers need licenses? Bad for you, bad for what remains of society.

    Better idea: don't talk to the cops.

    • jwz says:

      I wonder what the legality of it is, really -- it just says "bearer is authorized to use camera", which is, you know, true.

      Is "U.S. Department of Homeland Security" a registered trademark?

      • jrenken says:

        This isn't really my area of the law, but it looks as if 18 U.S.C. § 506(a)(2) has something to say about this.

      • phoenixredux says:

        I do think that's a problem. I'm not a lawyer, but it seems like common sense that the Government (particularly DHS) would take a dim view of IDs bearing their insignia or logo that someone makes in their basement with Adobe Illustrator, an inkjet printer and a laminating machine. Unless you can get it autographed by Janet Napolitano, I think you're asking for trouble.

        I think that if you made up a logo and title that sounded officious, it would be enough to display if asked for credentials.

        It's California. Can't you just tell them you're a Producer? Everybody's a Producer. I'm a Producer. Anything more than that, they don't need to know. Are they arresting you? No? Then walk away. If they do, don't say another word without your lawyer. Public photography isn't a crime. Any judge will throw it out, if it even gets that far. Giving them a fake DHS Id is like giving them a license to throw you in one of those secret prisons we supposedly don't have anymore.

        • lafinjack says:

          Are they arresting you? No? Then walk away. If they do, don't say another word without your lawyer.

          From 2004, but have they changed that much?

          • phoenixredux says:

            "Well, you don't have to cooperate," the cop responded, exaggerating his tone. Yeah, I got his message.

            Tone or not, the cop was telling the truth. The kid didn't have to cooperate, and furthermore, he shouldn't have. He should read the Fourth and Fifth Amendment.

            • inhumandecency says:

              I think the message the cops are sending is "you don't have to cooperate, but we also don't have to not detain you for 24 hours without charges, not tear your house / car / expensive camera apart looking for drugs, and not 'mistake' the next motion you make as going for a gun." So in most cases, yeah, people could stand up to the cops and win, but the cops know you can't truly count on it. Also, one of the cops in his story was from Homeland Security, which takes intimidation to a whole new level. We don't even know all the legal powers they have, and there is no bill of rights for the disappeared.

              • phoenixredux says:

                We don't even know all the legal powers they have, and there is no bill of rights for the disappeared.

                That's the part that really scares me. They can't repeal the Bill of Rights under the Patriot Act, but someone may need to prove it to them, first. And that's going to severely screw up that person's life.

          • mattbaylor says:

            Not that it's the same thing, but there seems to be a theme in some of the stuff I'm reading this week: Kinda makes me wonder what, if anything, I can do about it.

      • nathanrsfba says:

        Is it illegal to counterfeit a three dollar bill?

  2. ydna says:

    "So there."


  3. carnivillain says:

    Hey, it's my friend Matt! I shot his wedding.

    I can't imagine that brandishing anything with a department's official logo is legal, however. That must fall under some anti-impersonation law.

    Now if this could be redone to be more generic, like just putting "United States of America" and a custom unaffiliated bald eagle crest, I'd print one out for myself right now.

    • lafinjack says:

      Yeah, the seal seems to be a no go, but nobody looks for a specific seal; they just look for a seal.

      • kencf0618 says:

        Use the National Recovery Act's Blue Eagle, or the IWW's globe!

        • lafinjack says:

          Or just make some concentric circles, a couple lat and longitudinal lines, some random words arranged in a circle, and pressto! New seal.

    • netsharc says:

      Or you can print "Department of Homeland Security" and say "I didn't say it's the US one!"

      Or you can pretend to be Haliburton (one L like a cheap fake Sony with "Somy" on it), I'm sure they the police would wonder if he should mess with Dick Cheney's thugs (ah, just like in African dictatorships, all hail the USA!)

  4. feyandstrange says:

    Nice work. But I'm going to have to edit or make my own, so I can change it to "pornographer" instead.

  5. mouseworks says:

    Funny, I had some random male old coot tell me I couldn't photograph a gunsmith's shop in Bolivar, West Virginia because of 9/11 this past week. However, no police were involved as he was trying to impress his girl friend. I was shooting with a Hasselblad on a tripod and he was asking me what I was doing. Photographying stone buildings, I said. (Yeah, I was photographying the gunsmith sign as being rather typical of the region, not as being strategically important).

    My impression is that the furtherest from any possible terrorist attack a place is, the more likely the local police are to try to stop you (based on a friend's experiences). With cameras on tripods, I photographed bridges in Philadelphia all the time . He got stopped for photographing a bridge over some creek in the upper rural Mid-West.

    I forgot about having a leatherman micra in my purse going through airport security in Philadelphia. Passed right through, even though I heard the guy explaining about my nail clippers to the trainee. On the way back to Philly, the Raleigh-Durham airport security guys confiscated it.

    Somewhere on line is a Photographer's Rights card which may be more useful than faking a seal.

    • wisn says:

      Wave hello to Bert Krages. He's been keeping The Photographer's Right up to date for years now. And unlike most of us here, he is lawyer.

      • mouseworks says:

        I found that I'd downloaded it when I was going through saved PDF files and getting rid of files on things I no longer owned. It is very good.

  6. spoonyfork says:

    Dugg for RELIGION.

  7. gytterberg says:

    There should be a "CAMERA" field in addition to height and hair color. And "TRIPOD" yes/no.

  8. manuka says:

    Added bonus if you have access to a card printer.

    • gadlen says:

      Apparently someone is having second thoughts. The above image has been "marked private" on Flickr.

      Additionally, I tried to leave a comment there and after filling out the Captcha the site returned that only registered members may post comments. Artists, feh.

  9. razster says:

    Ahhh, they're no longer working...
    That is ok because I have my own SP55, SP75 and Evolis hard card printers and your design :)

    Thanks for the Idea.

    • darkcryst says:

      I wish I had access to one of those. Most printers will only print 1000+ PVC cards.

      Any thoughts as to where I could find someone that will do low runs? I'm in the bay area, but I'm sure there is SOMEONE out there able to do that...

  10. progressism says:

    Brilliant idea. Links to EPS files doesn't work though.

  11. ralesk says:

    The term "PEACE OFFICER" made me chuckle.

  12. giantlaser says:

    This is precisely how we operated in Iraq. Both our company badges and "weapons licenses" were the product of a cheap card printer, blank cards with chips in them (unencoded, but the chip looks very official), and one Iraqi graphic designer with CorelDraw.

    For all of 2003 and most of 2004, we went anywhere and carried anything, and almost never got hassled. Much of the time we didn't even get searched.

    But one thing we didn't do was impersonate a government agency. All badges had the company name and logo on them, but lots of "secure" iconography, watermarks, etc. The "magstripe" on the back was just a thick line of black ink.

    • rukzise says:

      Dude, I had to laugh so hard I almost fell off the chair when I read that last line:

      "The "magstripe" on the back was just a thick line of black ink."

      Brilliant, just brilliant. I can't get the image of anal-retentive officers sweating into their contractor-issued combat uniform, trying to get any data off your ISO7816 card or the magstripe out of my head - for the next couple of hours probably. Thank you!

      The problem with identification usually is that there's so many forms to go around that no one seems to be able to figure out which is real anymore. I.e. it would probably be much easier to bullshit an officer of your country with a driver's license of a country that doesn't even exist for which you claim it is in Europe, South-East Asia or some other "friendly" place (i.e. *not* mid-East or too close to China!) than by forging a DMV license. Actually, that idea already has been implemented by monochrom. I wonder whether anyone ever tried using their Soviet Underzoegersdorf passport as a form of ID; at an airport for instance.

      Same goes for government organizations. Being from the "National Ministry of Truth" probably wouldn't even make coppers blink an idea in the U.K.: "OK, lad, pass right through here."

      @giantlaser what did you org do in .iq ? (/me really likes Iraq having the .iq TLD, btw :))

      • giantlaser says:

        I lived in Baghdad from Aug 2003 to Oct 2004, and then in Arbil until May 2005. My company sold satellite Internet services. I was the CTO. I was the sole American in a company that was otherwise entirely Iraqi. I blogged the entire thing here; start in mid-July 2003 if you are curious.

        The .iq domain is a whole story in itself. I'm glad that the Iraqi government has finally retaken control of it. Unfortunately getting a .iq domain is a huge pain in the ass, even for Iraqi-incorporated companies. Most irritating is the "companies must have an Iraqi name" rule. So "ABC Internet" is no good, but "Al-Sharq al-Awsat Company" ("The Middle East Company", which is a name so common in that region that it has no useful brand identity) is just fine.