Along with many other, including my friend Jack Neubart, I’ve written about encounters with law enforcement over making photographs in public places. It seemed like photography was being treated as a crime and photographers as terrorists and it also seemed that wee didn’t have any friends that could help until now. On January 2, 2015 Steve Stockman (R Texas) introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives includes the below words that describes some of the situations that many us have encountered and seeks to protect the work of photographers under the 1st Amendment on the Constitution.
Part of the bill states that:
- a) It is contrary to the public policy of the United States to prohibit or restrict photography in public spaces, whether for private, news media, or commercial use.
- (b) Should a Federal agency seek to restrict photography of its installations or personnel, it shall obtain a court order that outlines the national security or other reasons for the restriction…
- (c) Prohibition on Fees, Permits, or Insurance.–No Federal Government agency shall require fees, permits or insurance as a condition to take still or moving images on Federal lands, National Parks and Forests, and public spaces, whether for private, media, or commercial use. You can read the full text of the bill (it’s quite short) here.
Please contact your congressperson and ask them to support this bill. Here is a list of representatives, including their phone numbers.
In the meantime, Bert P. Krages II attorney at law has developed a one-page flyer containing information on what your rights are when stopped and confronted by authorities. As the author of Legal Handbook for Photographers. Mr. Krages is knowledgeable about photographer’s rights and I would like to thank him for producing a document that explains your rights and legal remedies if harassed but more importantly how to handle these kinds of confrontations. Print a copy and keep it in your camera bag—just in case.