Hyperlocal news about Melbourne's first suburb: Fitzroy 3065

doublespeak at Shweshwe


Update 30 April 2009: Shweshwe closed earlier this year.

Ideas about photography in public and private spaces are changing. People can be uncertain about whether the land they temporarily occupy is publicly or privately owned, and hence whether it is lawful for them to take photographs on it. The 2006 debate about public photography in Southbank is only one example. Being mistaken for a terrorist is not funny, but neither is the stupid overreaction of many government and corporate entities in relation to photography in public spaces.

One clothing retailer on Brunswick St called Shweshwe has the following sign on their door.


This is probably inspired by the recent story in the Age about one dress retailer claiming that another had copied its dress design. This is a serious intellectual property issue, but I fail to see how banning photography in a shop will help. If I was serious about copying something I would send someone in to buy one.

The shop has the right to ban photography in its premises, which are private property, but it has no excuse for pointless preciousness. I felt obligated to take a photo of their sign saying no photos to make the point that from the street, which is public property, their declaration seems absurd.


  1. If somebody wanted to copy a design, wouldn’t it be easier to just buy the damn thing and copy it?

  2. Bob and Brian – you’re quite right, but the issue with shops (and cafes, restaurants) is often that people sometimes take photos of the interior and copy it or use the image elsewhere.

    I don’t mind people taking photos in my shop as long as they ask first: a polite acknowledgment that a shop is a private space and the public are invited into it. I find that many shops do not like photos taken, and I respect that.

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