Contemporary Services Corporation Are…

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.

Dear Neighbors

Came home from Woody’s tonight to find this note waiting for Matt and myself:

Hi – Dear Neighbor, –

I came up to talk w/ you but you are out. I have to be at work very early ( I teach High School) each day. City Ordinance for noise is 10 pm. Please respect Quite hours in this complex; everyone here worksin the am. Im in bed by 10, so is Le. (your next door neighbor)

My bedroom is the last room back. And yes, I can hear everything. So, yes, you woke me up several timis [sic] last night. I’d appreciate it if you could please remember: I’ve asked twice now! 🙂 Also, if youre in the living room I don’t seem to hear you at night. Hope thats helpful.

Thank you for your consideration.



You have got to be kidding me. I probably shouldn’t get this wound up about it, but I really just want to scream, “What the fuck?!?” Yes, you came up stairs last night and explained how you were trying to sleep since 10pm and we were keeping you up. I apologized for being noisy, even though we weren’t. But please, don’t start our relationship off like this. I’ll admit when I’m wrong, but when you start asking for unreasonable things like this…bortaS bIr jablu’DI’, reH QaQqu’ nay’.

I’m also tired of being treated like a teenager. And she never asked twice. I think someone needs some remedial math skills….”Okay kids! Counting starts at one. And what comes after one? Two! That’s right!”

Here’s my imaginary letter I’m going to write to La:

Dear Neighbor,

Thank you for sharing your concerns. Sorry both of us were out, one of the side effects of being social, I guess. I understand that you have to be up very early. I go to college, just in case you were not aware of this fact. One of the great things about college is all the studying we have to do. Unfortunately, this often keeps us up late. While we try our best to keep quite, it is regrettable that we sometimes are louder then 10dB.

I also appreciate your concern for Le. It is very admirable for you to stick up for her, especially since she is no longer in grade school.

Regarding placement of your bedroom, the location is unfortunate. I would suggest moving it to another location. I have found that I do not often occupy the kitchen after 10pm, so if you were to locate your bedroom under the Northeastern most area of our complex, you should find it much quieter.

I would also be willing to buy you a pair of ear plugs.

I also took the liberty to lookup the ordinance in question and regret to inform you that no such ordinance exists. For your records, the closest law I was able to fine is:

8.04.310 Disturbing the peace/persons

It is unlawful for any person to disturb or tend to disturb the peace of others by violent, tumultuous, offensive or obstreperous conduct, by loud or unusual noises, or by unseemly, profane, obscene or offensive language; or for any person to permit any such conduct in any house or upon any premises owned, possessed, managed or controlled by such person or persons so that others in the vicinity are or may be disturbed. (Ord. 1142, 1992; Ord. 626 §1, 1970).

Just to be thorough, I also elected to search the Colorado Revised Statutes. Again, I regret to inform you that no such law exists. If you believe that my search is erroneous, I would appreciate the precise listing of the law you paraphrased in your earlier letter.

Thank you for your cooperation,


P.S. Suck my balls.


That’s what I would like to write. In reality. I’m not going to do a single thing about it, except post this short little rant about it. God bless the Internet.

Blogers Rights

More Inboxen™ cleanout time. However, this is something that everyone who blogs, or is thinking about blogging, should read. As a blogger you have many rights and you probably should know about them. From BoingBoing’s EFF’s blogger’s rights guide for students:

Do Public School Students Have Free Speech Rights under the First Amendment?
Absolutely. Both minors and adults have First Amendment rights, and according to the Supreme Court, public school students don’t “shed their constitutional right to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” See Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 393 U.S. 503 (1969). In the Tinker case, the Court said that public high school students had a First Amendment right to wear black armbands to class in symbolic protest of the Vietnam War. “Students in school as well as out of school are ‘persons’ under our Constitution,” the Court said, and “they are possessed of fundamental rights which the State must respect…”
But I’m a Private School Student–What About Me?
You also have First Amendment rights, but those rights only protect you from government censorship, not private censorship. As a general matter, you will receive no protection from censorship or punishment by a private school or college. See e.g. Ubriaco v. Albertus Magnus High School, No. 99 Civ. 11135 (JSM) (S.D.N.Y. July 21, 2000) (dismissing claim contesting private school expulsion for content on personal web site). However, as discussed below, some states provide private high school and college students with additional speech protections that go above and beyond the First Amendment. Furthermore, if your private school has an applicable written policy, the school must follow that policy.

Also keep in mind that even though your private school may have the right to enforce a stupid rule, that doesn’t make it any less stupid. So, if your private school is going overboard in trying to squelch online speech, contact EFF. Depending on the facts, we may be able to help you publicize the problem and hopefully convince your school to be more reasonable.

Link: The rest of the student blogger FAQ

Link: More Rights for Bloggers

Ferguson’s Law of Information Succession

For the past few weeks, I’ve been watching the TV show 24 on DVD with Eric and Dan. In watching it, people react very differently to a specific situation because of the information that they have. To the viewer, it appears as if they are acting irrationally because we have all, or almost all of the information. I’ve also noticed this phenomenon in real life. Yes, I know it’s astonishing, but I do actually get out of the house. Anyways, this led me to thinking about how this could be made in to a law. Sort of like Newton’s laws. So, here is:

Ferguson’s Law of Information Succession

The order in which information is received by a person will dictate the action a particular person will take. Information that is received by two or more parties in different orders, or with different amounts of detail (including not receiving any information at all), can be acted upon in more than one way. Each action can be completely logical, even if the actions taken by each party vary radically.