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  #1  
Old February 9th, 2008, 05:27 PM
Gustavo Castilla Gustavo Castilla is offline
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This is specifically an email for those photographers and models who are living in the United
States. We all need to unite against a law that was just passed in August 2007 concerning National
Parks. I've detailed it here:

All photographers here need to complain about a law that was just passed in the legislature that
violates the 1st Amendment of the Constitution concerning photographing in National Parks. I am
asking everyone here to call, write, email (all of that) thier House Representatives and Senators and
complain about:

http://www.fws.gov/policy/library/E7-15845.html

Law - 36 CFR Part 5, Section 5.3 which states (please see the part that concerns "visitors"):
Section 5.3 When do I need a permit for commercial filming or still photography?

Public Law 106-206 augments previous statutes for authorizing commercial filming and still
photography activities and provides protections for the affected Federal lands. The law clarifies the
requirements for commercial filming and still photography permits and establishes limitations for
filming activities. While commercial filming and still photography are activities generally allowed
on Federal lands, in many circumstances it is in the Government's interest to manage the activity
through a permitting process to minimize the possibility of damage to the cultural or natural
resources or interference with other visitors to the area. A person seeking a permit should contact the
manager of the site for which the permit is sought to learn how and where to apply.
All commercial filming on lands under DOI jurisdiction requires a permit. This section details
those instances and lists specific criteria that trigger the need for a still photography permit,
such as the use of models, sets, or props or requesting access to an area to photograph which is, at
that time, not open to the general public. While filming and still photography activities by
visitors (as opposed to commercial filmmakers or commercial photographers) generally do not require a
permit, this section details those instances and lists specific criteria that trigger the need for
a filming or still photography permit. These criteria include the use of models, sets, or props or
requesting access to an area to film or photograph which is, at that time, not open to the
general public. News coverage also does not need a permit, but is subject to time, place, and manner
restriction, if warranted, to maintain order and ensure the safety of the public and the media, and
protect na!
tural and cultural resources.
---------

You can look up your House representative by using this link:

http://whoismyrepresentative.com/

And you can find your Senator here:

http://www.senate.gov/general/contac...nators_cfm.cfm

Topics to hit on:

I was photographing a friend and was asked to stop.

I was asked for 1 million dollars in liability insurance to photograph my friend.

I was threatened with having my film gear and my film confiscated.

I was asked to apply for a permit.

What constitutes a "model?" What constitutes "props?"

Why are artists being targeted?

----------

Thank you in advance for being united against this law that violates our 1st Amendment. Numbers
matter... the more calls our Representatives and Senators receive the faster we are on their minds.

Sincerely,

Zoe Wiseman
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  #2  
Old February 11th, 2008, 03:26 PM
Colleen Vermillion Colleen Vermillion is offline
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I believe this is overreacting to a perfectly legitimate need to regulate some activities on public lands. Our national parks aren't just wild areas that are fenced off and unmaintained. There is a certain cost associated with maintaining the parks so that everyone can enjoy them that the tax payers support. I don't think it is unreasonable to expect folks that want to use public lands for "special purposes" to pay a fee and get insurance just in case some damage or injury happens. I would rather my tax monies go toward improving visitor facilities than repairing damage done by photographers co-opting public lands as their studio.

You need a permit when you
* Use models, sets or props that are not part of the site’s natural or cultural resources or administrative facilities;
* Take place where members of the public are generally not allowed; or
* Take place at a location where additional administrative costs are likely.

The goal of the rules is apparently to allow any visitor of the park whether they're a pro photographer or not to take pictures as long as they fall within the "typical" use of the park and to recover costs from folks who do things that that cause extra maintenance or have the potential to damage the site. I found some of the public submissions pretty interesting, particularly the first one in that list. By all means, do contact your representatives and let them know what is important to you, otherwise our (US) system doesn't work properly. My "I'm not a lawyer" view is that you can't expect the DOI to allow you to go stomping on sea turtle nests just because you've got a camera around your neck and a right to free speech. And yes I know that no OPF person would ever do such a thing, I'm exaggerating to make a point. Until we get official OPF t-shirts and such how are the park rangers to know it's us?

-Colleen
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  #3  
Old February 11th, 2008, 03:58 PM
Charles L Webster Charles L Webster is offline
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+ 1 Colleen

I agree with your assessment completely.
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  #4  
Old February 11th, 2008, 04:20 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Collene and Charles,

I wan't going to reply since it seemed obvious to me as your responses also appear correct on first blush! Yes there's a paradox but we can look at this in terms of freedom of expression and risk to the environment.

Public lands need to be protected. Is a Lumedyne portable Flash a prop, and what way is a model different that Aunt Minnie who anyway weighs 180 lb as opposed to the models 110 lb and for sure will trample more grasses?

If Joe 6-pack can arrive with his extended uncontrolled family, why not a photographer with several models? The family can take with two dogs while we are not allowed to take a canvas backgrop which will not poop or chase after endangered species!

I don't like big government encroaching on the rights of citizens. Small shoots of no more impact than the family or boy scouts troop or school class, should be able to have the same rights. This is in fact, to me at least, a matter of expression of free speech. The government is saying that a hoard of teenagers can yell and romp around to the joys of nature but we can't contemplate the same nature and record that expression in film.

What the government is doing is legistlating against our type of speech: photography.

As long as the impact is no different from other groups, photgraphers shouldn't be singled out. Limits that are defined would be O.K. if applied to everyone equally.

Asher
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  #5  
Old February 11th, 2008, 06:13 PM
Colleen Vermillion Colleen Vermillion is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
What the government is doing is legistlating against our type of speech: photography.

As long as the impact is no different from other groups, photgraphers shouldn't be singled out. Limits that are defined would be O.K. if applied to everyone equally.
I disagree that photographers are being unfairly singled out. The rules that were laid out seem like the restriction is limited to people that are going to have more impact than your typical tourist. We keep reading "models" as people, but it could easily mean an object since it is listed with sets and props. Are you sure that doesn't mean plopping a model of a crashed helicopter in a field? There are other rules against trashing national parks and restricted areas and such, and the park rangers are full fledged police that can and do take action against everyone from litter bugs to violent poachers. Joe with his six pack and rowdy kids fall under a different set of regulations, but they are regulated. You should see the agreements you have to sign to camp in some parks.

What the permit system does is allow responsible commercial photography on public lands (only one of many "special uses" in the regulations) and attempt to make the fees and permit process fair and consistent across all public lands even though they might be managed by different departments. If there were no permit process, photographers wouldn't be able to arrange to go into non-public areas for a fee and would be restricted to all the same activities that the typical tourist could do. So the choice would then be to restrict all activities that add additional maintenance costs and everyone suffers, or charge everyone a large fee to use the public space and the people who don't have a big impact get to pay for the folks that do, or let people do whatever they want and just accept that we're not going to have the money to maintain it. I think the permit system is the best option as long as it's applied fairly.

Some people see any regulation as a restriction and a negative thing, but we accept little restrictions on our individual freedoms so that as a whole our society can be more free. We don't help ourselves to other people's stuff, we don't drive on whichever side of the road we want to, we get permits to hold rallies and protests, etc. there are thousands of little restrictions that we accept as necessary so that we can all live together. I'm sure that there are incidents where a park employee that was either poorly trained or just plain wrong and didn't apply the rules correctly or used bad judgment, but there is a recourse in either lodging a complaint with the person's superior, or if it's really out of hand, filing suit. Getting rid of the permits would be tossing the baby out with the bathwater.

-Colleen
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  #6  
Old February 11th, 2008, 06:16 PM
Shane Carter Shane Carter is offline
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This is not bothering me. I'm suprised it is not already the norm. You cannot set up a commercial sh0ot in many national parks now...you can't set up a commerical shoot on the Mall for example without a permit.

The difference between kids gone wild in a park is that they are stopped if that is observed. Commerical shoots don't stay on the paths, they tromp out into the area where no people go...generally because they are not allowed to. My brother in law is a higher up guy at the Maryland Park Service and they (couple of years ago now) had a movie crew go into a park and make a mess of the grounds where they were. No permit, no asking, no permission...just a sense of entitlement to do whatever they wanted because it was a 'public park.' They let it go because there were no rules about it at the time, but it cost the taxpayer quite a bit to clean up the mess they left.

There was also a recent case of a photog (who I'll not mention the name) that would go into certain areas of national parks and 'manipulate' the scene to get the shot he wanted. In the process, he damaged property. As a professional, getting permits is standard practice for many kinds of shooting and nothing unusal.

My guess, and its only a guess, is that this is a response to a growing number of commercial photogs that pushed the limits of common sense too far. If you read the responses in the link above, park rangers are happy to have some guidance here.

Noramlly these kinds of regs are not done for no reason but as a reponse to situations that are abusive that cannot be stopped with current code. Most likely this is a result of 'professional photographers' acting in a less than professional manner and now, we all have new code to follow.

But if you are shooting on location, it can be a big deal. Stands, lights, powerpack(s), batteries, flags, scrimms, many people and on it goes. Just me alone, the last outside shoot was without any power at all, but I had three stands plus weights, scrim, flag and reflector, camera bag(s), subject, myself...and permission. I did not make a mess, but it is easy to see how a big setup could do so.

So any way, I appreciate the discussion but won't be calling my representatives.
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  #7  
Old February 11th, 2008, 06:20 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Colleen,

There's no issue with some protection for our parks. However a professional camera and reflector is not a hazard to the park or a white muslin diffuser is not going to ruin anything. The laws related above are too broad. do not relate to risk levels and have no resonable way of applying except at the discretion, at best, (or whim, in some cases) of park rangers.

Asher
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  #8  
Old February 11th, 2008, 06:29 PM
Colleen Vermillion Colleen Vermillion is offline
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You have to write laws broadly enough to leave it up to discretion. You can't foresee every situation, and as soon as you write out your list of thirty thousand approved devices, someone comes out with something else new and low impact and some miscreant figures out how to take an approved device and kill song birds with it. You also need to look at the glass half full perspective - when discretion is involved, you might be able to talk to a reasonable ranger and do something that he might require other people to go get a permit for simply because he's comfortable that you aren't going to do any damage.

-Colleen
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