From time to time, the enthusiast community, be they locals or visitors, runs afoul of TTC officialdom by actually taking photographs of TTC operations. This leads us into the quagmire of policies and bylaws regarding photography on TTC property.
Yesterday at the Commission Meeting, the makers of a student video “I Get On the TTC” were celebrated by all present including Chair Giambrone and Mayor Miller who observed that they had managed to make this entire production without official authorization.
Not long ago, a new policy regarding photography on TTC property was before the Commission, and a letter was simply “received” (ignored) raising problems with how this applies to amateurs including tourists and transit enthusiasts.
The problem begins with the text in the policy itself:
“Filming/photographing on TTC property means commercial or non-commercial requests as follows:
“3.1 Commercial Film production agencies to film television commercials, feature films, etc., and photographic agencies for magazines, billboard advertising, etc.
“3.2 Non-Commercial Requests from the news media, students and other non-professional individuals and groups for productions requiring TTC assistance and authorization.”
The policy directs people to various other documents about property permits and the need for supervision. Moreover, it can be read to imply that if I want to take a photo anywhere on the TTC, I have to have a property permit, I have to tell you where I am going to do this and Transit Control must know about it. This is an onerous, unreasonable and unenforceable restriction.
However, TTC Bylaw Number 1, quoted directly from the website, mentions ONLY “Commercial” photography in:
“16.b No person shall operate for commercial purposes any camera, video recording device, movie camera, or any similar device upon any vehicle or premises of the Commission without authorization.”
The bylaw is silent on non-commercial photography. Just to complicate things, many types of “commercial” photography such as a newspaper event shoot are not covered by 3.1 in the policy.
The two documents — policy and bylaw — are not in harmony with each other. Although I wrote a lengthy critique of the new Bylaw No. 1, this appears to have been completely ignored by the TTC (it has many, many more problems than the definition of photography). The problem is that badly drafted policies and bylaws give leeway for TTC staff to harass people who are in no way interfering with their operations and may even be providing free publicity and goodwill.
If “security” is the issue, then say so explicitly. Publish the policies and procedures for complying with them online, not hidden away in documents nobody can access or even know about.
The makers of “I Ride On the TTC” are an interesting case. They were not making their video for “commercial” purposes as defined in 3.1 above. What they were doing clearly did not require TTC “assistance”. All that they lacked was “authorization”.
The key words in 3.2 are “assistance and authorization”. I hate to split hairs, but legal beagles will tell you that “and” means that both conditions must be present for the clause to be operative. If they didn’t need assistance, then the question of authorization is moot because it has no bearing. I should also note that “supervision” is not the same as “assistance”. If I want to take a photo on a streetcar, I don’t need anyone from the TTC to help me do it even though they might want to be sure I don’t catch anything as unseemly as a grafitti covered seat, a scratched up window or an overcrowded car.
I hate to say this again, but this is the sort of petty-minded and ineptly executed “policy” that makes me cringe when I consider matters of substance like the Richmond Hill subway or a contract for hundreds of streetcars.