A couple weeks ago we reported that a lawmaker in Florida was trying to make photographing farms a felony. Turns out the Florida Senate Committee on Agriculture actually approved the bill this week, but only after passing a couple amendments that make the bill a little more reasonable. The new version of the bill only concerns photographs taken by people who trespass onto the private farmland, and instead of a felony the crime will now be a misdemeanor. Whew.
A bill recently introduced by Florida state senator Jim Norman would, if passed, making taking pictures of farms a felony unless permission is granted by the owner.
A person who photographs, video records or otherwise produces images or pictorial records, digital or otherwise, at or of a farm or other property where legitimate agriculture operations are being conducted without the written consent of the owner, or an authorized representative of the owner, commits a felony of the first degree. [#]
Apparently the bill is meant to deter animal rights activists from secretly posing as farmworkers to make hidden camera videos of animals being abused. Needless to say, a lot of photographers aren’t very pleased.
There’s an increasingly overwhelming sense of frustration coming from the Gulf region, but this time, it’s coming from photographers and journalists. Media access has been tough since the beginning of the oil spill, whether on land, on beaches, or in the air. According to a new safety zone rule passed down from the US government, reporters and photographers are not allowed within 20 meters of booms, boom operations, and other cleanup activities, except with the express permission of the US Coast Guard. CNN’s Anderson Cooper reports that the limit was originally 300 feet, but it was reduced to 65 feet.
But to complicate matters, under the new rule, anyone found “willfully” in violation of the rule would be fined $40,000 and charged with a Class D felony. Class D felonies typically carry a jail sentence. The law especially affects photographers in the area who need to be on site in order to properly cover the events.