Hollywood Blvd. Extortion?

Via SoCal-dSLR:

on the news they arrested 3 charactyers for strong arming people taking photos of them who did not tip the characters, police have a sting going because it has become such a problem with the characters going after the photographers that will not pay for taking photos.


Last Saturday one of the Hollywood Blvd. hangout types… demanded money or a press pass from me … I just walked away … but if I was there with family/children … I would have felt uncomfortable.

I know there are several different people, dressed as various characters, who hang out around the Hollywood and Highland Complex on a regular basis, and pose for photos with tourists. But who’s in the right here? The costumed peeps for not being alerted about photography, or the photographers who felt that they didn’t need to ask for permission?

UPDATE: Here’s an update.

11 thoughts on “Hollywood Blvd. Extortion?”

  1. I’d side with the photographers as being in the right in not having to ask permission. The costumed folks may be “performing,” but they’re doing so on public property. At best they can passively solicit for “donations,” but using abusive or abrasive tactics to demand payment is way out of line.

  2. I live around the corner from the Chinese and see these people every day — and while I haven’t seen this aggressive tactic first hand, I know these people can be downright bitter if they get caught in the background of a shot.

    Anyone in public, let alone at one of the most popular tourist spots in the world, should expect that their photo is going to be taken.
    And if you’re dressing up in character, you WANT your photo to be taken.

    Legally, anyone can take anyone’s photo in public.

    If anyone is breaking the law here, its the costumed characters on multiple fronts. They’re not paying permits to be out soliciting for money, not to mention reporting said earnings, or having a business license for that matter. Additionally, if they were to seek permits to make soliciting funds legal, they’d also need to get permission to use the likenesses of the different characters they’re dressed as (Shrek, Spiderman, the fat Batman, the skinny Batman, etc.). Even Elvis and Marilyn would need to get permission from the estates.

    Its a shame is there’s some aggressive tactics going on here, because it may result in the ban on these people using the above reasons.

  3. These “characters” are on public property, right?

    Do they have a business permit?

    Do they pay taxes on their income?

    Certainly, if we’re talking about non-commercial photography, then the characters can just shove it. Either that, or they can present themselves in a private forum and charge money for tickets.

    If we’re talking about commercial photos, where the photographer sells the photos or uses them to create posters or such, then it’s a bit more dicey. But still, if they are “performing” on public streets, I suggest they have forteited any privacy protection.

    However, that all said, what if it was a street musician and instead of a camera, it was a tape recorder? In that case, I’d pretty strongly argue that the commercial use of that recording (without permission or compensation of the musician) is wholly wrong.

    So perhaps I’ve got a bit of a double-standard thing happening in my head, at least when it comes to commercial work. Still, if I can’t stand on a public sidewalk and shoot photos in any direction I choose, something is wrong. If these characters choose to pollute my visual space, then I should have a right to photograph them.

  4. I call shenanigans on the costumed performers. It’s not Joe Shutterbug’s problem that some jackass doing Michael Jackson crotch grabs in a public space has a shitty business plan with a number of holes in it.

    Even if the photographer wants to use the photos for commercial purposes, it’s fair game as far as I am concerned, again given their choice of locations to conduct their business.

  5. Well, commercially, the photographer would get just as much heat, if not more, for not licensing the rights use for the characters in question. You think Marvel wouldn’t pitch a fit if I tried to advertise a product using a Hollywood Blvd Spidey in my ad? So commercial? No. Personal use? Shoot all you want on public property.

  6. I think the street performers are wrong in strong arming people for money.

    I am the Downtown Los Angeles Town Crier and I wouldn’t dare do this , ever. I am an ambassador of this city , thus it behooves me to behave in an appropriate manner. I know Town Crier in London makes people pay for Photos , but I won’t. But I have never tried to do my thing on Hollywood BLVD either , for fear of being associated with these characters. MIne is a dignified position.( at least I would like to think so)

    If someone wants to take a picture with me or of me that is fine. I am providing a service for the Great CIty of the Angels. I wouldn’t make it a business profession of harrrassing folks on the streets.

    I am with the photographers , you are on public property , thus you now become public domain.

    These guys are not being paid by anyone and if they think acting like fools and harrassing tourists they are in some way providing a service , then I do beleive someone should correct them.

    The Town Crier has spoken!!!!

    God Bless Hollywood

  7. Ouh Oh!!!
    Is that good or Bad?!?!


    I do have a question though , if this happened ,were these guys warned before hand?

    If not that is not cool either.

    Common sense dictates in these instances though, and if these select few did do this , I do have a problem in that it could change how things are done on Hollywood blvd. and I don’t want to see this happen.
    ANd just kidding about the Town crier has spoken .

    I have no authority other than celebrating the citizens of Los Angeles and visitors.

    I just thought I would thorw my two cents in.

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