Contemporary Services Corporation Are…

The times they are a-changin’.

This post seems to be older than 14 years—a long time on the internet. It might be outdated.

I was going to complete the title of this post with “Douchebags”, but I’m not sure that’s the most appropriate term. Foolish? Ill-informed? Republican? Terrorists? Okay, this getting to political. I’ll just leave it blank and you can decide what word to fill in. Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments.

Shooting pictures can be a challenge sometimes. I used to run into similar situations back in high school when I was doing cinematography.

I remember I was shooting this one scene with my neighbor, Eddie, up at Eckstein Middle School. It was a Saturday, nice and sunny out. We’re in the parking lot shooting (he’s on top of the car, I’m inside basically letting the engine idle us forward). A cop comes up and starts asking us questions. Apparently, some of the parents (there are several soccer games being played on the field) thought we were video tapping cars that we wanted to steal, or something like that. Yea, it was really bizarre.

I also shot some video at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport garage complex. I was shooting the toll-booths because they look very similar to the US-Canadian border crossing booths. After a few minutes, I was asked to stop. I had got what I needed and left.

When I started getting serious about photography, I checkout some books about my legal rights. I wanted to know where I stood legally because if you know me, I like to push the boundaries. They more or less boil down to:

  • I can take pictures of anyone or anything on public property (this includes streets, sidewalks, and public parks)
  • Anything really does mean anything (in public, that is): accidents, children, celebrities, criminal activities, buildings, law enforcement offices, etc
  • Private parties, absent a court order, have no right to confiscate my film. Taking or attempting to take my film can constitute a criminal offense against me (such as theft and coercion)
  • The same applies for law enforcement, unless they are arresting me (which I hope doesn’t happen)

As always, I am not a lawyer (IANAL), so consult your attorney of choice before doing something rash. All the information above is taken from an excellent pamphlet put out by Bert P. Krages, who happens to be photography as well as a lawyer: The Photographers Rights. I keep this in my camera bag at all times and would suggest you do as well.

This brings me to EDays. From last year, I know that there are certain restrictions on how I shoot (i.e. flash or no-flash) and when I can shoot. That’s fine and all. This year, the CSC (Contemporary Services Corporation) Event Staff Supervisor comes up to me to make sure I know the deal. I say yes. Then he adds something to the effect of, “If you don’t follow these rules, I will have to confiscate your camera.”

As I noted above, confiscating or attempting to confiscate my camera/film is a no-no. I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it because I was here already and I didn’t want to get kicked out before the concert even started. I was going to talk to him after the concert, but I couldn’t find him and I was dead tired.

So I did the next best thing, I sent an email to Mike Smith, Branch Manager for CSC Denver, Colorado:

From: Andrew Ferguson
Re: CSC photography equipment confiscation policy

Mr. Mike Smith,

My name is Andrew Ferguson. I’m a student at the Colorado School of Mines. I also happen to take photographs. On Friday, March 30, 2007, The Colorado School of Mines hosted a concert with Flogging Molly and Single File.

I was a volunteer photography at that event with a full access press pass. Before the concert, the Contemporary Services Corporation* Event Staff Supervisor for that event talked to me to make sure I knew the rules about only photographing the first three songs of each band and to not use the flash. I informed him that I did. He then preceded to tell me that if I were to break those rules, he would have to confiscate my camera.

I have read a few books on a photographers legal rights and talked to a few friends I have who are lawyers. It is my understanding that private citizens, absent a court order, are not allowed to take my equipment for any reason. Furthermore, taking my equipment, directly or indirectly, by threatening to use force or call a law enforcement agency can constitute criminal offenses such as theft and coercion.

I regret that I did not obtain the supervisors name, however, his blue jacket had the number 202 on it and identified him as the CSC Event Staff Supervisor.

The purpose of my email is to find out what CSC’s official policy on the matter of photography equipment confiscation is.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, my contact information is below.

Thank you for your time,

Andrew Ferguson
//my email address//

We’ll see how that goes.

* If you don’t know who CSC is, they’re pretty much the Halliburton of event security. The minions wear bright yellow jackets and try to look tough. You’ll probably see them on TV if your watching a sports game.


12 thoughts on “Contemporary Services Corporation Are…”

  1. I work for CSC and they are the most disorganized company I have ever worked for. In fact, they are so big they could care less about training and supervison. They need to look back at were they started. Customer Service. They think there tough, but far from. Sorry about the confrontation,it happens often. Let me guess, no one responded to your email???

  2. Mike Smith, Branch Manager for CSC Denver, Colorado emails may fall on deaf ears like most areas. You need to direct your emails to corporate. In fact, here is an email address you can use that will or I say should get you a response or an apology at least:

    Damon Zumwalt President/CEO Direct Tel: 818.885.5150 x135 BEST WAY or email:

    Jay Brock VP, Operations or Mark Glaser VP, Operations very well may brush it off as no big deal for they are total control freaks and do not want to let corporate find out what really goes on in their areas. Trust me. Yes, I am leaving CSC for not only issues like this but many serious issues that I dont want to be apart of. Take care.

  3. The photo and video policy all depends on the bands request. Some will allow cameras but no flash, other no professional cameras but small consumer cameras no flash. And then no cameras at all. If you look at your ticket, website prior to going to any concert they should indicate the policy. It should also be clearly posted as you enter the venue. In regards to confiscating your camera, there are times do to copyrights, the film will be confiscated and you will be asked to check the camera at coat check or return it to your car outside of the venue. CSC does not make these polices for each band is different and all security details are planned out with the promoter, band security and the event staff prior to the show. DiD they take your camera? By the way, the 202 on the coats are not normally the same person. CSC requires most all employees to turn in their shirts and coats after the event for security reasons such as someone enterting backstage using a shirt that someone was wearing while on duty but either forgot and took it home or intended on stealing it for that reason. The best thing to do is call corporate — ask who was the EVENT MANAGER for that particular event. They will then be able to look at their chart on who was on what post and any supervisors names that overlooked the barricade, venue roam, ticketing, etc. Hope that helped.

  4. No one did respond to my email. I’m honestly not terribly surprised.

    I’m not complaining about what I’m limited to take photographs of. But as I understand the law (IANAL), under no circumstances are they allowed to take my camera or my film (or in this case, my memory card).

    Bert Krages has a this to say:

    Sometimes agents acting for entities such as owners of industrial plants and shopping malls may ask you to hand over your film. Absent a court order, private parties have no right to confiscate your film. Taking your film directly or indirectly by threatening to use force or call a law enforcement agency can constitute criminal offenses such as theft and coercion. It can likewise constitute a civil tort such as conversion. Law enforcement officers may have the authority to seize film when making an arrest but otherwise must obtain a court order.

    So, no. They didn’t take my camera. Probably just a scare tactic, but a potentially illegal one.

  5. Yes, your absolutely right. Again, remember CSC only does what they are instructed to do. I personally have never confiscated film or even asked them to hand over a camera or such. I simply asked the guest to please stop, go check your camera in coat check, or go somewhere where no one can see you taking pictures. I agree, it with what your saying. CSC takes orders from the Band’s or Artist security director, body guards, or personal requests from themselves. Yes, you need to be on the defensive and in such a matter if it becomes out of hand there are plenty of law enforcement officers in large venues, concerts that work with CSC–take it to them. But I am sorry CSC came across that way, some people go way overboard with “meet-and-greets” and sneak cameras in, climb fences to get shots of the band, and perhaps that is where the frustration is coming from on the CSC unit that confronted you. They are under alot of pressure and sometimes with very little instructions other than to look out for the best interests of the promoter and the band. Take care. Tyler

  6. Also, remember if you take a pictures at a concert is does violate copyright laws if you use them for commercial use, resell, or charge fees to see the pictures unless you have direct consent from the artist. Other than that you can take as many pictures as you like, just dont use your flash for it is annoying to the artists and distracts them. That’s as much as I can help you with my friend. Tyler @ CSC/ United

  7. “Also, remember if you take a pictures at a concert is does violate copyright laws if you use them for commercial use, resell, or charge fees to see the pictures unless you have direct consent from the artist.”

    Actually, I don’t believe this to be 100% true (remembering that IANAL). In fact, I would argue that a majority of the time this is not true. If you haven’t already, I would recommend that you read Legal Handbook for Photographers by Bert Krages.

  8. Let me back up a bit and perhaps on my last comment. Your right for that is a GREY AREA. Again this situtation is a fragile situation and only one of many of security and safety issues we deal with during a concert. In fact I often as a concerned event staff member want to know the facts about the business I am in so I often consult sites like In fact, I ran your comment past them and this is what they said:

    Hi Tyler

    Many thanks for your e-mail. I do think that venues are pushing it in this day and age when they confiscate cameras – most are unsure and don’t enforce it anyway which leads to further problems and misunderstandings. I think you are based in the USA? we are a UK site. I think your best bet would be to get some legal advice.
    All the best

    Debs 🙂

    Deborah Rees
    CQSW | PG DIP | MA

    Also, I would like to clarify that CSC has some really top notch people working for them, I was really upset to see how you were treated and perhaps you could sense that in my comments. However, we are in the “people business” regardless of how you look at it, you should not have been treated like that and yes… I agree. You do have your rights but in the industry especially in this area I work in Western US it is very unclear. Anyhow, if I had my way, you could do as you please, except I might kindly and politely ask you to refrain from flashing. You are the professional in your industry and I think you have a valid point that should be addressed. Thanks for the reference on the book, Ill look into it for it is interesting and I see more and more conflicts with PHOTOGRAPHERS at each concert. We are not clear on this, we really don’t know other than what we are told to enforce. Take Care. Tyler CSC

  9. Pingback: Andrew Ferguson dot NET » MediEval Days - EDays 2008 Roundup

  10. I work for the dallas branch of CSC, just an fyi the numbers on the shirts (202) are of no importance. no number is assigned to a certain person. and as for him saying he would take your camera…… he cant do that. lol the most he could do is mistake you camera for a gun (dont know how thats possible) and tackle you maybe bludgeon you with his radio. our job is to keep everyone in the building/area safe, i admit some/most of our rules and regulations are bullshit but its realy a fun job.

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