News reporters, nature lovers, scientists and Western lawmakers are in an uproar over the Forest Service’s plans to finalize a ban on taking photographs in federally designated wilderness areas without permission of the service. A spokeswoman “said the agency was implementing the Wilderness Act of 1964, which aims to protect wilderness areas from being exploited for commercial gain.. … ‘We have to follow the statutory requirements.'” [Oregonian, Coyote and followup, ABA Journal]
Update: Service backs down, at least to the extent of acknowledging that it needs to clarify the scope of the ban.
I’m at 1:45 in this report that aired on WOAI (San Antonio), Fox 45 Baltimore, and other Sinclair Broadcasting stations nationwide, with accompanying article. See Nick Gillespie in Time, also linked yesterday; earlier on police cameras here, etc.
P.S. Don’t underestimate the data security issues.
No, the monkey doesn’t own copyright in the picture it reportedly snapped of itself. But does anyone own it, or is it public domain from the time of the click? [David Post/Volokh, The Passive Voice with comments, GigaOm, BuzzFeed]
Ramsey Orta, whose street video of Eric Garner’s chokehold death at the hands of NYC cops became a worldwide sensation, has only days later been nabbed by that same police force on grounds of an unlawful gun infraction in what the police describe as a known drug location. “To decipher some of the police jargon, every location in New York other than St. Patrick’s Cathedral is a ‘known drug location’ as far as the police are concerned,” writes Scott Greenfield [Simple Justice]
“US Patent Office Grants ‘Photography Against A White Background’ Patent To Amazon” [Tim Cushing, TechDirt] Critics suspect there is prior art.
It is now legally safer to record Illinois public servants generally, as well as cops in particular, as they go about their public duties. [Timothy Geigner, TechDirt]
New WSJ op-ed by Eugene Volokh and my colleague Ilya Shapiro, with which I agree 100%: “We support the extension of marriage to same-sex couples. Yet too many who agree with us on that issue think little of subverting the liberties of those who oppose gay marriage. Increasingly, legislative and judicial actions sacrifice individual rights at the altar of antidiscrimination law.” Existing precedent affords a handy if narrow way to reverse New Mexico’s wrong-headed Elane Photography decision: “The Supreme Court’s ruling in Wooley guarantees the right of photographers, writers, actors, painters, actors, and singers to decide which commissions, roles or gigs they take, and which they reject.”
Related on bake-my-cake laws: in the absence of more robust rights to freedom of association, could we at least narrow what’s a public accommodation? [Scott Shackford, Reason; David Link, Independent Gay Forum (on precedent of landlord reluctance to rent to cohabitors] Earlier on photography and cake cases here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, etc.
P.S. Cato podcast with Caleb Brown interviewing Ilya Shapiro on the topic.
In Elane Photography LLC v. Vanessa Willock, the New Mexico Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that a wedding photographer is obliged under the state’s anti-discrimination law to offer its services to two women seeking to record their commitment ceremony, despite its proprietors’ religious objections to the ceremony. The Court was not persuaded by an amicus brief filed by UCLA lawprof Eugene Volokh on behalf of the Cato Institute arguing that the First Amendment protects persons in expressive occupations such as photography from being obliged to create expressive works they don’t want to create. Commentary: Dale Carpenter, Ken at Popehat, Hans Bader, John Fund, Ilya Shapiro/Cato at Liberty, Stephen Richer.
At Utah’s Deseret News, reporter Eric Schulzke writes on how “the U.S. Bill of Rights remains a work in progress 222 years after it became law — a continuing struggle between government claims for order and security, and the individual’s interest in clarity and freedom. This past year, the struggle played out in numerous areas, including free speech and search and seizure rules, to touch just a few.” He quotes me on the hope of bright-line rules establishing the public’s right to take pictures of law enforcement (recent Hawthorne, Calif. cause celebre here), on the need to focus on state and local police use of DNA databases before the inevitable abuses establish themselves, and on how four significant Fourth Amendment cases made it to the Supreme Court this year: “‘Here we are 200 years later, and a lot of big, interesting questions still haven’t been settled on what the Bill of Rights says about search and seizures,’ Olson said.” A sidebar reviews the year in civil liberties controversies.
“Even though I was always on public property when I filmed the horrors I saw outside that slaughterhouse in February, I became the first person charged under one of these ‘ag-gag’ laws.” [Amy Meyer, Washington Post, Utah]
That’s how a lawyer explains his $2 million damage demand on behalf of a Georgia student whose bikini-clad image was used by a school administrator in a presentation about how the Internet is forever, image-wise. [Chris Matyszczyk, CNet] The classic line about how if you want to send a message, use Western Union, will probably need to be retired given the news that the world’s last telegram is due to be sent in India next month. [Christian Science Monitor]
“Hawaii needs to rethink the ‘Steven Tyler Act.’ States can promote the right of privacy while ensuring freedom of speech.” [Josh Blackman/Ilya Shapiro, USA Today]
ABC takes very seriously a complaint filed by a photographic model that Swedish automaker Volvo improperly degraded her image by allowing play-on-words copy into a promotion. She had signed broadly worded releases. [Good Morning America]