Subtitled "To restore the First Amendment Rights of Photographers."
A bill introduced by Steve Stockman (Republican from Texas) in the U.S. House of Representatives on January 2nd.
Read it here. Won't take you long—it's short.
(Thanks to Jim Hughes)
UPDATE: It turns out that this bill was introduced on Jan. 2 and Rep. Stockman's last day in Congress was Jan. 3rd, which is also the first day of the 114th Congress. So the bill either needs to be reintroduced by someone else in the new Congress or it's already dead, since bills cannot be carried over from one Congress to the next prior to being signed into law.
Thanks to my friend Bruce Katz for clarifying this. —Mike the Ed.
P.S. Learning this does make me very curious, though—do exiting members of Congress do this sort of thing regularly, and, if so, what's the point?
Original contents copyright 2014 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Ben: "I wonder if this 'Ansel Adams Bill' might have anything to do with this. Others would know the law better than I.... Anyway I would be surprised if the law doesn't increase significantly in length before it gets out of committee."
Mark Hespenheide: "Interesting. But I'm in favor of charging for commercial-use photography on public lands. I previously lived near Sedona, Arizona and came across some commercial full-scale photo shoots for new SUVs. They were a big production and intrusion. I'd hate to see a flurry of similar actions in Yosemite, Yellowstone, Canyonlands, etc.
"If we're talking about commercial use that has at least a potential to impact the resource, I think it's entirely appropriate to charge for permitting. As a photographer, you either pass those charges on to your client, or shoot somewhere else."
Gene Forsythe: "I am sure that many readers will jump on this as a positive action. I tend to disagree, for at least two reasons: First, the two exclusions in the bill allow security personnel to continue to act in just the way that they do now...threaten to stop photography or actually confiscate photography because it 'might' be related to potential terrorist activity. Second, the absolute prohibition on charging fees for commercial photography means that the taxpayer will be forced to pay the costs of private commercial movies and photographers who wish to use public lands in a manner that requires assistance and support from the responsible agency overseeing the land or buildings. We currently have acceptable and rational permit systems that require those commercial activities to pay for their costs, and that should continue."
Peter Lewin: "Simply excluding commercial photography and filming from the class covered by the bill would make it easy to support with enthusiasm. As it is written, it is hard to tell whether the bill is meant at giving photographers more freedom, or if it is a giveaway aimed at commercial businesses."
Geoff Wittig: "If you're a devoted amateur landscape photographer who's been hassled by Park Service employees in the past because you used a tripod, don't be fooled. This bill is not meant for you. Instead it's yet another subsidy to giant corporations, courtesy of the Republicans in Congress.
"The whole point of this bill is to forbid the Park Service from charging big advertising firms and their wealthy corporate clients any fees for their exploitation of our common property—the National Parks—in advertising campaigns.
"The Park Service is already billions of dollars behind on maintenance due to massive and relentless budget cuts dating back to the 1980s. Anyone who has visited the National Parks over that period of time has seen how shabby many of them have become as a result of this intentional, almost vindictive, defunding. Fees for commercial usage for corporate advertising provided one of the few alternate sources of funding for the Park Service. Now Rep. Stockman wants to further impoverish the Park Service by eliminating this revenue source, and, in a lovely Orwellian twist, puts Ansel Adams's name on it! That's like naming a bill to drown baby Chimpanzees after Jane Goodall."
Mike replies: I tried to find a YouTube clip of comedian Kathleen Madigan's bit about how, if she were in Congress, she'd name every bill the "Be Nice To Retarded People Bill." "I dare you to vote against that. And then if you run for re-election, I come out and make that one commercial, and go, 'look, I don't want to have to bring this up, but my opponent voted against being nice to retarded people....'"
Art Gross: "I'm a little surprised at the concerns photographers are voicing over this bill. Fees for photography in national parks are a pretty recent thing, and I don't remember there being a huge concern about commercial projects being a great threat to these resources. Even if there's no fee charged, there are still prohibitions on causing damage to a park. On the flip side, there seems to be an increasing problem with authorities both public and private trying to make photography in all sorts of public venues difficult or even illegal. Although photography around defense infrastructure may still be prohibited (which has pretty much always been the case), it sounds like this would apply to most photography in public areas. I would err on the side of photographers rights, so that sounds like a positive to me."
BH: "I was recently driving through the wonderful Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada. I'd never been in the area before, so I took a day to explore and photograph. For the most part it was a wonderful day.
"As I drove through the Park, in which I'd seen very few people, I came across a police officer blocking the road. He stopped me and told me to wait. He then got on the radio, talked with someone, came back and told me to hold on a few minutes. I figured maybe someone was on the run and they were scanning any vehicles that came through the area. After a couple of minutes he told me I was free to proceed, and I drove on. Soon I came upon a group of what had to be about twenty people, with various different types of unmarked cars and trucks, a load of camera equipment, and what I can only assume was some kind of concept car they had hidden under a tarp. They took up an entire designated parking stop in the park, and when I asked a man if I could park in order to get out and explore the area, I was told I had to park further on. I continued to the final parking lot, at the mouth of which was stationed another police officer.
"I got out of my car and went exploring and took some photographs I was very happy with. I didn't fail to notice the men with two way radios on top of the rock formations, stationed there to make sure you didn't walk over to the other side and take a peek at whatever magical vehicle was under that tarp.
"When I left the officer stopped me and I waited about five minutes before I was allowed to proceed. I assume they had to get the tarp on the car again before I drove by. As I passed the film crew and the covered vehicle, they all waved to me nicely and said hello.
"It cost me $10 to visit this Park, alone, for my own personal enjoyment. I can't see why a massive company with deep pockets shouldn't have to pay a decent fee for their intrusive use of public lands. To be honest it really ticked me off that I couldn't see everything in the park, and I made a modest effort to hike my way around the giant rock formations to get a peek at that car, just to spite them. I failed not because their security team caught me, but because my own fatness was no match for the monolithic rock formations of the Nevada desert."