By guest blogger Michael Albany
In the past few months there has been legislation introduced in a number of states that will virtually outlaw photography. The first bill that I learned about is New Hampshire HB 619-FN that states, “This bill prohibits images of a person’s residence to be taken from the air by a satellite, drone, or any device not supported by the ground.” Here is the bill as introduced. Although there are few photography enthusiasts that do any type of aerial photography, there are a number of professionals that make their living in just this manner.
This particular bill raised quite the stir in a number of professional forums. The former president of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) Jim Cavanaugh wrote directly to Representative Kurk of the New Hampshire State House stating how this bill would, “prevent many businesses from obtaining aerial photographs that they routinely use in their businesses. This may be construction documentation, road planning, news gathering, urban planning, images for companies’ marketing use, crowd estimation, environmental documentation, airport planning, wetland conservation, tourism and many others.”
In this case the representative agreed to edit his proposal in a way that would be more specific and less far reaching. That is democracy in action and is a great compromise. The problem is that it isn’t the only legislation being introduced.
Yesterday I was reading my local news source and came across new legislation proposed in Pennsylvania that would make photographing a farm a felony offense. A felony!? Really? State House Representative Haluska (R-Cambria County) put forth a proposal that would make it a felony to take photos or record video or audio. I’m sorry but for me, this is just a bit of overkill and a true example of overlegislation.
In New Hampshire the bill proposed had limited scope in that it would most likely only effect professionals. Rep. Haluska’s proposal would affect enthusiasts, real estate photographers, nature photographers, aerial photographers, and just about anyone that wanted to just capture an image of a beautiful landscape. The effect on tourism alone could be devastating!
Haluska stated that the idea for his proposal came from farmers in his district who are afraid of people trying to photograph or record farm operations and show them in a less than flattering way. He was quoted on NewsWorks.org (full article) as saying, “Sometimes you can take some things out of context, if you have a sick animal or something or if you have to (kill) an animal, which is just a normal part of doing business in the farming community, and sometimes it gets trumped up.”
To me making photographing a farm a felony is a bit extreme and an overreaction. Do we really have a large enough group of farmers that are doing their jobs, having their business interrupted by some type of activists photographing daily farm processes?
Keep an eye open in your state and make sure that legislation against photography isn’t pending. If you don’t you may be hearing the click of hand cuffs right after the click of that shutter.
We are curious how you feel about this Felony Photography issue that popped out of nowhere. Let us know.
Michael Albany is a Portrait and Architectural from Philadelphia. You can read more of his articles on his website www.michaelalbany.com.