Travel Trouble

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Surprising holiday photos that can land you in trouble

Surprising holiday photos that can land you in trouble

On holidays people tend to take photos of everything that they see, from old rustic buildings and narrow streets, to food at a restaurant and the view of city lights. But there are some photos in particular that can get you in trouble with the law.

A British tourist in Egypt was arrested over mobile phone footage of the airport which happened to capture a military helicopter in the background.

Muhammed Fathi Abulkasem, 19, from Manchester was arrested and charged with collecting intelligence on the Egyptian military, reported the Associated Press.

The teenager innocently filmed the landing of his flight, which showed a helicopter in the background. Taking unauthorised photos or videos of military facilities, equipment or personnel is illegal in Egypt.

“We all have one of those landing videos on our phones,” his cousin Shareen Nawaz from the UK told AP.

“They shouldn’t have military helicopters in public spaces if this is what will happen.”

Many countries have outlawed the photographing or filming of military related materials, equipment and personnel. The strictness of these laws are related to the country’s level of secrecy.

More seemingly innocent photographs can also land tourists in hot water from places of worship, airports, museums and galleries, bridges, tunnels and railway stations – and even shopping centres and buildings.

These all seem like normal things a tourist would capture on camera – but taking snaps of these places could be illegal without you even knowing it.

The most surprising things people can’t take pictures of include some of the most famous photographs in the world, such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris at night.

The reason being, under European copyright law, works are protected for the lifetime of the artist, plus an additional 70 years. The tower’s designer, Gustave Eiffel, died in 1923 and the building entered the public domain 10 years later.

Although the lights weren’t installed until 1985 by Pierre Bideau and are an artwork, they are still protected under European copyright law.

Therefore, taking photos of the Eiffel Tower with the lights off isn’t breaking the law, although at night when the lights are flashing and dazzling over the city, it could get you in trouble with the law.

Tokyo’s most famous night bar location in Golden Gai in the centre of the Shinjuku district is an iconic spot jam-packed with around 200 miniature bars with a labyrinth of really narrow alleys winding through the block.

Signs throughout the district warn tourists of the banning of photographs.

The Sistine Chapel in Rome also forbids photographs, although not for the reasons you may assume. The Sistine Chapel contains the famous artworks of Michelangelo and Cosimo Rosselli.

People assume the reason is that the flash could damage the artwork, and although it is a concern for the longevity of the priceless art, that’s not the primary reason.

A Japanese TV company owns the exclusive rights to these famous artworks. It attained these rights when they helped fund a major restoration project. The TV corporation offered US$4.2 million to spend on restoration in exchange for the exclusive rights to photograph and film the restored art. The company produced many documentaries and art books from the deal.

The photo ban extends from buildings, artwork and iconic landmarks to animals. In particular, Chinese pandas. This ban comes after tourists have attempted to get dangerously close to the endangered creatures.

In an attempt to maintain safety for tourists and the pandas, animal groups encouraged the ban.

The tightly controlled and regulated country of North Korea consists of many photography bans, which extend to almost everything.

Getty Images photographer Carl Court spent a week in the country documenting people’s daily life. Court explained the things he was an wasn’t allowed to photograph.

The biggest rule for his photos included having to capture only full-frame images of Kim II-sung and Kim Jong-il statues and iconography.

“You can’t crop the feet off the statues. You can’t cut a bit of the corner off,” Court said.

Tourists are only allowed to enter the country if they are with a state-approved travel group that closely monitors where they go and what they see.

Electronics and mobile phones may be searched by Korean authorities at any time.