How art gets generated.

Photos of New York Family Taken Through Their Window is Protected Art, Judge Rules

Is it creepy when Arne Svenson watches you sleep?

Is it creepy when Arne Svenson watches you sleep?

Next time a neighbor points one of these through your window, best just to say ‘cheese’: A New York judge has ruled such photos count as ‘art,’ protected by the First Amendment and trumping privacy rights.

It was art, intrusive as it was.

A New York City judge has sided with a photographer in a suit brought by a Tribeca family who were photographed in their home from across the street for an exhibit called “Neighbors.”

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Eileen Rakower ruled Thursday that the right of Arne Svenson to take photos without permission of Martha and Matthew Foster and their children and exhibit them trumps the family’s right to privacy in their home, which has floor-to-ceiling windows.

Rakower said she did not believe the case violated state civil rights law, which makes it a misdemeanor to take an unauthorized photo for advertising or trade purposes.

“Art is considered free speech and is therefore protected by the First Amendment,” Rakower wrote. She said it was within Svenson’s artistic rights to promote his show by sharing some of the photos with a weekly newspaper and by offering to sell them on the Internet.

“While it makes the [Fosters] cringe to think that their private lives and images of their small children can find their way into the public forum of an art exhibition, there is no redress under the current laws of the state of New York,” Rakower wrote.

The Fosters had sued to get possession of the pictures.

By Barbara Ross, New York Daily News, 8/8/13

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