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Saturday, 26 February 2011


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The piece that speaks to me the most is third bit. The second one is extremely disappointing that the archives will be destroyed. However what disgusts me even more than that is how little regard most politicians give towards photographers. In the UK it is pretty bad, and I think the U.S. is better off, though not by much as time marches on.

RE Farmland-

If the public sees inhumane treatment of animals, the terrorists win.

I apologize to the rest of humanity for some of the politicians that we have in Florida.

I'm tired of big brother telling me what I can and cannot do. Where & what I can and cannot photograph. What ever happened to "for the people by the people"? Big government is evil.

> I apologize to the rest of humanity for some of the politicians that we have in Florida.

Well Mikal, that's a start. There's a Looney Tunes short in which Bugs Bunny, enraged at the insignificant 2 cent bounty on rabbits, declares war on the US and saws Florida off the continent, with the cry "South America, take it away!"

Works for me.

1) I would take to Amex HQ a bill for $10000. Then snap a photo of the guy you hand it too to see if it matches the Cambodian statue.
2) If you gave away your originals, to a company you thought would never go out of business, you deserve what you get. Not as bad as current 'new age digital' agencies who actually make profit off your photos, but who never pay you, knowing they have sold the photo to a market geographically distant to where you are.
3) I live in Florida, and can do something about this... anyone know of a pig farm near Boca Raton? If this thing passes I want to be the first arrested. "Your honor, the subject was shooting ruminants at close range with a D3, 24-70, and a monolight, I don't think we need to waste the taxpayers money for a trial on this one."

Re the published ad photo: This is why one's work should be copyrighted. Of course this bank found a public domain one and used it without paying royalties.

Surely there must be some museum or archive in France that can take the images. A sad state of affairs if there is none.


Ah, the Florida guy's a nut. There are a few in every legislature, and everybody knows who they are.


Sounds to me like someone, a police office that is, should take a picture of State Senator Jim Norman, a mug shot that is, as this guy IS guilty of taking money for a "favor" to the contributor.

Why else would anyone propose such nonsense?

Jim, you'll look good in stripes.


Re; the third item.

Somehow I don't think 'nincompoop' quite covers it.

Dear A. Dias,

Umm, you're wrong in two ways.

First, any photo you make is automatically covered by copyright that you hold. It's been that way for over 30 years.

Second, if you read the article Mike linked to, you'll find that this fellow intentionally put it online and told folks they could use it any way they wanted. That's what he desired, and he's not at all unhappy with the outcome.

Nobody's copyright got violated, and nobody got ripped off.

pax / Ctein

Yeah, to paraphrase Molly Ivens, wouldn't be a representative body if there weren't a few nuts and morons wandering around, making loud noises.


must have missed that page in the initiative description


On a recent trip to Tamil Nadu in India my brother and I were refused entry to a National Park because we were carrying cameras. Apparently in some parts of India you are not allowed to photograph Forestry and/or Hydro facilities - Dams essentially. Democracies eh!

I've always been confused about building copyright and building release forms. Could a farmer just insist that a field is the same as a stye or a barn and demand permission?


The Florida law would have a hard time trumping the First Amendment.

"An absolute nincompoop of a capitalist-fascist tool" indeed. Those be some fightin' words there Mike! And just to let you know, as my Sunday morning wake up web fix, TOP made me smile.


Just browse the bills introduced by Sen. Jim Norman:
But swallow your coffee first.

Re. the Corbis Sygma affair some background information from their early days can be found here:

Being usually pessimistic about the cultural achievements or even sensibilities of the big corporation, this sad event doesn't surprise me. Of course there is not enough money to save values that cannot be turned into more money within short time.

Justin Watt sounds like he has an excellent story for the web-site: 'You Thought We Wouldn't Notice'. Half an hour reading this web-site, and you wonder why you're in the creative business at all! It seems that the computerization of the creative process has only made it easier for all those scabs in the business we always knew were there to steal everyones stuff...

I've always been confused about building copyright and building release forms. Could a farmer just insist that a field is the same as a stye or a barn and demand permission?

The architectural drawings enjoy copyright protection but not the buildings themselves. If a building is on view from a public space, you can photograph it.

On the subject of the Corbis archives, this reminds me a great deal of a wonderful British film drama by Stephen Poliakoff called 'Shooting the Past' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_the_Past), which was the story of how millions of beautiful archive photos were treated when the developers rolled in. If you get a chance, I highly recommend watching....

@ Steve, re Tamil Nadu,

India imposed a series of blanket / draconian bans on photography from the mid 90s onwards in certain areas in response to bomb attacks by a series of internal terrorist groups: in some cases, the attacks were directly against infrastructure such as dams and power generation facilities. Tamil Nadu was one of the areas affected, as there were many sympathisers of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE, a Sri Lankan separatist group who had many ethnic supporters in Tamil Nadu. In addition, the Tamil Nadu Liberation Army made a series of small-scale attacks in Tamil Nadu itself during the 90s). I have no way of knowing if the ban in your case was related to this, but it's a good place to start investigating if you are interested.


> Umm, you're wrong in two ways.

I'm OK being wrong. I guess I missed the author's glow in seeing his photo published for commercial benefit, without compensation. All photographers should now make their work public domain. I suppose their food-on-the-table will also be freely obtained. :)

On a visit to Angkor 3 years ago I had a close encounter with the "Most Tourists Take Pictures from the Same Spot" problem. As a result of my frustration, then action I got a standing ovation at Ta Prom temple.

Ta Prom is one of the most visited temples at Angkor, and its draw, which certainly captured my imagination, is that it has been left largely unreconstructed. The roots of huge kapok trees snake over and around the stone structures, while, of course, prying them apart.

One of the most famous, and most photographed, locations at Ta Prom also happens to make an ideal frame for tourists to pose and have their photo taken. I had returned to this site in the late afternoon, because the morning light had not worked at all, and, with the faint hope that the traffic might have died off a little, just an hour before sunset. Ha! Even on the first of my three days here the number of Chinese tourists was notable, but by yesterday it had become an inundation .

As I entered the particular courtyard of the temple where this famous root grows, I was confronted with this scene - a waiting room of people, in a haze of dust and mounting frustration, most of whom were just jockeying for their moment to pose themselves or family members or friends, or more likely some permutations and combinations of those. All I wanted to do was make my shot, sans people, which would not take long, but, while the snap-shooters were being reasonably orderly and considerate, in keeping out of each others' way, (especially for Chinese, but then this was not your common train station rabble of migrant workers here on tour at Angkor), there was not a millisecond left free of people clambering around for position or a pose.

I could see where this was going - nowhere at all for me - so I edged my way to the front and when the moment presented itself stepped into the center, snapped a few frames of the milling crowd, then, while some fellow tourist/photographers were madly waving me aside, I shouted out, "if anyone wants to take a photo with NO-ONE in it, NOW is your chance", and leapt back into the crowd, to cheers and applause, to try to get a shot in. Eager Chinese of course immediately tried to fill the vacuum, but I think some of their English speaking compatriots picked up on the mood and held them back for a few minutes.

What I got was hardly a carefully considered or original shot, but it was a prize of sorts, after all.

At the risk of sounding like Andy Rooney, why do politicians always think the answer to whatever problem they are addressing is to pass a new law? Is there a loophole in Florida's existing trespass statute(s) that causes it not to apply to this issue?

For better or worse, property developers tear down the old building before they replace it with a new one ... perhaps politicians should take their lead from them and repeal an existing statute before they add yet another new one? Sheesh...

A great piece of commentary on the Floridian state of mind, is Loudon Wainwright's song and video "Florida." Be sure to see the long version. A brilliant piece of satirical lyric.

Hi Steve Smith,

I'm not sure of all the facts associated with photographing public buildings. I'm pretty well versed in copyright law, but a few years ago, there were people trying to do an 'end-run' around the law by stating the 'look' of their building was in their copyrighted logo, therefore you couldn't photograph it with the intent of selling it. I never knew what happened with this, I shamedly didn't keep up at the time; going through too much in life. The Milwaukee Art Museum has tried this tact with their Calatrava, which is also in their logo.

While it was true that you can virtually photograph any building or property (even private), as long as you're doing it from public property, I'm not sure what the ramifications are of trying to sell a photograph of that. As in anything today, if an organization with deep pockets decides to challenge your right to do so, it may end up as 'defacto' censorship based on the inability for you to defend it in court with your 'little' pockets.

John Camp-
It used to be true that most State legislatures in the U.S. had a few members who were simply batty. Fortunately they were a tiny minority, and the looney bills they introduced would be safely quashed by their saner bretheren before too much damage was done.

That's no longer the case. The perfect storm of computer-assisted gerrymandering, a supine 'free press' and the outright manufacture and sponsorship of candidates by corporations has changed everything. Many U.S. State legislatures are now chock full of crazy members. And I do mean 'howling at the moon' crazy. This explains the recent wave of maniacal legislation encouraging people to carry concealed firearms in school and in church, attempts to 'nullify' Federal law, and bills encouraging the murder of abortion providers by providing an 'affirmative defence' to their killers. (Defending the lives of fetuses, dontcha know). Grim times.

I think this proposed law is quite outrageous; however, I can say so without calling names.

I wonder how a country like the US would fare if they had a system like Switzerland, where any citizen can have a legislative proposal put to a referendum if they collect enough signatures supporting it (50,000).

there were people trying to do an 'end-run' around the law by stating the 'look' of their building was in their copyrighted logo

That would only give copy protection to the logo artwork, not the building itself.

if an organization with deep pockets decides to challenge your right to do so, it may end up as 'defacto' censorship based on the inability for you to defend it in court with your 'little' pockets.

You can represent yourself at no cost. That's what I would do.

From this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_in_architecture_in_the_United_States

an “architectural work” does not include the right to prevent the making, distributing, or public display of pictures, photographs, or other pictorial representations of the work.

The thing about the crackpot in Florida is not what he wants to do but why. He wants to prevent photography of farmland NOT to annoy photographers, he wants to prevent journalists/investigators from uncovering embarrassing or possibly illegal things. The irony is too, well, "ironic", isn't it. I bet if you asked this guy, he'd categorize himself as a staunch defender of liberty, democracy and freedom, but I may be putting words in his mouth.

Friends of mine and I have been joking lately about when the grass roots uprising among the populations in various middle eastern countries against their governments will start happening in the western democracies. What they taught me in school was that elected officials are supposed to represent the people that elected them, all too often they represent various self-serving lobby groups. It's a mystery why we put up with it.

For a good example of citizen initiatives run amok, look at California. Of course, the bar to entry is low there. However, raising the bar just means corporations will dominate the discussion even more (they have the money).

Geoff, are you referring to the attempts in some states to remove schools and churches from the list legally-mandated unarmed victim zones?

This is idiocy escalation.

I can imagine how the idea came about: "animal right" groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and Animal Freedom display undercover videos on their web sites to make their case that livestock farming and meat consumption are cruel.

But idiotic actions by one group does not warrant such an idiotic proposal by any lawmaker. I could see the point of debating whether there should be civil penalties for entering a farm for such false purposes (although existing trespass and libel laws probably are sufficient,) but this certainly is not a criminal manner. And further, the proposed prohibition of photography of a farm from public property is clearly not legal.

BTW, doing some further looking, the Republicans in this guy Norman's district tried and succeeded in getting him removed from the ballot last year because of ethics problems. Votes for him were supposed to be counted for an alternate Republican candidate. Somehow, he was reinstated at the last minute, so people probably thought they were voting for the other guy ended up voting for him. Whoops!

What they taught me in school was that elected officials are supposed to represent the people that elected them

My fathert used to state that they were our servants, not our masters.

A. Dias:

> I suppose their food-on-the-table will also be freely obtained.

I know this was intended as sarcasm, but I thought I'd at least add my two cents.

At the time I took that photo, photography was a hobby of mine, not a profession, as it is for millions of people. I was more interested in the idea of unencumbering people from copyright so they could use my photos in interesting ways. Sometimes I get a small bank in Cambodia using my photo (in which case I would have appreciated attribution, though very likely refused compensation), other times I get someone using my photos as the basis for a series of paintings:


Coupling the internet with photography has certainly been disruptive, but it's also created a whole world of new opportunities and possibilities. But just like in the case of journalism, things won't be the same as they were.

The list goes on and on.

These are just from the half-hour local news today:

Nevada and Utah have decided they need to have a "State Gun", the way other states have "State Flowers"

A legislator in Wisconsin has just proposed a law making the placing of prank calls a felony.

(For our non-American friends: it's way too hard to explain. Google "Governor Scott Walker prank call". )

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