Videomaker – Learn video production and editing, camera reviews › Forums › General › Video and Film Discussion › Shooting a license plate on someone’s car
I was wondering if anyone here knew if it is illegal to shoot a car license plate from a public street. In other words, say you see a vanity plate on someone’s car that you like…can you shoot it freely being it is in the public domain or does the auto owner have an expectation of privacy for the license plate?
It depends on on the jurisdiction and may vary.
In most cases it’s perfectly OK to take pictures while staying on the public sidewalk. That means you may have trouble taking photos at the superstore parking lot since it’s private property. Stay away from private driveways.
Check this collection of Outstanding Licence Plates at http://www.pl8s.org.
The general concensus seems to be that other people and their property are fair game so long as 1 of these 2 conditions are met:
1. They (or it) cannot be recognized as being (or belonging to) a specific person. For example, if you shoot someone from behind, or with their face in deep shadow, they cannot be recognized. If you shoot someone’s house or car, shoot from an angle where you can’t tell which of dozens of houses/cars in the neighborhood it is.
2. If the person or property is recognizible, have them/it as an insignificant detail in the background, preferably with several other people or cars or whatever. Don’t call attention to them/it.
If you can find an online database of existing plates, you could use photshop to make a fake plate that hasn’t been taken yet. Then superimpose it over the video where the real plate is. (Or maybe use a color scheme that no state is using.)
BTW, ever notice how, in the movies, phone numbers almost always have a 555 prefix? Like "operator, give me 555-1234". There are no real-world phone numbers beginning "555".
Just my 3 cents worth, 🙂