Your freedoms are under direct assault in Arkansas.
"SB-79 would require still and motion photographers to get explicit written consent to include any individual’s likeness—not just celebrities but anyone—in a photograph that is used for virtually any purpose within the state of Arkansas except those uses specifically exempted as Fair Use within the bill.
"The implications of this bill are staggering. For example, an image showing recognizable people posted to the Internet for a use that would not require written consent anywhere else in the world could leave you open to a lawsuit just because someone in Arkansas could view it online."
A bill well worth opposing, as the ASMP, MPAA, DMLA, NPPA and other photographers' associations are doing. But wouldn't it be nicer if State governments weren't stuffed with dimwits to begin with? I'd better not say any more.
You might want to read this. We should all read it. And yes, it would be so much nicer if we didn't have to.
UPDATE: A reader from Northwest Arkansas, Norm Snyder, writes to say: "What is frightening is that this effort is sincere. If the governor does not veto the bill by tomorrow [3/31/15], it will become law. With respect to the legislation involving permitting the shunning of individuals who are identified as gay by restaurant owners on the basis of the owners' religious beliefs, the governor chose not to sign the bill, rather than veto it, which meant it became law without his signature. Lots of folks need to write letters/e-mails, etc." Please see the Comments section for the rest of Norm's comment.
(Thanks to C.Rosenthal)
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
tex andrews: "The inherent evils of this 'law' are embedded in U.S. law generally at the current time, to wit: In the U.S. federal/state sytem, states get to draw up all manner of idiotic statutes without really considering the national or interstate commerce ramifications of the 'law'—there's nothing stopping them but their governors or attorney generals (in some cases).
"That #1 bit wouldn't be such a problem, IF U.S. tort law wasn't so fouled up. So, yes, this law will be found to be unconstitutional is passed, eventually. But meanwhile, anyone sued under this 'law' is still going to be one the hook for legal expenses, even if eventually exonerated. There's your rub. So, in addition to signing petitions/sending letters, I recommend finding out who sponsored this 'bill' and then to pillory that idiot online and in the media, social or otherwise. Otherwise they'll just try something equally stupid in the future. Ridicule is a powerful tool."
Manuel: "Portugal, my country, lived under a fascist-inspired dictatorship from 1933 to 1974. Yet in 1967 a new Civil Code was promulgated, which project had been drafted by some of the most prominent law teachers of the time. Under portuguese Civil Code's provisions on individual rights, the need for consent - which can be tacitly granted - is the general rule. However, one is entitled to photograph people in public places without the latter's consent; the unnecessity of consent also applies when photographing celebrities and, in general, whenever the photograph serves 'cultural,' didactic or scientific purposes—as long as no offence to the individual rights of the 'portrayed' person results from the picture.
"Comparing this statute to the Arkansas Senate Bill 79 without knowing their respective provenance, you would be forgiven to misguess which one was produced under a fascist-inspired dictatorship."
Gato: "As a photographer I am convinced it is time for some law on this. Maybe the Arkansas law does not get it right, but it is time to protect the individual's privacy. In an age where anyone who slips on the ice can be subject to worldwide humiliation and ridicule in a matter of hours we need to set some limits."
Ben Wilkes replies to Gato: "Nope. Sorry if you are humiliated, but the subject of a photo doesn't get to decide what's newsworthy. Even more so if they are merely a bystander who is captured along with an event. You should be able to control the commercial use of your likeness, and prevent defamation (or be compensated) if the photo is manipulated to show something untrue. But other than that, prior restraint is much more dangerous than humiliation."
Mike adds: Here's a humorous take on why we don't allow the subjects of pictures to approve them:
<p><iframe width="470" height="264" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Cq87VgIfat4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Jim Simmons: "I have some skin in this game. I have reached an agreement with the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History in Springdale, Arkansas, for an exhibition of a set of photographs I shot in Arkansas in the mid-1970s. The subjects were people living deep in the backwoods of the Ozarks. Some were college graduates who'd chosen to retreat from modern society, and some were folks who'd lived away from society for generations.
"An initial element of the exhibition discussions with the museum was around the fact that I did not have releases from my subjects, and they were at first reluctant to use any photos with recognizable people. Once I explained to them that part of my technique of engagement with people was that although I introduced myself and my intent (a photographic record of people living deep deep in the Ozarks), I did not require people to tell me who they were or treat them as I might have if I were a journalist, gathering names and facts. This would have made some people nervous or suspicious, and would have limited their willingness to engage with me. Every photo taken had tacit permission. I think the museum was concerned with both lawsuits and with respect for the individuals. Eventually, they recognized that the images themselves demonstrated that respect, and they decided to brave the legal aspects and organize the show as planned.
"I am concerned that if this law passes, they may reconsider their position. Which would be a real loss for the community, as this collection is truly unlike what other photographers were doing at the time. The photographs are currently sitting in boxes with me in New Zealand, and they really need to be part of the public record in Arkansas."
[Some of the Ozarks photographs can be seen on Jim's website. Ed.]