I've just been in a shop in Amsterdam which had a sign saying:

No pictures allowed and specially not when wearing our garments!!!

If we see you making pictures anyway, you will have to buy them by law!!

To my British sensibilities, it seems highly unlikely such a law would actually exist anywhere in Europe, as despite what cultural variation there is, this seems a bit extreme—it's one thing to require you to buy something you break, as is a done thing in some places, but it's a whole different class when you've not deprived the store of anything of value.

Can they oblige you to buy something in such a way? If you they try to, what should you do?

  • 36
    Didn't you know that having a piece of cardboard and a permanent marker enables people to make up laws at their own convenience? This can be very useful at times. Apr 30, 2016 at 10:50
  • 6
    My Dutch sensibilities are exactly the same :-)
    – AVee
    Apr 30, 2016 at 10:51
  • 24
    You should have taken a picture of the sign.
    – phoog
    Apr 30, 2016 at 13:32
  • 5
    @Willeke if the customer is liable for damaging the store's property then it is up to the customer to have, and seek reimbursement from, an insurer. I imagine most do not. If the store has its own insurance, it's possible that the insurer would take care of collecting from the customer or the customer's insurer, but the liability still lies with the customer, not the insurer.
    – phoog
    Apr 30, 2016 at 13:37
  • 6
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this is not about travel.
    – user4188
    Apr 30, 2016 at 18:54

1 Answer 1


Being Dutch, I have never heard of such law. I also doubt there is a law that would cover this, I would take it as a try to intimidate you. But also as a 'please really, really do not do this.'

If caught out after you made the picture and before you had seen the sign, I would let them try to sue you. But if seeing the sign before you take the picture, do not take one.

If the designs in the shop are unique, they have the right to protect their copy-right, but that would go for pictures of the clothing without it being worn. I would not let me be bullied into buying their clothing, but I would also not take photos of me wearing stock unless I have approval of shop staff.

Added: Taking the photo is not breaking the copy-right laws, using the information from the photo might be. But that breaking of the copy-right laws can also happen after you have bought the item, much easier even. So I doubt the judge (if it came to a court case) would accept it as reason to be forced to buy the item.

I am Dutch, I am not a lawyer but I am pretty much aware of customer rights.

  • 2
    Ah, I hadn't thought of the copyright side of this, given the variation in copyright law as pertains to fashion.
    – gsnedders
    Apr 30, 2016 at 11:08
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    @SpehroPefhany There is no such thing as "European sensibilities": Europe is a large number of separate countries with distinct cultural norms and some Europeans have very different sensibilities from others. I don't know what the law says in Germany, but in the UK, taking a photograph of a shop display from the public street is, legally, no problem at all; from the "public" part of a mall, it would be up to the owners of the mall, not the shop, to decide policy. Similarly, trade shows are private venues so they can impose whatever rules they want about photography. Apr 30, 2016 at 16:17
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    @PeterCordes: I'm not convinced this can work when dealing with people who want to sell something, as they then have an incentive to pretend being annoyed in order to make the customer buy more. In other cases, I fully agree with your strategy. As for the described case, of course, the vendor may, at their own risk, assume that the photographing person is not going to buy anything in that store, neither now nor in the future. The vendor is then free to leave a lasting impression and thereby turn their assumption into a self-fulfilling prophecy :) Apr 30, 2016 at 18:53
  • 3
    There is no copyright on fashion. That's why high-end designers rely on trademark instead (e.g. "LV" and Prada logos, or red soles on Louboutin shoes). Apr 30, 2016 at 20:38
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    @O.R.Mapper: I have seen signs in the U.S. telling people not to take photos while wearing store-owned merchandise. I would guess that before posting such signage, the stores may have had a sufficient influx of people trying on merchandise for the sole purpose of taking photos that it detracted from the business of selling clothes to people seeking to buy it. That having been said, I would wonder if such people were so numerous as to pose a problem, the store might benefit from selling a souvenir-photo service in addition to their merchandise.
    – supercat
    Dec 31, 2016 at 17:05

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