Some people have asked about the Photo Law Card I made up and keep in my bag.
I'll provide it here, but with the warning -- I just typed this up as an explanation, the one I usually give on the rare occasions that someone wants to know why I took their picture. But it is MY understanding of the law (which could be wrong, or flawed, although I don't believe it to be at this point), and is something that has worked with ME.
What I mean by that is that in terms of my style, my personality, my MO, this card has been helpful. One caveat is that I speak Korean, so I can follow up on the card. Another is that the card assumes a couple things: a) that I always answer honestly when asked whether I took their picture, why I took a picture, and I try to be as friendly as possible, and b) I don't allow people to touch or take my camera to look at my pictures, c) I tell them that I won't use their picture and don't, and d) if they are rude or belligerent, I simply tell them the conversation's over and to move along.
Now, I have actually erased people's pictures when they've spoken to me like a normal human being, but if they're trying to be threatening or even physical, I don't even listen to them. I show them the card, they ignore it. If I put the camera in their vicinity, that means *I* am in their vicinity, and people with a beef or a chip on their shoulder aren't going to stop having them once you erase an image. This is usually the case with men. And the one time I've gotten in trouble with someone's boyfriend, the girl didn't seem to care, the boyfriend was just using the opportunity to peacock in front of the girl, and I was also with a girl myself who was working with me on the site. He was both cursing and threatening me physically (one even lied and said he was a cop and got in my face and demanded I yield my camera), and as a photographer, I felt the need to be firm and even make a point.
Yeah, to the non-photographer (or even to other photographers, for that matter), it may seem like I'm grandstanding too much on principle, but I feel if I've been honest and professional, identified myself and why I was taking a picture, and even apologized for making bad 기분, if someone's being a dick, they're just being a dick. They threaten to call the police, and I've decided to stand my ground. And I feel in that situation, you should take the heat for having caused a social situation, even if legally, you're in the right.
If they threaten to call the police (as a threat, which happened twice), and after I've given my business card and even shown my ID card to them, I simply say, "Call them. I'll wait." They called my non-bluff, and when the police came, they didn't even want to see my pictures, because they knew the law. They just told me to move along, nothing to see here.
Now, that's in Myeongdong, where the police don't seem to be dumb hicks. If you get into a bad jam, which so far hasn't happened to me related to photography directly, be prepared for it. A mere photo card ain't gonna help, which is why I think you should think about a lot of things, have a plan of action/reaction to certain situations, and stick to it.
In short, while the photo law card might help, don't think it's a get-out-of-conlict-free card for all situations. You're now confronting someone potentially uncooperative (hey, you're showing them this card, aren't you?), so also having a name card, a site, and evening producing your ID can go a long way towards helping the situation. Of the relatively few times I've ever been confronted, only once did it go all the way to me standing there waiting for the police to come, and that time, I didn't have my photo card or name card, as I had just taken a break from work to get a snack, took my camera, and lo' and behold, the belligerent guy showed up on the single time in years I've walked with my camera but no bag, where I keep everything!
The other time the police came, I had been standing in the middle of the street (Myeongdong) taking pictures as people walked by, camera in plain sight, click, click, click. Most people didn't notice, but a few did. That's the standard story. I try not to stand out, but I am also not hiding anything. Apparently, someone walked by the police station and reported something nefarious was going on. They never even confronted me directly. Since I was just standing there, the police came out, asked me what I was doing, and I simply told them.
I was actually irritated that the person reporting hadn't even asked me before running off to 5-0, to which the police replied, "Well, he couldn't speak English." To which I replied, "Are we speaking English now?" The cop just smiled like, "Come on, you know what we mean," but he got the point. He just told me to be more careful and to "understand people's feelings." Well, I agree. But I don't read minds. If Joe Schmoe had a problem with the picture, had he just asked, I would have politely and honestly explained it to him, with my name card and an apology. Proves the old adage, "When you ASSUME, you just make an ASS out of U and ME." Silly, but true.
In the end, people just want to know why you're taking their picture. That's it. Once they know that, and they see you're not the pervert-who-spends-hours-pasting-pictures-of-ordinary-people-on-the-street-onto-the-bodies-of-porno-stars-for-no-apparent-reason (wherever THAT fabled site is!), that's all they want to know. The card I carry is just another tool to help get that point across, and I don't use it in a "Fuck off, I don't have to listen to you" sort of way. In the end, I believe that if you have respect for your subjects, you generally won't have any problems. If you happen to catch the attention of a dick, they're going to be a dick either way. If they want to take their dickage to the legal extreme, let them, or do it yourself. Most coppers worth their salt aren't going to take someone in for simply taking a picture of someone on the street. Well, yet.
Also, remember that I made this card to explain why I was taking pictures for my SITES, so the opening of the card's first side should be adjusted or just removed. Here it is, as is:
I would say to use it as a guide for what you specifically do, and to use it wisely. And remember, it's an explanation, not a legal document.