Wonder what Ansel Adams would think about this . . .

dpaultx

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Forest Service says media needs photography permit in wilderness areas, alarming First Amendment advocates
"The U.S. Forest Service has tightened restrictions on media coverage in vast swaths of the country's wild lands, requiring reporters to pay for a permit and get permission before shooting a photo or video in federally designated wilderness areas.

Under rules being finalized in November, a reporter who met a biologist, wildlife advocate or whistleblower alleging neglect in 36 million acres of wilderness would first need special approval to shoot photos or videos even on an iPhone.

Permits cost up to $1,500, says Forest Service spokesman Larry Chambers, and reporters who don't get a permit could face fines up to $1,000.

First Amendment advocates say the rules ignore press freedoms and are so vague they'd allow the Forest Service to grant permits only to favored reporters shooting videos for positive stories."
Here's the link to the official U.S. Forest Service publication which is currently open for public comment until 11/03/2014.

I hope that this item isn't considered "too political" for the sensibilities of the members of this forum, but if .GOV can do this to the press and to commercial entities, what is to prevent them from applying it to anyone with a camera?

dp
 

OzRay

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These rules apply in Australia in all national parks. It primarily applies to commercial activities, but some states have very clear guidelines that if you intend to sell any resulting photographs, then you need to apply for a permit, whether you consider yourself a professional or not. It was raised as a hot topic by our two photography associations, but I haven't followed this for some time.
 

tosvus

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Here's the link to the official U.S. Forest Service publication which is currently open for public comment until 11/03/2014.

I hope that this item isn't considered "too political" for the sensibilities of the members of this forum, but if .GOV can do this to the press and to commercial entities, what is to prevent them from applying it to anyone with a camera?

dp
Well with permits costing up to 1500 and fines being up to 1000, I guess it makes sense in some areas to just take the chance if you are a reporter. I wonder if it is some way of getting money and limiting traffic from large crews doing nature shoots (Nat Geo), or what the intention is. I don't think they would ever get away with charging private citizens to take pictures in any case.
 

budeny

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I will completely agree on to start regulating commercial workshops in national parks and wilderness areas.
My last experience: 20+ people occupied the deteriorating and thus fenced off slope of Zabriskie Point in Death Valley NP for sunrise shots - simply disgusting.
 

Aushiker

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These rules apply in Australia in all national parks. It primarily applies to commercial activities, but some states have very clear guidelines that if you intend to sell any resulting photographs, then you need to apply for a permit, whether you consider yourself a professional or not. It was raised as a hot topic by our two photography associations, but I haven't followed this for some time.
Here in Western Australia there are only restrictions in respect of commercial photography which is defined as

Commercial filming means any filming or photography activity undertaken on CALM Land for either of the following purposes, regardless of the medium or format used (e.g. video clips, digital, magnetic tape, celluloid, still, motion):
• advertising (such as the creation of commercials), production films, documentaries, educational films, Government sponsored films or tourism promotions;
• workshops or courses; and
• any filming or photography activity which involves the use of film crews, props, sets, models, instructional materials and group activities; the utilisation of DPaW staff and resources and/or access to locations beyond areas made available to normal visitors to CALM Land.
Andrew
 

OzRay

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I was a member of the AMCP and they had a fair amount of discussion on how these rules could affect all photographers. While there are variations in the theme between states, they were very concerned at the potential impact on any professional photographer undertaking photography in a national park. It's words like these in the WA guide that concern the associations:

All commercial filmmakers and photographers planning to take still pictures or motion pictures for commercial purposes on CALM Land must obtain either a licence or lawful authority.

All commercial filming operations undertaken on CALM Land require a licence, unless it can be determined that the operation will have a major benefit to state or it is likely to increase the appreciation, awareness and understanding of Western Australia’s natural and/or cultural environment.
The DPAW could rightfully interpret this to mean anyone that takes photos with the intent to sell them requires a licence. I have never found any logical reason for this, but that's the way it's set. I could well understand restrictions on major undertakings that involve many people, have the potential to interfere with visitors/tourists and potentially affect fauna and flora, but I can't see what the difference is between a tourist taking photos, a serious amateur starting up a business, or a sole professional taking photos. Governments work in mysterious ways.

On another note, I wonder if Google Earth needs a licence?
 

Itchybiscuit

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There seem to be so many cuts to the Forestry Services in the USA that I'm surprised they'd be able to provide the staff to oversee such regulations.

It's a nice revenue generating idea but it seems to me that it would be completely unenforceable - unless the photographer just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and there was a ranger(?) at the location. In which case, I'd be tempted to switch to another venue a few miles away.
 

kwalsh

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So this is a bit of a tempest in a tea pot as the quoted news stories actually are not entirely correct.

First of all, realize that the current and proposed regulations make a distinction between video and still photography and the permit requirements for video are more stringent than for stills. For example, for video you would require a permit to film a documentary on NFS lands. However, you would not for stills.

If you actually look up the relevant parts of the code here are the conditions in which stills require a permit:

f. Still Photography. The use of photographic equipment to capture still images on film, digital format, and other similar technologies on NFS lands that:
(1) Takes place at a location where members of the public are generally not allowed or where additional administrative costs are likely, or
(2) Uses models, sets, or props that are not a part of the site’s natural or cultural resources or administrative facilities.
This has been the distinction for a long time and the proposed changes do not affect this definition at all.

So the more interesting question is the hypothetical about someone filming a documentary on park management, here are the definitions on video:

b. Breaking News. An event or incident that arises suddenly, evolves quickly, and rapidly ceases to be newsworthy.

c. Commercial Filming. Use of motion picture, videotaping, sound-recording, or any other type of moving image or audio recording equipment on NFS lands that involves the advertisement of a product or service, the creation of a product for sale, or the use of actors, models, sets, or props, but not including activities associated with broadcasting breaking news. For purposes of this definition, creation of a product for sale includes a film, videotape, television broadcast, or documentary of historic events, wildlife, natural events, features, subjects or participants in a sporting or recreation event, and so forth, when created for the purpose of generating income.
As you can see from that it would seem that investigative reporting is not "breaking news" and that as even investigative reporters need to earn a living you could argue their reporting is for the purposes of "generating income".

But really, when you look at this not much is actually changing these above definitions have been in place for awhile and all that is actually changing is the application and approval process.
 

fortwodriver

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None of this changes the hoards of people who follow each other around thinking "the other guy" is framing up "the shot"... That amuses me to no end when I see it happening. I think Adams was more concerned with the people travelling through and leaving garbage in their wake. In the few books of his I have, towards the end of his life he repeatedly laments having to edit out garbage from his photographs that he didn't see while he was framing up pictures on his groundglass.
 

Just Jim

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Seriously, so much hype over something that needs to have clear regulation, and updates are occasionally needed, language has been in place for 48 months anyway.

Applies to commercial still photography and commercial video, so if you're gonna make money pay the man, because they're going to have to pay someone to make sure you're not messing things up. And don't mess up the land for anyone else. If you're going to use the publics property this forces a list of rules on how not to screw up the park for everyone else, so if the whoever looks over your permit use application see's you want to do something incredibly dumb, dangerous, or harmful to the park they can say no. They obviously leave certain elements up to each park, but it gives them the power to enforce when they say no to someone's dumb idea, or yes to someone's good idea.
 

barry13

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I will completely agree on to start regulating commercial workshops in national parks and wilderness areas.
My last experience: 20+ people occupied the deteriorating and thus fenced off slope of Zabriskie Point in Death Valley NP for sunrise shots - simply disgusting.
IIRC, workshop instructors are already supposed to be paying in NPs (under an older statute).

Barry
 

kwalsh

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So as a few of us assumed this was mostly a tempest in a teapot, people reading a lot more into this minor update than the USFS was ever intending. Obviously it is good to clarify confusing language though - so the concern expressed wasn't a waste or anything.

Update from WP:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2014/09/26/u-s-forest-service-to-clarify-wild-land-photography-permits-says-media-wont-be-affected/

Relevant quote from linked article:

“If you’re news media, it has no effect at all,” he said. “If you’re a private individual, this doesn’t apply.”

Individuals who want to shoot on wild lands won’t need a permit, even if they plan to sell their photographs, except if it involves props. Fees for permits vary by size. Groups of up to three will pay $10 a day, while crews of 80 shooting movies usually pay around $800 a day, Tidwell said.
 

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