Can I videotape in public? What is defined as a public/private space? 2 Answers as of August 06, 2013

I was recording on my camera as I walked into the student rec center at my university and stopped recording after I was in the lobby because I had gotten what I needed. I vlog on Youtube. I scanned my ID card and proceeded through the turnstiles. A student employee then stopped me and asked me to delete any photos or videos I had taken in the building because it is against their policy. I had never heard of this or specifically agreed to this policy at any time because all students are automatically members. Anyways, I tried to stand my ground and argue that, if anything is private, it would only be the area past the turnpikes and that the lobby area before them where anyone without an access card could enter from outside is public, and so there is no expectation of privacy. They claimed it was private. There's a bit more to the story but these are the main details. Thinking about it afterwords, they have security cameras recording the lobby. I was wondering if that had any effect on this. So my questions are, out of what I said, who is right and wrong? What is considered a public space and what is considered a private space? Can their own policies define what is and isn't public which I later looked up online? And then, do they have any type of authority to limit general video recording (non commercial), public or private, whether defined by them or the law? Thank you so much for your advice!

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Lawyer for Indie Media
Lawyer for Indie Media | Sue Basko
First, if the university is a private university, all the property they own, indoors and out, is private and they can make whatever rules they want. Second, as far as a rec center goes, some cities or states have laws that make it illegal to take pictures of videos in a rec center or gym or health club, or in a locker room or washroom. That's for the sake of privacy. A public university may have rules about videotaping and taking photos in certain places. Also, in Illinois, it is illegal to audio record a conversation without permission from each person. A university may want students to be able to feel relaxed in their rec centers and dorms, and there has been great trouble caused by students videotaping other students without their knowledge. Just do your vloging elsewhere.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 8/6/2013
Sebby Law Office
Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
There is a whole lot of case law on this issue that you might want to investigate. Private property is property owned by any person or privately-owned entity. You always need to get permission from the owner to video or audio tape on private property. Public property is owned by a government entity. The government can limit or restrict both commercial and noncommercial taping on public property if it has a good reason. Since 9/11, many of these entities have significantly reduced or eliminated taping for security reasons. Generally, you can tape on public sidewalks, streets, and parks. It's best to ask permission in advance if you want to tape anywhere else. Also, you can't record anyone who is a minor without prior parental permission.
Answer Applies to: Nebraska
Replied: 8/6/2013
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