Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Florida Photography: A New Law Gone Mad!!!

Hay bales on the farmYou're traveling in Hamilton County Florida and see a gorgeous farming landscape with hay bales shiny from the setting sun, and get a great photograph of the scene. Perhaps you come across a great river scene along the Indian River in Florida, with rows of orange trees in the background, and snap a photo of it.

Come this July, you could be charged with 2 counts of first degree felony photography, punishable by serious jail time, if a proposed Florida statute becomes law.

Florida State Senator Jim Norman (R) (Tampa) has proposed to make it a first-degree felony to photograph a farm without first obtaining written permission from the owner. A farm is defined as any land "cultivated for the purpose of agricultural production, the raising and breeding of domestic animals or the storage of a commodity."

Are you are shaking your head in disbelief? If you can't believe anyone would propose a law this insane, think again. Here's a link to SB 1246 as proposed by Senator Norman.

Wilton Simpson, a farmer who lives in Norman's district, said the bill is needed to protect the property rights of farmers and the "intellectual property" involving farm operations. Simpson, also said the law would prevent people from posing as farmworkers so that they can secretly film agricultural operations.

Of course, Simpson couldn't name a single instance when that happened.

Seriously, are you kidding me Mr. Simpson. What intellectual property is there to be protected from me taking a photo of your farm?

This bill is so crazy, it even would make it a first degree felony to photograph a farm from a public road, where the farmer enjoys no expectation of privacy whatsoever.

Talk about a law which violates my First Amendment Rights!

NPPA (National Press Photographers Association) Attorney Mickey Osterreicher has received assurances from Senator Norman's staff that the bill is will be amended to specifically relate to trespassers on private property.

Even so, this law could have a chilling effect on Freedom of the Press. This could put the subjects of news or editorial articles in a bargaining position for the right to photograph them or what they do, which interferes with objective and honest reporting.

This law is a wrong headed example of a proposed law which is completely beyond the character of a free republic, a democracy, and the United States of America.

Please join me in opposing this un-American law. You can contact Senator Norman via his website.


Al in Tampa said...

Ned, they really have gone mad in Florida, haven't they. I can't believe that proposed law!

Please continue to keep us informed. I'm emailing my state senator tonight.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry I read this too late, just another case of Florida’s corrupt Politicians

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