Cow Pictures Soon To Be Illegal

RyanSRyanS Always LearningPosts: 507Registered Users Major grins
edited March 8, 2012 in The Big Picture
UPDATE: This law passed. In post #20 below I explain the final version, although I am not a lawyer.

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/money/53577671-79/bill-animal-public-lands.html.csp

Summary: Taking pictures or sound recordings of an agricultural operation in Utah could soon be a class A misdemeanor under a new law expected to pass the state legislature. People would be in violation if they are on the property where the agricultural operation is taking place. Subjects off-limits include "crops, orchards, aquaculture, livestock, poultry, livestock products, or poultry products, and the facilities, equipment, or property used to facilitate the commercial production." A second offense would be considered a felony.

This seems like a slippery slope. They are considering picture taking equivalent to interrupting an agriculture operation. How does capturing photons flying through the air interrupt operations? Why don't trespassing laws already cover this? Which industry is going to get a special law next?

Notice the law does not say private property. Leaving it open means any property. In many states it is quite common for agricultural operations to take place on public leased land. Walking through the forest you stumble upon a cow. Take a picture of it, go to jail? Utah has a long history of exporting its legislation to other states. You may have a law like this in your state some day. You might possibly care.

I've taken several images this year alone that would possibly qualify as violating the proposed law. There are quite a few agricultural operations around me. Property is often not fenced. It can be really unclear where public easements end and private property begins. Even if I were on public property and took a photo, using a telephoto lens may make it appear as though I was standing on the property. How would that look in court?

There are many questions I'm dying for some intrepid lawyer to answer. Perhaps you folks can think of why this is bad. Or perhaps you think it is no big deal. Either way, would love to hear your thoughts.

Two pictures that will soon be illegal for me to take again. Here I am, clearly interrupting the operations of a farm. I should go to jail! I'm a FELON with a camera!

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Comments

  • RichardRichard Mildly bemused Madrid, SpainPosts: 17,530Administrators, Vanilla Admin moderator
    edited February 29, 2012
    My guess is that there's very little chance this law will survive judicial scrutiny.
  • kdogkdog artistically challenged San Jose, CAPosts: 11,000Administrators moderator
    edited February 29, 2012
    Richard wrote: »
    My guess is that there's very little chance this law will survive judicial scrutiny.

    15524779-Ti.gif It's a clear violation of 1st amendment rights.

    I hope Utah voters will remember the author of asinine bill, Rep. John Mathis. I bet if you followed the money, you'd find some hefty campaign contributions from big Ag. There can be no other logical explanation for such stupidity.
  • RyanSRyanS Always Learning Posts: 507Registered Users Major grins
    edited February 29, 2012
    I don't see how this is a clear violation of 1st amendment rights at all. Especially now that some important changes have occurred in the Utah Senate version. Two new requirements.

    - You have to be guilty of trespassing. I think this will remove all the concern around easements, public land, etc. This provision essentially guts the wacky part of the bill. Glad to see the Utah senate is a bit more level headed.
    - If you are not guilty of trespass (lawfully allowed to be on property), the owner has to notify you that photography or sound recording is not allowed. Probably a sign would be sufficient, like is common in most malls and shopping centers.

    This bill feels like a tool to pile on penalties. If you trespass you break one law. If you take a picture, now you've broken two laws. A lawyer would have to explain why that is much worse than having just broken one. I will keep the thread updated with what happens to the bill as it continues to work through the senate.
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  • RyanSRyanS Always Learning Posts: 507Registered Users Major grins
    edited February 29, 2012
    I just realized I had the perfect picture for this in my library.

    DSC7684-5-L.jpg
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  • DeVermDeVerm Major grins Posts: 405Registered Users Major grins
    edited February 29, 2012
    These laws are to prevent the truth about animal cruelty coming out. The issue is clearly explained in the documentary "Food Inc."
    ciao!
    Nick.

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  • HarrybHarryb old and lazy Posts: 22,719Super Moderators moderator
    edited February 29, 2012
    They tried to pass a similar law in Florida this year but pulled back when too much light got shone on it. This is boiler plate legislation written by agri-business and then passed on to their whores in various state legislatures. http://www.pdnonline.com/pdn/news/Agribusiness-Pressin-2222.shtml
    Harry
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    How many photographers does it take to change a light bulb? 50. One to change the bulb, and forty-nine to say, "I could have done that better!"
  • RyanSRyanS Always Learning Posts: 507Registered Users Major grins
    edited February 29, 2012
    The sponsor of the bill calls groups like PETA "animal-rights terrorists." That seems to sum up how the majority of Utahns feel. I don't see this as likely to change any time soon. There are still quite a few gray areas in the bill. We will see where it ends up.
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  • HarrybHarryb old and lazy Posts: 22,719Super Moderators moderator
    edited February 29, 2012
    RyanS wrote: »
    The sponsor of the bill calls groups like PETA "animal-rights terrorists." That seems to sum up how the majority of Utahns feel. I don't see this as likely to change any time soon. There are still quite a few gray areas in the bill. We will see where it ends up.

    They use PETA as a red herring. I'm sure that Utah has trespassing statutes in place that can handle such situations. In Florida they were more worried about anyone witnessing the conditions faced by migrant workers than PETA. The only way PETA can be a problem would be if they were treating animals poorly.

    I'm no fan of PETA and find them a bit excessive but these proposed laws are BS.
    Harry
    http://behret.smugmug.com/ NANPA member
    How many photographers does it take to change a light bulb? 50. One to change the bulb, and forty-nine to say, "I could have done that better!"
  • RyanSRyanS Always Learning Posts: 507Registered Users Major grins
    edited February 29, 2012
    Animal abuse in Utah will carry a lower punishment than taking pictures of those abused animals without permission. I'm not sure how this law might affect the evidence due to exclusionary principals. If it wasn't against the law to record animal abuse, and then it becomes so, does that change how evidence of animal abuse can be used in a court to prosecute the animal abuser? I suspect it does, but I am not a lawyer. This could be the _real_ reason they came up with this law. It would make any evidence gathered by a group, like PETA, worthless at a trial. It is also "poisonous." Meaning that any evidence gathered because of the original illegally gathered evidence would be thrown out as well. Talk about a nail in the coffin for PETA.

    If I see some farmer starving his horse. I walk on to his fenced field and take a picture. I turn it in to the police. The horse mysteriously disappears before the police can get there. I get charged with two crimes: trespassing and "interrupting an agricultural operation." All the pictures I took are used as evidence against me. None of it can be used in a trial to prosecute the farmer. In fact, the police couldn't even use it as reasonable suspicion. The farmer would be considered the victim and get off totally free.
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  • SamSam San Jose CA Posts: 7,418Registered Users Major grins
    edited March 1, 2012
    Richard wrote: »
    My guess is that there's very little chance this law will survive judicial scrutiny.

    Richard,

    Don't ever underestimate the absolute stupidity of our American politicians and judges!!!

    Sam
  • RyanSRyanS Always Learning Posts: 507Registered Users Major grins
    edited March 1, 2012
    Sam wrote: »
    Don't ever underestimate the absolute stupidity of our American politicians and judges!!!

    Or the people who put them in power.

    Bazinga! :D
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  • DogdotsDogdots Major grins Posts: 8,957Registered Users Major grins
    edited March 1, 2012
    This is insane .... I can't believe something like this would even be considered. Most of my photos are taken on farm land because ND is almost all farm land. Makes my head spin just thinking about it.
  • RyanSRyanS Always Learning Posts: 507Registered Users Major grins
    edited March 5, 2012
    Iowa beat Utah to the punch. Way to go Iowa! It can now be a felony to take pictures of cows in that state, in certain circumstances. This law is actually tougher than what Utah is looking at. Many lawyers think this will pass any challenges with ease.

    Interestingly enough, both bills (Iowa and Utah) were sponsored by veterinarians. The two concepts in the separate state bills are so similar, I wonder how that happened. Opponents are calling these bills "Ag Gag."

    http://blogs.desmoinesregister.com/dmr/index.php/2012/02/28/iowa-senate-approves-ag-gag-bill-opponents-predict-dire-consequences/

    Not to worry fellow Utahns, Katherine Heigl has your back: http://www.globalanimal.org/2012/03/05/heigl-has-beef-with-utah-ag-gag-bill/68781/

    Um, on second thought.... :D

    What I find interesting is that there is little discussion regrading what this could mean for the art photographer or photojournalist. There are no exclusions for the type of photograph done, it is all illegal.
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  • angevin1angevin1 Performs as designed Posts: 3,403Registered Users Major grins
    edited March 6, 2012
    I must need to step my English as a first language up. What I read isn't problematic.

    It basically reads that you have to have permission to record media or you can't if you've been warned not to from the owner or his agent and it says you can't if you're trespassing. So where in all this hub-bub is the issue?

    http://le.utah.gov/~2012/bills/hbillint/hb0187s02.pdf
    tom wise
  • DeVermDeVerm Major grins Posts: 405Registered Users Major grins
    edited March 6, 2012
    What a mess... I'm so glad we got out and now live without all that madness thumb.gif

    Here's how the cows are over here: no mega feeding stations with thousands of cows stacked up eating genetically modified corn. Just some land cleared a bit and fenced, cows hanging out, eating grass, seeking shade under trees, legal to capture their pics, meat tasting great! This is Republica de Panama :D
    7D-1471-XL.jpg
    ciao!
    Nick.

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  • AngeloAngelo Turning frowns upsidedown Posts: 8,930Super Moderators moderator
    edited March 7, 2012
    DeVerm wrote: »
    These laws are to prevent the truth about animal cruelty coming out. The issue is clearly explained in the documentary "Food Inc."

    15524779-Ti.gif
  • HarrybHarryb old and lazy Posts: 22,719Super Moderators moderator
    edited March 8, 2012
    The idiocy of these laws are almost beyond belief. I don't know about the other states but the law proposed in Florida would had made it a felony to take a picture of a ranch or farm from public land. If it has passed I would have been in a rather interesting position. My favorite location for wildlife shooting is the Viera Wetlands. The wetlands are surrounded on three sides by the Duda farm. So every time I wnet out and shot at the wetlands I would have been commiitting mutiple felonies.
    Harry
    http://behret.smugmug.com/ NANPA member
    How many photographers does it take to change a light bulb? 50. One to change the bulb, and forty-nine to say, "I could have done that better!"
  • EaracheEarache Unsharp and Oversaturated SO CALPosts: 3,533Registered Users Major grins
    edited March 8, 2012
    Harry, your photography is so good that it should be a felony for you to own a camera! bowdown.gif :D
    Eric ~ Smugmug
  • RyanSRyanS Always Learning Posts: 507Registered Users Major grins
    edited March 8, 2012
    As expected, this law passed in Utah (for all intents). Final version makes it illegal to:

    - Leave an active recording device without permission on an agricultural property. Class A misdemeanor.
    - Obtain access to an agricultural operation under false pretenses (with intent to record). Class B misdemeanor.
    - Make a recording after the owner has indicated it is prohibited. Class B misdemeanor.
    - Recording (sound, video, pictures) any agricultural operation, equipment, livestock, crops, orchards, etc. while being guilty of trespassing. Class B misdemeanor.

    Due to how criminal trespassing is defined in Utah, one could find themselves in a non-obvious trespassing situation and be guilty of two class B misdemeanors. There are a couple different ways this can happen.

    1) "intends to commit any crime, other than theft or a felony;" If you are on someone's agriculture operation, even if it isn't fenced and is absent of "no trespassing" signs, you could be found guilty of trespassing because you intended to break the law... by taking a picture of a barn without permission. That's two misdemeanors for you.

    2) "intends to cause annoyance or injury to any person or damage to any property;" Remember that they are defining recording an agricultural operation as interference. That could land under this one depending how crafty the prosecution is. Same as above. You could find yourself here quite by accident in the real world of Utah farms and ranches.

    So, that's it folks. This law makes the following picture of mine illegal to take again. If you try, you will be guilty of two class B misdemeanors. Glad I took it when I could. By the way, the price on this print just went WAYYYYYY up. :D

    i-FLK8RtJ-M.jpg
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  • ZanottiZanotti Improving Daily Posts: 1,409Registered Users Major grins
    edited March 8, 2012
    I'll have to stick to Indian cows!

    market-L.jpg
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  • DeVermDeVerm Major grins Posts: 405Registered Users Major grins
    edited March 8, 2012
    News International reports that cows in Panama are wondering if their Utah cousins can't even model after signing a model release??!! Mooooooooo !
    untitled-shoot-1520-Edit-XL.jpg
    ciao!
    Nick.

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