I wrote about Florida state Senator Jim Norman and his proposed law in that state to ban all photography on agricultural sites, farms, ranches, orchards, etc., without written consent of the farmer.  It appears that Mr. Norman has backed down just a bit on the law and made some changes to it.  The St. Petersburg Times has also written in more detail about the true motive behind the bill that I speculated on in m y original post.

In the original draft, photographing a farm or other agriculture site without written permission of the farmer or their representative was be a felony.  That puts it up there with rape and murder.  Where those photographs were taken from was also not up for debate in the original version.  That means even if you were standing on a public street when you took your photograph, not on the farmer’s property, you would be committing a felony.  It is widely know that photos taken from public sidewalks, streets, etc. of privately owned buildings and what not are perfectly legal to take.  A federal court even ruled recently that federal buildings and courthouses were not exempt from this rule.

In his scaled back version Norman graciously agreed to make it a misdemeanor rather than a felony and distinguished between photos taken on the farmer’s property and taken from public property or the air.  Those are a good start.  But the real issue is why such a law is even being pursued in the first place.  This is not because paparazzi are stalking the farmer’s daughters.  As the St. Pertersburg Times quoted one advocate for the bill, they

“…fears activists will invade Florida farms and gather footage for public campaigns to replicate a 2008 California constitutional amendment that bans confinement of animals where they can’t stand, sit, lie down, turn around and stretch their limbs…”

Basically, if something inhumane is happening on Florida farms Senator Jim Norman wants to make sure the public doesn’t find out about it and have a chance to change it.  The changes he has made to the bill make it less of a photographer’s rights issue but also brings out the true motives behind the bill.   Now I think the animal rights side takes precedence.

Leave a comment

Name: (Required)

E-mail: (Required)