Thursday, April 7, 2011

And we thought the Florida law was bad?

Hay bales on the farmA while back I wrote about a proposed law in Florida which would make it a first-degree felony to photograph a farm without first obtaining written permission from the owner.

Wilton Simpson, a Florida farmer 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.

The originally proposed bill was so crazy, it even would have made it a first degree felony to photograph a farm from a public road, where the farmer enjoys no expectation of privacy whatsoever.

Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed in Florida, and even though it is still a bad proposed law, in my opinion, the law now exempts photographs taken from a public road, and reduced the level of the crime from a felony to a misdemeanor.

Over in Iowa, however, there is one upmanship going on.

A proposed Iowa bill similar to the Florida bill, would prohibit photography of farms and crops without the permission of the owner. That's bad enough, but the “devil's in the details” as they say.

To Iowa’s credit, it would appear that photography from a public road is exempted from this law, however, included in the law, the mere possession and distribution of photography (photographs posted on one's personal online gallery would be included) of a farm, taken while on the farm property without permission of the owner, would be a crime.

This would seriously affect news photographers and organizations even more than travel photographers, of course, but it could affect anyone. This law would make editors and news organizations criminals if they publish, or even possess undercover footage of farms, crops or animal facilities.

If would also make innocent travelers who might step on to a farms property to get a better angle of that nice telephoto shot of the barn area felons too.

How in the world do legislators minds work, calling photographers criminals, instead of those who would perform illegal activities on farm property? Why are legislators trying to protect possible criminals? It boggles my mind.


Agitater said...

Having such laws on the books in various states in the U.S. is no less peculiar than some of the draconian (and unforceable) photography restrictions recently proposed in the UK.

So a well manicured farm with lush growth is going to be considered a farmer's intellectual property? This reminds me of nothing so much as the push, throughout the 80's and 90's to refer to everything created by a person as "art" - a homemaker arranging the cutlery was performing a form of sculpture, a used car dealer decorating his car lot was a mechanical artist, etc., etc. - all in addition to being a homemaker and a car salesman and so on of course. It's idiotic. It's the latest evidence that everyone in the western world has apparently developed some sort of mental disease - call it "Entitlement Syndrome" for want of an official medical term.

Wait Ned . . . is that you in your car on the street in front of my house? Are you photographing my front garden? STOP!! STOP THAT NOW!!! My peonies are mine! My daffodils are specially arranged in a custom designed arc (which has NOTHING to do with the old stone buried about a foot deep from when the house was built - NOTHING). That'll be fifty bucks please and I don't take cheques/checks.

Ned S. Levi said...

Howard, I really didn't think much of the peonies, but the daffodils are really special (LOL).

Thanks for the great comment and the laughs.



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