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Peeping Tom photographer gets OK to keep snapping pics of neighbors

Posted at 11:50 AM, Aug 09, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-09 19:33:37-04

Tribeca, NY (WPIX) – A New York judge has ruled that it is perfectly legal for someone to document and display other people’s private lives without their permission, as long as it for the sake of art.

At a Tribeca building on Greenwich Street, with the curtains drawn exposing floor-to-ceiling windows, residents could be seen cleaning and putting the kids to bed inside their homes.

Across the street on Watts Street, a man was reportedly photographing them. Then, those photos of unknowing New Yorkers turned up in a Chelsea art gallery earlier this year, as an exhibition called ‘The Neighbors’. It was the work of artist Arne Svenson, the man across the street.

Back in May, some neighbors told PIX 11 that they view the photographer as more of a peeping tom.

Peeping Tom photographer gets OK to keep snapping pics of neighbors

“In my home, I’m safe. I mean, I’m supposed to be protected right?” one alarmed resident said. “What happens if someone is peeking through my window?”

He is not the only neighbor outraged.

In fact, one couple felt so violated that Svenson took photos of their children, they filed a lawsuit against him, claiming he violated their right to privacy.

This week, the judge reportedly dismissed the case, ruling Svenson’s artistic freedom superseded the couple’s privacy concerns, citing the First Amendment.

A nearby resident told PIX 11, “On the one hand, if you leave your windows open, someone is going to see in at some point. On the other hand, it might be seen as a little creepy.”

We tried to talk with residents of the building since the ruling came down, but none of them wanted to comment.